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A corner of Pune is fast turning into the Kota for CAs, with a turnover in crores

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Indulal Complex and Prestige Point have become a coaching hub for aspiring chartered accountants, with 15 coaching centres hosting thousands of students.

Pune: Tucked inside one of the bylanes of Pune’s Shukrawar Peth stands a nondescript commercial complex called Prestige Point. At the front of the building are shops for hardware, laser cutting and plastics.

A couple of kilometres away, on Lal Bahadur Shastri Road, stands Indulal Complex, consisting of two washed-down buildings separated by an alley, lined with junk food shops, photocopiers and printers.

There’s nothing remarkable about these buildings, except that they are to budding chartered accountants what Kota is to engineering aspirants — a coaching hub, almost a factory.

In a short period of time, the buildings — Indulal Complex and Prestige Point — have become home to nearly 15 coaching centres, 50 classrooms, study labs, libraries and even counselling centres, which host at least 1,000 students preparing for their CA exams every day. The larger coaching centres have estimated turnovers up to Rs 10 crore per year, making this a big business.

“The way in which they have grown almost reminds one of the early years of Kota,” said Sucharit Rajadhyaksha, co-founder of Ekatvam Academy, which is based out of the Indulal Complex.

Recent phenomenon

These hubs are fairly new, having sprung up over the past decade as teachers kept opening rival classes, taking their student following with them.

Former students say it all started with one academy — the Zaware Professional Academy located at Indulal Complex. Its website proudly claims the academy was founded in 1973 and has an alumni base of 9,000 CAs.

“When I was a student, there was just one main class and that was at Indulal complex. But gradually over the next few years, more opened up, centred around Indulal Complex, as it was already a student hub,” said 31-year-old Pushkar Sabne, a practicing CA who once studied at Indulal Complex.

Students had to sign up to prepare all CA subjects, and attend long hours of classes every day. Culturally too, Zaware became more like a college than a coaching centre, having its own annual sports days and picnics.

In the mid-2000s, chartered accountant V.K. Agarwal started his own classes opposite the Indulal Complex, and introduced subject-wise teaching, attracting a number of students for subjects such as accounting and financial management.

Gradually, more professors came up with their own subject-wise classes, becoming brands in their respective subjects.

As Indulal Complex ran out of space, a few of these centres shifted to the relatively newer and cheaper Prestige Point.

Also read: How to stay awake at IAS coaching—learn from these failed aspirants

Students from all over

At any point of time, the five or six major coaching centres across the two buildings draw about 500-800 students appearing for the first level of the CA exam (the foundation course known as the Common Proficiency Test), about 300 studying to appear for the second level (the Intermediate Professional Competency Course), and about 200 more studying for the CA final.

Zaware and Ekatvam, the two major academies at Indulal Complex, have about 1,500 to 2,000 students enrolled for the foundation course. Besides, the complex has a number of reading rooms that are open till nearly midnight.

The CA intermediate and final students opt mostly for subject-wise classes at Prestige Point, students say.

Pune-based Gaurav Joshi, who became a CA earlier this year, said: “Under one roof, students get lessons in different subjects, plus counsellors, libraries stocked with various publications useful for exam preparation and so on, more at Prestige Point than Indulal.”

Joshi, who attended classes at Indulal as well as Prestige Point, added: “There’s a lot of diversity too among students. Students from Pune comprise about 25-30 per cent of the student population coming here. There are a lot more students from other smaller cities and towns in Maharashtra, and some even from places in Gujarat and Rajasthan.”

Gagan Minocha from Panipat, Haryana, is a prime example. He completed his CA foundation and intermediate levels from his hometown, but took classes at Prestige Point to prepare for his finals after he got an articleship with a Pune-based firm.

“All the famous, well-known teachers who have become brands in themselves teach at Prestige Point. About 60 per cent of the students were from Maharashtra, many from outside Pune. There were some like me from other states too,” Minocha said.

Big business

The buildings, of course, host a flourishing business, owing to the sheer number of CA aspirants that come to study there.

While coaching centres say it is difficult to get a ballpark figure for their turnover, as it varies from year to year, estimates range between Rs 4 crore to Rs 10 crore per annum.

Students say the fees range from about Rs 30,000 to Rs 35,000 per year for the foundation year to Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 per subject for the intermediate and final levels. There are eight subjects in the final year and eight in the intermediate year.

Coaching centres also offer ‘pen drive classes’, where entire lectures are pre-loaded on pen drives, with no scope for student-teacher interaction. These are available for Rs 6,000 to Rs 10,000 per subject.

Ekatvam’s Rajadhyaksha said the two complexes have also produced an entire eco-system of student life in the vicinity, with a number of paying guest accommodations, hostels, food halls, bookshops, photocopiers, stationary shops and so on.

Also read: Inside India’s giant IAS coaching factories: Hope, hype and big money


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