HYDERABAD: Toppers in Andhra Pradesh net not only top scores but apparently also a fat bank balance. By the end of the result season, toppers of SSC, HSC, Inter, Eamcet and the all-important IIT-JEE are richer by Rs 1 lakh to Rs 20 lakh, depending on their rank and the exam they have excelled in. The moolah comes in for a small ethical compromise: lending their names to institutions they have never been to.
Take for example, IIT-JEE topper I Prudhvi Tej. As many as six educational institutions __ four schools and two private colleges__staked claim to his success included those where he completed his primary and secondary education in Gudiwada, Krishna district. Two junior colleges too claimed that Prudhvi Tej coached with them.
Tej obliged each of them, lending his pictures and donning their uniforms to pose for their advertisements. He says he was aware that all the six institutions were using his name for endorsements but promptly adds that he has no qualms about it. "I did it for free,'' he claimed.
Topper factories in the state pay a price ranging from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 20 lakh, to students who make it to the top ten ranks in various competitive entrance examinations including IIT-JEE to endorse their brand.
The rate chart for toppers goes like this: Class X toppers lend their names for Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh. For an Intermediate topper the price hovers around Rs 7 lakh and the most expensive of all, IIT-JEE toppers are paid anywhere between Rs 10 lakh to Rs 20 lakh for a brand endorsement. This year's SSC topper P Venkata Sai too had his name used by two educational institutions.
Sources say that each of the top ranking students get three to four offers on result day. "The parents choose the most lucrative offer and stick to it. The public never gets to know where the topper was actually enrolled. The highest bidder gets the deal," an educational activist rued.
And it is not just the top ten rank holders who get offers. "Each of the corporate institutions claim that they have bagged 80 to 90 ranks in the top 100. To increase the number of rank holders who have to be named under their institutions, any topper who has scored within the top 100 ranks are influenced and bought," a source averred.
In the case of IIT-JEE, sources say that the lobbying starts much before the examination. "Coaching centres go scouting for students who perform well in the IIT-JEE mock entrance held by Chukka Ramaiah in Hyderabad. They book the top performers there itself by paying an advance ranging from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 4 lakh. The rest of the money is paid after the student gets the rank," a source revealed. All five rank holders from the state admitted to the fact that they had cleared Ramaiah's entrance test conducted every year in Hyderabad.
Poaching of toppers begins soon after the ranks are announced, particularly if they are from institutions which are less popular. Colleges even strike deals to "share'' toppers, each paying a certain amount to the topper. Often, the deal is struck with the help of brokers and lobbyists who also get a 25 per cent cut. In some cases, the remuneration to the lobbyists is made in terms of material benefits including cars and bikes.
The money is well spent for coaching centres. After all, for a topper crazy state where fresh admissions to schools and colleges are done on the basis of previous year's "performance", the toppers of IIT, inter and SSC examinations are preferred brand endorsers.