Scammergate: The Prodigies Unveiled

2020 was a tumultuous vacation for those of us who wrote the JEE that year. The four attempts of the Mains came as a poisoned chalice that fed into our fever dreams, which with each attempt spiralled slowly into undiagnosed insanity.Only a few tenacious individuals came out of that darkness with broad, self-satisfied smiles. 

This, dear reader, is their story.

Every year, the NITT student pool is enriched with new talent – brilliant minds who have survived the challenges of one of the most competitive examinations in the world, to prove their worth to this institution, and ultimately, to society at large. So, when I say that these specific individuals are one-of-a-kind, do take me seriously. Their stories have been printed on nationwide papers, stumping thousands of JEE aspirants who struggle to close that chasmic gap between a 98%ile and a 99%ile.

The question we must ask is simple: What does it really take, to rise from 3 percentile on your first and second attempt, to a whopping 99.96 percentile on your third?

Theories vary based on the motivation of the theoreticians. While I firmly believe the answer to it is the harmonic balance between an einstein-ic intelligence, meticulous preparation and 19-hour work days, the haters cry fraud (haters gon’ hate, yea?). I can only chalk their cynicism up to academic jealousy.

Many of the allegations against these students are unfairly based on their apparent incompetence. From inferior grades to a general apathy toward anything academic, the morbid effects of burn-out are being employed as evidence to support the supposed “JEE scam” they pulled. Now, is it peculiar that someone who bagged an AIR below 1000 can’t draw a simple parallelogram with her scale and protractor? Well, yes, but that’s the point. These students cannot be measured by your ordinary metrics. They’re different. Sure, they can’t draw a parallelogram or save a file on the computer. But wave optics and advanced calculus? For them, that is common sense.

The more sympathetic individuals have conceded that there is a possibility of ignorance on the part of these students regarding their supposed fraudulence. The theory is that parents ensure their wards’ seats through under-the-table transactions, keeping them completely ignorant of the scam done on their behalf, while they remain convinced their percentiles were solely the fruits of their efforts and genius. But this is much too far-fetched. There are limits to delusion, surely.

It is not uncommon in India for parents to go to holy places and pray for their children to do well in examinations like IITJEE. However, for these students and their parents, it’s not Varanasi or Rishikesh that they turned to for holy intervention. Their place of choice is the beautiful state of Haryana. To be more specific, Sonipat Engineering College. Surrounded by the Yamuna river on three sides, is it the proximity to the Ganges that grants this place the magical ability to help students with the right answers? It must be so, as all these students seem to have recognized the sanctity of this land after their first two unsuccessful JEE attempts elsewhere, and quickly changed exam centres, before finally scoring their dream percentiles. Again, those who choose to consider this a suspicious trend do not understand the power of such hallowed grounds.

Over the past three semesters, a handful of these students have sadly been suspended for a variety of reasons. The reasons vary from alleged theft to inappropriate video screening during classes – really just your regular old college tom-foolery. One can understand the students’ eagerness to flee from under their parents’ thumbs and be free to pursue their happiness, after toiling months to close that 96 percentile gap – can you blame them? These are miracle makers – of course they come with their baggage of eccentricities! 

Our parents have sacrificed so much for us and our education, but theirs must have gone to the ends of the earth to ensure that their children could one day walk the hallowed halls of NIT Trichy. They would have had to move mountains (not of money, mind you) to guarantee their success, but it sure did pay off.

I am certain that by the end of college, we will be looking at these students in awe as they become supremely successful members of society, wondering how they made it big at the last possible moment.

The ’25 batch is no stranger to the alleged scammer scandal. Rumors run wild in our campus at the expense of these students. For those of you pointing out their questionable records, I have to ask – aren’t petty thefts and outright robbery really just part of the college experience? Surely one can excuse the occasional felony from students with such high IQ. These eccentricities are evidently just an extension of their elusive genius. It is a shame that such brilliance is not just unseen, but disregarded. In watching their plight, I am reminded of Galileo who was disparaged by the authorities of the time, misunderstood and ridiculed, much like these hidden prodigies.

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