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“This is the favourite pastime for the young people of this country it seems. Everything that I do, or have the misfortune of learning, seems to be for one competitive examination or the other. If I read the paper, it’s because I’m preparing for the IAS or the CAT. If I read my physics book it’s for the JEE or the JHAT.”
- Daman Gupta, Ex-student, Jayanand Hiranand Agarwal Technical University
Cracking the JHAT is the story of how five students crack the toughest college entrance examination in the world and are admitted to one of the most hallowed portals of learning in India, the Jayanand Hiranand Agarwal Technical University. The book traces their college years, as they find their lives, their loves and their losses inextricably linked with one another. Their perception is soon challenged however, as they find that the rosy picture that had been painted before their joining was not true. They face the terrifying prospect of being relegated to the educational backwaters of the country, and realize that it is their prerogative to do something about it.
Founded by the reclusive billionaire, Jayanand Hiranand Agarwal in Buddhinagar, Uttar Pradesh, the Jayanand Hiranand Agarwal Technical University has grown to such an extent it appears to be surpassing the Indian Institutes of Technology as the bastion of engineering education in the country. The newspapers all report favourably on a university that is seen to provide a truly world class education. The only private college in the country capable of taking on the might of the Indian Institutes of Technology, and winning. The Jayanand Hiranand Agarwal Test for admission to this great university has overtaken the Joint Entrance Examination as the toughest of its kind in the world. The juggernaut that is this university seems to be rolling towards domination of the educational system.
However, just after five students, Nishant, Vinita, Vikas, Saurabh and Daman join the college, they find that the blurbs in the newspapers, and the gushing reviews by the parents of aspirants seemed to have been exaggerated. The infrastructure of the college seems to be crumbling, and its reputation seems to be sagging. After the newspapers suddenly stop promoting the college, a miniature crisis situation forms. However, the students hatch a bold plan, to convert their college to one of national significance, and the movement that is the JHATU to IIT is born. Under charismatic leadership they fight to have their college gain national recognition, and thus continue with their aura of superior education and attract top tier students and top tier jobs to the university.
Above all, this is a book of five stories. About how students go from being aspirants to adults. Of growing up and facing the heartbreak and loss that comes with it. This is a book of loss and redemption, of love and betrayal, of lies and half truths, and shadows and light. About college years that transcends generations and geography. This is a book about education, and finding out that science does not just include physics, chemistry, maths or biology, and learning does not necessarily consider studying as a prerequisite. This is a book of hope and life, from the country boasting the world’s oldest educational system.