Dr. Narendra Karmarkar

He was my classmate. Got his gold medal in 1978. Often he used to question professors which got them stumped. I didn’t understand most of them. Even other toppers like Gurjar didn’t understand them.

He was helpful to me. Not showing the arrogance most of the toppers displayed. I liked him.

In Bombay most came to IIT after clearing 12th grade. Many I talked to has taken Agarwal clases too. I had never heard of any coaching classes before I went to IIT Bombay. There was a book consisting for last five years of JEE question. I was tempted, thought about it for a day or so, considered Rs 5 to be a waste, and didn’t buy that book.

Somebody told me that Narendra didn’t get the score he wanted, so he took IIT JEE again. He scored 271 out of 300, that was the score displayed in the main building. Gurjar was #2 with 270. On seeing their scores I was brought back to earth. I believe the lower scores were in blocks. My rank was around 250, and it showed I had scored about 150 or so.

Earlier I had hinted that some had done their PhDs before taking their JEEs. Might have been the case for some, for Narendra Karmarkar, my guess is that he completed mere 2 years of post secondary education, in worst case 3 years, or BSc in Pune before coming to IIT 1st year.

No, likely he didn’t do PhD before joining IIT. Just a BSc, just a normal topper did and do it even nowadays. The guy who whispered in my ears that Karmarkar had repeated his JEE might have been lying.

Not that most don’t do their PhD’s because of any special reasons. Just that 2 years of post secondary is considered to be optimal for earning purpose.

So like any smart student, he probably did two years’ of post secondary before entering IIT. Nowadays, if your parents have money, and many probably have, getting any department is okay because the parents want only the IIT stamp and later can select MIT, Stanford, Cornell,… – all schools are on sale.

Karmarkar got his gold metal and his momentum carried him through UC Berkeley and CalTech, and then perhaps he collapsed (no, joined some Indian company, which is the same.) Just like the guy died just after completing his marathon.

My batch will be remembered till eternity. And just like most know the name of Judas, the guy who betrayed Jesus, and they don’t know any other names, they might remember me as the IITian with No Name and he did what we don’t know.

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