Three thousand two hundred rupees. That is the equated monthly instalment, or EMI, Shubham Dhande has to pay for his Unacademy subscription every month. At times he mans his father’s tea stall or does odd jobs; sometimes his grandfather gives him part of his pension—anything to put together the EMI. Or else the recovery agents will come knocking.
Dhande, 24, comes from a lower-middle-class family in Amravati, Maharashtra. While his father runs a tea stall, his mother works as a cook in the army canteen. Their only shot at a better life is if Dhande gets a good government job. So he started preparing for the civil services examination, conducted by the Union Public Service Commission, in 2018, while still an undergraduate student. For two years, he went through everything he could on the internet, watching videos, learning hacks, understanding courses. Unacademy’s free courses came as a saviour. But after a failed attempt in 2019 and months of introspection, he realized he