The purpose of any competition is to test ability. In ancient times, this work was done for recruitment in the armies of the rulers. At that time, the criteria for such examinations used to be physical fitness.
In modern times, in any competitive examination, studies, writing and mental understanding have become the basis, but what will happen if the examination which is required to determine the merit, is tainted with malpractices i.e. cheating and paper leaks? This is a question that every effort to get rid of it has been proving unsuccessful in the last decade and a half. Especially in the matters of paper leakage and copying, the infiltration of organized gangs has made the situation worse, but now a sure solution is going to be found.
For the purpose of strictness, the Central Government has introduced the Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill 2024 in the Parliament. After being passed in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, it will be sent to the President for approval. As soon as the President gives his approval, this bill will take the form of law.
In cases of malpractices related to examination etc., a provision of fine up to Rs 1 crore and imprisonment for 10 years has been made. This bill, which has been brought with the aim of completely curbing those who commit any kind of irregularities in all types of government examinations, also aims to stop the atrocities being committed against the deserving and talented youth of the country due to the activities of organized gangs. However, some states have taken strict action to prevent rigging in various recruitment examinations. Action has been taken against the people involved in cases like paper leak under the (National Security Act), but incidents of malpractice coming from time to time have proved that efforts to circumvent recruitment examinations through illegal means are continuing. The main reason for this is the immense income earned through such rigging, due to which such work is being carried out by forming organized gangs.
Frustration of the candidates: Whenever the issue of malpractices in competitive or entrance examinations arises, the biggest question that comes up is the frustration of the candidates.
Important competitive exams and prestigious courses: If the papers of entrance examinations are leaked in advance, if recruitment is rigged by taking money or if candidates are made to pass by colluding, then those hard-working candidates who have passed an examination on the strength of their talent suffer the most. I try to prove my worth. Paper leaks definitely benefit a few students, but these incidents are extremely painful for thousands of other candidates and students. This continuous series of malpractices forces the candidates to appear again for the examination. The only option left is to bear all the expenses ranging from preparation to transportation, for which no government in our country has made any concrete effort to compensate. Sometimes, when such cases come to light, the governments of some states have given exemption from paying the examination fees again and have given the candidates the option of free return journey in roadways buses, but such balms do not provide relief to the wounds caused by these accidents. These incidents fill millions of unemployed people with extreme anger. However, deserving student candidates cannot afford this. That they would suffer the consequences of the system’s flaws, but there was no assurance from anywhere that such incidents would not happen again in the future.
The root of the problem lies elsewhere. In fact, in the last decade, incidents of paper leaking have increased so much that hardly any prestigious examination has been able to escape its grip. Apart from teacher recruitment, papers of UP-PCS, UP Combined Pre-Medical Test, UP- CPMT, SSC, ONGS and Railway Recruitment Board examinations have been leaked on a large scale in recent years. It is also possible that cases if not exposed, hundreds of people might have got jobs or admission in prestigious courses through such clever ways. Since these accidents are not a crime even after millions of arrangements and the busting and arrest of their gangs, a big question is whether the root of this problem lies somewhere else? The inability to stop the paper leak scandals proves that the examination system that determines the eligibility criteria has completely broken down. The government system has been taking paper leak incidents very lightly, that is why this problem is becoming incurable. This is the reason why the examinations which have been made the standard for every qualification, started appearing meaningless. The solution will be found through willpower.
It is not impossible to put any control on the failure of the system and the laziness of the officials and the criminals who leak the papers, provided the governments and the concerned departments want to do so. One aspect of this problem is also related to unemployment and the increasing desire for government jobs. In most such competitive examinations, the number of applicants for a few hundred or thousand posts is in lakhs. Examinations like TET and CTET, which provide eligibility for jobs, have gone a step ahead. These examinations neither provide any educational qualification nor provide a job, but have become such a ladder to become eligible for a job, through which even the slightest assurance of a job is available. Still, the situation is that the number of their applicants is in lakhs.
Similarly, it has now become common for tens of lakhs of candidates to appear in the entrance examinations for other government jobs and medical and engineering colleges. Due to high demand and low supply, the role of corruption and illegal tactics has increased in the system. On the other hand, a dangerous attitude of the society has also come to the fore, in which people want to push their children towards government jobs etc. which provide social prestige. In this case, if they are not successful through legal means then they try illegal means. There are many such people who buy seats in good institutions for their children by donating. Here are those who enter any or try to use tricks to get the recruitment exam form. Because of these people, the hard work and talent of lakhs of youth go waste, who want to build their future on the strength of their abilities.
However, looking at the draft and suggestions of the Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill 2024, it can be said that keeping a watch on the corrupt system that blocks the path of honest and capable youth and people promoting malpractices like cheating in the form of organized gangs. but it is not very difficult to control, This work can be done by making strict laws with political will and ensuring their implementation.
Here it is necessary to understand that just by making the examinations online or locking them in lockers before the exam, the demerits of a person are not guarded against. For this, it is necessary that the culprits are caught and they are given strict punishment. It is hoped that the latest legislative initiative to prevent malpractices in examinations will remove the flaws in the system and give a boost to this unemployment-stricken country and the dreams of its deserving and talented youth.
(The author is retired Principal, educational columnist and can be reached at [email protected])