Life in Chennai is interesting nowadays. A new reason for starting fresh agitations has come up! Yes, I am quoting the incidences related to the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for selection to Medical and Dental programs in India this year. It was conducted all over India last Sunday, the seventh May 2017. The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) who conducts the test since last year, has clearly given the guidelines for competing students, about the dress code, jewelry, shoes etc. during the exam, in their prospectus and online applications. Unless the students agree to abide by the rules and guidelines, their application will not be accepted by the procedure. When students appeared for the exam on Sunday many were not adhering to the guidelines. Those who did not follow the dress code were asked to follow it by the invigilators, to be allowed inside exam center. Now the questions asked by politicians, social activists, parents as well as students are: ‘why so tough rules? Why students who do not follow them are humiliated by the exam invigilators? Why they were frisked like criminals’? In fact there was one ugly incident in Kerala where a girl was asked to remove her inner ware which contained metal lining detected by metal detector. That was an isolated incident but has to be strongly condemned. I think already CBSC had suspended those lady teachers responsible. Further appropriate action should follow. The big hue and cry are in my state Tamilnadu. Why? Because Tamilnadu hates NEET and vehemently opposes it. Our students as well as politicians would love to shrink themselves into our own state shell and do not want to compete with the world. Now, when there were problems during the exam, all persons with vested interest found a golden opportunity to make a big show. Newspapers and media are shedding crocodile tears for the ‘poor humiliated students’ in their news and debates. In all channels angry, crying students and parents are seen shouting at the central government!
Why CBSC was so strict in their guidelines about ‘dos and donts’? Because of late, there is rampant cheating in many public exams and competitive exams all over India. Is it a new phenomenon? No. Cheating in exams is there since ages. In our days there were less resources for that. Students used ‘bit’ papers in which they used to write answers in very tiny letters are hide them in their dress (including inner ware; girls were no exception!). Sometimes answer sheet written by one student will be passed on to others for copying. In my medical college, (70s) the exams were conducted in our auditorium with lot of windows. Students would throw the question paper once it was issued. The people waiting outside would pick them up, go to the library, copy answers in tiny ‘bits’ and return back to throw them inside the exam hall. Girls used to hide bits in their long hair. A few years ago the rampant cheating in school exam, helped by parents in Bihar who climbed the walls of all floors of exam hall was on every news in India. (Pic)
But now the technologies are far advanced which make these cheating business very innovative. I myself had caught a student, who was using a pen with a scanner to scan the question paper and send it out via blue tooth. He received answer via a tiny earphone hidden by his long hair covering his ears! In the Middle East university where I worked as a Dean, I was forced to check the hear scarfs (worn by girls as per their religious code) by lady faculty for hidden ear phones and had caught some students. The small mobiles were secretly hidden inside the dress and taken inside exam hall. Usage of cell phone signal jammers was made necessary, (Unfortunately it cannot jam bluetooth transmission). Very tiny cameras with blue tooth facilities, which can be hidden in buttons, pens, clips, jewelry, screws etc. are freely available in market. Students know very well how to procure them and use them. Especially, in competitive exams on which their future dreams are involved, there is every possibility of cheating. An interesting but a stupid question is asked by everyone is: ’why treat every student like a criminal and frisk him/her for a few who were involved in cheating’? My answer is: ‘How do you know, who is the culprit unless you screen all’? Only one terrorist carries a bomb. But whole population has to undergo scanning in places such as airports, stations and malls. Is it not justified?
The present trend among this generation of students is deliberate and blatant violation of rules in all walks of life. Not that our generation was always law-abiding, but such rule-breaking population was very tiny. Whether it is in traffic or school or college, now they behave as if, breaking rules is their birth right or privilege! I won’t entirely blame them only, for such behavior, as many of their parents are worse, who encourage them to do so. Recently Chennai high court has commented about school students <16 years of age using two wheelers very freely on the roads, leading to lot of accidents. Even in Middle East, where tough rules are in place, I had seen young unlicensed youth dying in car crashes in highways. It is self-discipline and role model parents, the factors which can create a better society. If that is a utopian dream then strict rules are necessary and hence they are in place.
When somebody agrees to follow the rules and sign an undertaking, while joining an institution or appearing for exam, then demanding freedom and human rights are absolutely idiotic and laughable. Can you enter an operation theatre with your clothes and jewelry demanding your right to your freedom? Students have no right to claim innocence about rules and guidelines. Students are very smart in internet and social media. They cannot pretend as if they are unaware of dress code or jewelry code when they appear for entrance exam for medicine. Educated parents are still worse nowadays. They support their erring children as if they are right. If students have such a callous attitude of not bothering to know the rules, then according to me they are unfit to become a doctor, because among all, the doctor community has to be strict in following rules, guidelines and ethics.
So, the arguments of ‘cutting full sleeve to half sleeve, forced removal of jewels, not allowing jeans with big buttons and shoes, not allowing for going late’ are all utter non-sense. Projecting the invigilators who did their duty, as monsters and making everything as an emotional issue are condemnable. Politicians who hate orderliness always fish in troubled waters. But a student community who aspire to become doctors in future should behave more carefully and responsibly in respecting the law of the land. They should not be the crying babies playing victim card as if they are all ignorant. They must learn that their freedom has to be sacrificed in certain places and situations for better good to happen. Will they allow any of their peer to cheat to get a better score than them and destroy their chance of getting the seat?
I expect some litigations in the court and some pressure for re-exam in the days to come. We have to see the Human rights commission going to behave? However, the CBSC should take more caution while conducting an all India exam like this. There are rumors that in some places in Bihar, answers were leaked. Hence adequate precautions are to be taken next year to avoid any unwanted incidents and controversies. A good motive in bringing a standard, should not be spoiled by a faulty implementation.