By Nishtha Relan:
I wonder if there are any limits to how ridiculous some people can get. And then, there are things which trump all those humans, things like the latest NET (National Eligibility Test) exam conducted by the University Grants Commission (UGC) with their incredulous properties.
The NET exam conducted on 30th June, 2013, is under severe criticism for its questions which are rather sexist and subjective in nature, and are looking at the world through the set stereotypes. Here is an example, for all those who are yet not aware of cases of such absurdity in a basic examination which is taken by lakhs of candidates every year in India:
“At primary school stage, most teachers should be women because:”
1. can teach children better than men.
2. know basic content better than men.
3. are available on lower salaries.
4. can deal with children with love and affection.
I mean, WHAT?! Now, it is surprising how this question was actually posed, despite being problematic at multiple levels. First, it states outright an opinion as the ultimate order. Then it seems to tell that whoever set the question, and all those who passed it as legitimate, completely agree that one’s biological sex is the primary determinant of one’s skill and areas of work. If UGC takes ‘3’ to be the correct option, then it re-enforces, and almost celebrates, the flawed state of women being underpaid, available for less, for the same amount of work done by men, very shamelessly! And if not that, it simply embraces the patriarchal stereotype of the gendered social roles, where women are seen only as good care-takers and soft, motherly creatures. As is evident, we haven’t opened our eyes at all to the struggles and outstanding achievements of women. It’s time for a wake-up call.
It didn’t end there, though. Another question asked in this objective-type examination was definitely not objective at all:
“India should switch to two-party system. Which of the following statements is strong?”
I. Yes, it will lead to stability of the government;
II. No, it will limit choice for voters.
Another question goes like this:
“Choose the proper alternative given in the codes, to replace the question mark: Bee – Honey; Cow – Milk; Teacher – ?
The options are intelligence, marks, lessons, wisdom.” (Where is the option ‘Education’, I wonder?)
What would be the ‘correct’ answer to such questions which pertain to each individual in its own way? The examination seems to have been rather puzzling this time, and clearly offensive to many — being highly prejudiced and patriarchal in its foundation. How would one’s opinions ever match up to another person’s? And since they won’t, how is it even a remotely fair idea to judge a person’s eligibility for jobs on the basis of his support for a certain gender or a preferred political condition? For an exam which is certainly important for a huge population of candidates to be able to take up jobs, you would expect a certain level of maturity from such a committee. While it clearly shows how certain stereotypes are thoughtlessly (or perhaps, deliberately?) taken as the Status quo for a paradigm in this nation, it is both funny and saddening that such questions and statements are allowed to prevail non-nonchalantly.
Here is a petition started by a student on Change.org, please do sign and circulate: