By Lamya Ibrahim:
It is not every day that prayers like these go answered.
After evidence of foul play in this year’s All India Pre-Medical Test (AIPMT) was unearthed, the Supreme Court’s order to cancel the May 3rd examination received reactions ranging from relief and elation to sheer frustration. The annually-held exam ranks candidates based on their performance in Biology, Chemistry and Physics in two separate multiple choice-format tests that decide their eligibility to 15% quota in Government medical colleges. The 2015 edition saw more than 6 lakh students competing for the 2000 available seats. What none of those aspirants anticipated was a replay of the whole process in another month.
Newspapers reported allegations of paper leakage the following day, claiming the key to 90 questions were released in exchange for Rs. 15-20 lakhs. Subsequently, the Rohtak police arrested 7 people, including 2 dentists and an MBBS student in connection with the offense. Making use of vests equipped with SIM and Bluetooth facilities, the much larger organized gang were able to provide significant number of answers for two sets of question papers, with 44 people across several centers, from Rajasthan to West Bengal, proven to have benefited and estimates of around 700 candidates having opted for similar means. While honesty was never a strong point of these entrance exams, the rare instance of hard evidence in this case pushed the Supreme Court to postpone, and finally suspend, the declaration of the results.
In the light of the impact the test results have on those who would have been unfairly robbed of their ambitions, the Supreme Court did what it could to serve justice, albeit a little late. As stated in its judgment, it would have been tragic if even a single individual was deprived of a fair opportunity, or the other extreme, and it is commendable that they sided with the wronged despite CBSE washing its hands off the entire incident. However, considering practical difficulties, the question that begs to be asked is: Why now? The same practice is suspected to have taken place in the 2012 AIPMT and State Bank of India Exams, so why weren’t stricter, fool-proof measures adopted earlier? Why weren’t there faster ways to remedy a scam as frequent as this, even when clear proof was presented within a week? What would be different this time?
Reflect on the fact that most of these students are exhausted from their marathon of board exams and entrance exams, or a grueling year or two focused on these fateful days – retaking an exam as important as this is not an option anyone would opt for joyfully. Apart from the many that would find the 4-week period insufficient to reboot their study schedule, there are many others who are caught in between choosing admissions to private institutions or another course, or try their luck again at the risk of losing an entire year, as intake to every other course would have closed by the time the retest is wrapped up. Add to that the CBSE’s insistence of needing more than 4 weeks for conducting another exam, and one really has to wonder whether they ever had Plan B’s for such scenarios.
Let the batch of 2015 be the last to face this unnerving experience. Upgrade the exam pattern, the examination board or the technological glitches in security, but let not students be the casualties any further. And let true justice be served in the form of a fierce sentence for the perpetrators of the racket, whose fates remain unstated. Be it an embarrassment for our education system, or a proud moment for the legal sector, this verdict ought to be a gigantic reminder to revamp our medical education system particularly and uproot corruption from our universities, in general.