Opinion: Rigging of exams is an opportunity for some people in the system, we need to be cautious as citizens

Ananya Shroff
6 Min Read
Opinion: Rigging of exams is an opportunity for some people in the system, we need to be cautious as citizens

Author- Chetan Bhagat: There is an uproar over reports of irregularities in the NEET exam. Lakhs of students who have taken the exam are upset and those who will take the exam in the future are also worried. Entrance exams in India have always been stressful. This year, around 23 lakh students took the NEET-UG exam. There are around 50,000 seats in government medical colleges in the country. At this rate, 97.8% of students will not get a seat. There are some more seats in private medical colleges, but they are not so popular and studying in them is expensive. Sometimes it costs crores of rupees. In government colleges, it costs only a few lakhs. Even including private colleges, the total number of medical seats is just over 1,00,000, but the most competition is for government seats. Imagine what is the value of securing a top rank in NEET? Forget all ethics, merit, hard work. Let us be completely greedy, shameless, capitalistic. What if you could auction those top ranks? How much do you think they would sell for? Given the low fees in government colleges, you can save crores of rupees. You avoid the stress and hard work of preparation. You also save on coaching fees. Maybe these top ranks sell for Rs 3 crore per rank. This is a greedy, capitalistic world we are talking about. So for the top 50,000 ranks we are talking about a potential revenue opportunity of Rs 1,50,000 crore annually. Provided we are willing to sell our souls.

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Cheating in exams shakes us to our core

That is why there is a huge incentive for things to go wrong. It is the same story with other entrance exams too – there is money to be made by rigging them. In a country that has rarely prioritised merit and ethics, is it really surprising that a small industry has sprung up to make money off these exams? When did we care about fairness, honesty and merit? That is not how our politics works which is almost always about identity. Why bother with something as silly as merit? Why not sell everything? If we can have capitalism, where a few companies make profits by paying money, why not let rich families buy seats for their children? But it makes us sick, doesn’t it? It makes us really sick. The massive cheating in some of our toughest but supposedly honest exams shakes us to our core. It is not just about the students. It is about all of us who suddenly realise that nothing is clean, nobody can be trusted and that ultimately, only power and money speak.

Everyone should be careful

Exams like NEET, JEE, UPSC are the only way for the youth of our country to change class. To get a better life of respect for themselves and their parents. They are extremely tough, but at least give hope in a country where there are very few avenues to move forward. Hopefully this NEET case will wake us up. It makes us realise that values ​​like honesty, integrity, merit and respect for hard work are values ​​that need to be protected. Humans are flawed. If there is a huge opportunity to rig and cheat, some people in the system will do it. But we must be vigilant as citizens.

There are suffering students here, but here is a small response for them. They may not like to hear this, but over the years, the average Indian student has become disconnected from politics. Lost in their Insta reels, YouTube videos, memes, OTT series and video games, they say 'who cares, politics doesn't affect me. Let the boring old men do it.' No, you should care. Because if you don't care you will suffer the most. How did NEET finally get national attention? When enough students protested. Stay engaged in your democracy. Don't give up. Don't think that voting every five years and ignoring national issues is enough. Your regular awareness is needed to keep everyone accountable.

All the problems for this particular situation of NEET point to the National Testing Agency (NTA). The NTA conducts these important exams, but it does not have a good system in place. Frauds worth lakhs and crores of rupees are possible. We need a more secure organisation. For exams like NEET, the centres should be reputed and secure. If enough good centres are not available, exams can be conducted in a phased manner like elections. For this, multiple question papers of equal difficulty can be made. Marks can be normalised. Which question paper will be used on the day of the exam should be known only to a small group. It is possible to conduct exams with integrity, but it depends on those who are conducting it. Paper leaks are actually selling seats. It is selling Indian merit, honesty and hard work. It is selling the soul of India. We cannot let this happen.

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