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The saffronized corruption in examinations

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The saffronized corruption in examinations
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"Imagine a situation where a person who has played fraud on the system, has become a doctor, he is more deleterious towards a society….we all know the labor the children undergo especially for preparing for these exams.... Even if there is 0.001% negligence on the part of anyone, it should be thoroughly dealt with", the Supreme Court bench observed while hearing a writ petition filed in the Supreme Court by some parents demanding the cancellation of NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test), the national entrance exam for medical courses, in the wake of allegations of a question paper leak. While the court initially refused to cancel the exam, it severely criticized the National Testing Agency (NTA) - the body conducting the test - for its negligence. However, the leak of the NEET question paper has now turned into a major scam that has embarrassed the country before the international community and is unprecedented in its scale. Along with implementing the Hindutva agenda in the higher education sector, the Modi government which has turned the entire system into a hotbed of corruption and nepotism, has put crores of students and parents in a difficult situation through exam scams. Not only did the question paper of the NEET exam, written by over 23 lakh students leak, but it is also clear from the confessions of the students and middlemen who have been arrested that there were several planned moves behind it, with the connivance of the government. Following the leak of the NET (National Eligibility Test for entry into college/university teaching) question paper, conducted on June 18, was cancelled by the Center the next day. A week earlier, the entrance exam for four-year undergraduate programs (NCERT) was also cancelled for the same reason. All three exams were conducted by the NTA itself. What more is needed to demonstrate that the Modi government, which is unable to conduct even a common entrance exam in the higher education sector, is a significant failure in this matter?

The current protests by students, youth, and parents across the country are not accidental. They are a continuation of the saffronization that has been taking place in the education sector for the past ten years. Like in all other sectors, destroying federalism through authoritarianism and changing things according to its agenda was one of the initial plans of the Modi government. They tried to make the entire system a tool of Hindutva, not just through syllabus reforms in the CBSE, NCERT, and UGC. Even the questions in the cancelled NEET exam reflected this direction. Questions like which day the Pranaprathista was done at the Ram temple in Ayodhya, who was the warrior who saw the Kurukshetra war even after being beheaded, and in which Khanda of the Ramacharita Manas Hanuman appears were part of the teacher eligibility test! 'NEET' was another blunder like demonetization. In 2016, the Centre introduced NEET after judging that the examinations conducted by the states for admission to medical colleges were flawed. The Centre promised a comprehensive, scientific, and systematic entrance exam through NEET. The state of that exam is now coming out through the media.

It has been revealed that extensive rackets capable of delivering exam papers a day before the exam directly to candidates, for a hefty fee, are operating in various parts of the country. This is not just incompetence on the part of the testing agency; it is outright corruption. When corruption is exposed, it is the duty of the government to take strong action against it. However, from the very beginning, the education department and the minister have been in a denial mode taking a stand to protect the examination conductors. The Union Minister, who has made it clear that the exam will not be cancelled, is trying to shirking blame by citing technicalities. But this will not resolve the issue. There are signs that a new student agitation is brewing across the country against the 'NEET-NET' scam. The student protest staged by various student organizations in front of Shastri Bhavan, which houses the Educaton Ministry the other day is indicative of this. And the way the government acted against that agitation is another pointer. On the other hand, the opposition alliance ‘INDIA’ has also taken up the issue. It is certain that the third Modi government's first Parliament session will be stormy over NEET and NET. In short, the country will witness large-scale agitations in the coming days against the deterioration of standards in higher education. This is not just an educational struggle; it is a fight to reclaim and uphold democracy and the constitution from the encroachment of Hindutva. Therefore, there is a political obligation for democrats to be in solidarity with these struggles.


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TAGS:NTAEditorialSaffronisationNEET & NET
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