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Alarm bells

July 1, 2013:

The reported rigging of the marks of as many as 80 candidates who took the Common Admission Test (CAT), which is the gateway to the prestigious Indian Institutes of Management and other business schools, is shocking. It is a matter that should raise alarm bells because so far CAT has enjoyed respectability for its unblemished record. The discrepancy came to light as marks of 80 examinees available with the website were found have been altered/tampered when they were matched with the master database.

The IIM-Kozhikode, which conducted CAT, has lodged a complaint with the police who have registered cases of cheating and dishonesty, concealing design to commit offence and tampering of computer source documents. The tests were held in October-November last year and results announced in January. Over 2.14 lakh students took the exams for entry into 13 IIMs (which offer 3,500 seats) and about 170 business management institutions. While Prometric, a global testing agency conducted the tests, the website was hosted and managed by Web Weavers, a Lucknow-based firm.

It is a relief that the IIMs, which have already completed admissions, have not been affected by this rigging. They have done well to publicise the testing IDs (registered numbers) of those who secured inflated marks. However, there is a question mark on the admissions done by the non-IIMs which may have relied on the website data for their admissions. The IIMs, which have alerted the non-IIM colleges as they use the scores from master database, should henceforth take care to avoid incidents such as tampering through proper supervision of external contracts. The non-IIM institutions should immediately review their admission lists wherever admission processes have already been completed. Any discrepancy should immediately be brought to the notice of the authorities and proper action taken. It is a welcome sign that the Union human resource development ministry has formed a committee to look into the issue.

The authorities should ensure that such incidents do not recur. It has come to light when the reputation of the whole Indian education system has taken a beating following reports of mass copying, dubious admissions, teacher recruitment scams, colleges which lack even basic facilities etc. This decline in standard has been a matter of grave concern for educationists for long.


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