Medical exam scam, CBSE must act

The Supreme Court order asking the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to re-conduct the All India Pre Medical Test (AIPMT) is a signal for the country’s education officials not to take their jobs lightly. The entrance test, that saw 6.3 lakh candidates vying for a few thousand medical seats, is among the top competitive exams which needs intense preparation. It is deplorable that the CBSE allowed gaps in security that helped a section of unscrupulous students to take advantage. Though, going by initial reports, only a few hundred students were involved in the fraud, the apex court said the process had been vitiated. Even if a few students secured seats through fraudulent means, it would be unfair on the rest who had worked hard. The court also stated, and rightly so, that it would be unfortunate if
students graduated as doctors using fraudulent means in a profession which entails public service.

The CBSE also needs to wake up to developments in technology which enabled some students to cheat in the exam hall. Stitching SIM cards into undergarments and then using sophisticated bluetooth technology-driven headsets, the students were fed answers from their helpers in remote locations. The applicants were apparently willing to shell out lakhs of rupees for the answers. This is because medical seats are not in abundance. Of the 6.3 lakh candidates, only 0.6 per cent can hope to get a seat in this examination. The CBSE, which is aware of the ground realities, needs to completely overhaul the way it conducts the exam and take the cue from other similar exams that are conducted for top-notch courses. If its officials are now wringing their hands and wondering how to conduct the re-test in four weeks, as ordered by the court, the CBSE has only itself to blame. It should marshal its resources and experience and take it as a challenge.

The AIPMT is not the only medical entrance exam that has come under a cloud. In the past, there have been serious controversies involving other medical entrance exams including ones in which proxies have been found writing in place of genuine candidates. It boils down to demand. While ideally, the number of MBBS seats needs to increase, realistically it is not possible as there are infrastruct-ural issues linked to medical education. Until then, the least authorities including the CBSE can do is tighten the conduct of the exams and structure it smartly to eliminate the ‘virus’ in the system.

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