Bihar School Examination Board higher secondary topper scam accused Harihar Nath Jha being produced in court in Patna, June 27. (Press Trust of India)
Bihar was rocked by the shocking revelations of multi-million rupees Intermediate (Class XII) toppers’ scam that ranged from sale of fake certificates to manipulation of evaluation and examination centers, writes Priyanka Bhardwaj. – @Siliconeer #Siliconeer #BiharToppergate #Youth #Education #NitishKumar
The matter came to the fore during the media interviews of the Political Science topper who called Political Science as “Prodikal Science” and defined it as a subject about cooking and the Science topper failed to explain the connection between H2O and water.
Corruption is a common fair in India and this permeates the education sector in the form of multiple irregularities.
Very recently, the largest ever scrapping of an examination occurred when the Supreme Court canceled this year’s All India Pre-Medical and Pre-Dental Entrance Test, held on May 5, as it was rigged by tech-savvy students who cheated in the examination by obtaining answers to questions through electronic devices they smuggled into test centers across the country.
In the instance of Bihar toppers, but obviously they least expected the controversy to flare up to assume a litany of investigations and legal implications for the accused.
Immediately after the interviews, sting operations conducted by media houses followed, throwing up more vermins afflicting the system.
Under pressure from a countrywide outcry the government ordered Special Investigating Teams (SITs) to uncover the illegal machinery.
It was discovered that scamsters were providing pass certificates to failed students and also fake Intermediate certificates to students who never had to take the exam or even enroll in any college for huge sums of money.
The bunch of scamsters belonging to diverse backgrounds such as middlemen, schoolteachers, impostors, politicians and state education officials would operate like a syndicate in the test-rigging racket to enable poor-performing students to manipulate their entry into colleges and professional institutions.
The kingpins of the racket—the Bihar School Examination Board (BSEB) Chairman Lalkeshwar Prasad Singh and his wife and former Janata Dal (United) Member of Legislative Assembly Usha Sinha, as well as some principals of various colleges have been arrested.
Surprisingly, it took a show cause notice issued against Lakeshwar Singh that forced him to tender his resignation and the “toppers” failed the re-tests they were subjected to.
With the arrests of the toppers as well the total tally of arrests has gone up to hundreds but the police claim that their hands are full as more is expected to fall out of the Pandora’s Box.
Patna senior superintendent of police (SSP) Manu Maharaaj, Head of SIT says, “Substantial evidences have been recovered to pin down certain teachers designated for managing examination centers for selected Intermediate colleges at the behest of the then BSEB Chairman Lalkeshwar.”
Also in custody is one Bachcha Rai, the Director of Vishnu Rai College in Vaishali district for a number of illegal activities.
Interestingly, Rai is a sitting Member of Legislative Assembly from Janata Dal (United) party.
But upon his arrest the party supremo, Lalu Prasad Yadav clearly distanced himself, demanding his arrest and his son and current Deputy Chief Minister, Tejaswi quickly posted pictures of Bachcha Rai with Bharatiya Janata Party’s Union Minister of State for Micro, Small and Medium Entreprises Giriraj Singh on Twitter.
Tejaswi tweeted: “Sharing pics of aid of toppers scam culprit& renowned central minister. Hope few media houses wil not hsitate to do character assassination.”
Coming to Bachcha Rai, he runs his educational institutions in the form of a trust and heads Rajdev Rai Degree College and Rajdev Rai B.Ed. College, both affiliated to Bhim Rao Ambedkar Bihar University (BRABU) in Muzaffarpur, and R.D. Public School for Classes I to X.
His trust is also in charge of Siyawati Lalmuni Kuldeep Degree College at Patepur of Muzaffarpur, again affiliated to BRABU, and one degree college each at Lalganj and Mahua (Vaishali district).
In 2014 two vigilance complaints were filed against Bachcha Rai in Muzaffarpur for allegedly having influenced the affiliation committee without meeting requirements, such as a degree college needing at least 10 acres, for which he somehow “managed a clean chit.”
Most certainly his being a part of the nexus or exam mafia guaranteed board students of his institutions get “outstanding results” year after year, thus establishing the brand reputation of his institutes and attracting a record number of students from far and wide.
It is no surprise that the Arts and Science toppers in the intermediate examinations are Ruby Rai and Saurav Shrestha respectively and Science third topper, Rahul Kumar, all hailing from Vishnu Rai College.
This explains why when the answer-sheets of most Vaishali colleges were sent to Bhojpur for evaluation; Vishnu Rai College’s answer-sheets were evaluated in Patna.
The education mafia also took full advantage of a rule (invoked via a judicial intervention) that does not allow cancelation of a declared result.
Close on the heels of the above scam erupted another muddle in Bihar itself.
This is about 30 students enrolled in second year of BRABUs Bachelor of Computer Application (BCA) course for session 2013-16 who have been declared “pass,” even though they left their answer sheets blank.
Last year Bihar’s varsities examination department had earned notoriety for allotting marks on 40 odd blank answer sheets of final year examination of homeopathy.
A dearth of enough quality institutions and no means of upward mobility except for education, and a supremely competitive employment may be the primary drivers of this unhealthy desperation for high marks.
Arrests of the small fish and public shaming of beneficiaries have served as symbolic, punitive measures without checking the real rot.
A serious government needs to implement various recommendations of committees that have studied the problem from all angles to and can reset the structural anomalies plaguing the educational and examination apparatus.