Saturday, April 23


Now here’s a fascinating example of how the Chinese Civil Service Examinations were conducted. I quote:

The Chinese examination system, stretching though two thousand years of Chinese history, theoretically created a system of meritocracy, in which any man of whatever background could join the governing class by means of his learning. By late Imperial times, successful candidates were appointed only to districts other than their own, to avoid conflicts of interest and other seeds of local corruption. But the examination system itself became increasingly bureaucratic and exacting, leading to a condition, according to Benjamin Elman, in which "cheating became a cottage industry." Since candidates and their possessions were physically searched before they could enter the examination hall, in which they were locked for the three days of the examination, it is hard to imagine how successful any of the attempts at cheating actually were. This handkerchief is covered with hand-brushed tiny characters representing some of the texts a candidate was required to know.

Here’s another extraordinary garment. A silk jacket from China covered with tiny writing.

The entire silk jacket is covered with tiny script, essays. It is thought to be used for cheating, but its just extraordinary. Here are more details on this and more photographs.

Cheating is an honourable profession. I was further reminded of this when I read this story from a Pakistani Newspaper. I quote:

In 1978, a certain friend of mine in the Education Department asked me, “Would you like to become an invigilator for the LL.B. exams?” In my naivety to exercise ‘total control’ over the would-be custodians of law, I said, “Yes.” I was assured of a ‘hefty’ daily allowance of Rs20.

Laced with an appointment letter, I reached the examination centre with a thudding heart. The very thought of the authority vested in me made me feel both elated and elevated. However, after the tintinnabulation of the bell, as I entered the hall, puffed up with pride, I received an instant shock. Most of the students were old timers, be-spectacled and awe-inspiring. On the other hand, they were visibly relaxed to have a youngster as their invigilator.

Barely ten minutes after the distribution of the question paper, I saw them brazenly taking out carefully written out scraps of paper from their bulging pockets. I must admit, not all of them were involved in this nefarious activity – others preferred to take out books from below the desks. Then they started patiently turning pages to find the answer to the question they were going to attempt first. I was flabbergasted and couldn’t believe my eyes.

I heard about this new way of cheating in India. You write your mobile number on your answer sheet. Then the examiner calls you up and you negotiate. The price you pay is dependent upon how many marks you want to achieve. And then you get it. Here’s another way, Micro Slips. I quote:

‘Micro slips’ are the photostat copy of pages from books or subject notes in a very reduced size, sometimes even smaller than 25 per cent of the actual size of the text.

“Many of the UMC cases caught by invigilators and flying squads members using ‘micro slips’ are an eye-opener. For instance, in one such case this year, the student had more than two dozen ‘micro slips’. With too small a font size, the student must be carrying almost half of the book,” revealed a senior UMC branch official.

The trend witnessed among students with these ‘micro slips’ is not restricted only to a particular course or subject but used in Science, Commerce and even Arts. “There is an option in the photostat machines where we can reduce the size of the font to the desirable extent. Generally, students get these made from their books only. Excluding the margins of the book, sometimes the slips (photostat copy of both the pages of the book) could be smaller than the size of a palm. The photostat shops do not charge extra for making these micro slips and some also do not make this blatantly,” revealed the owner of one of the photostat shops on the campus.

How about this one?

The Class 10 and 12 board exams have been marred by rampant cheating in centres across states even as the authorities chose to look the other way. Exams in Hajipur near Patna witnessed mass copying. At the Surya Dev Memorial School, one of the 1,400 centres in Bihar, the students had access to 'helpers', who were delivering guidebooks and answers without being stopped by the school authorities or the police.

The helpers were seen climbing the school's walls to reach their candidates. Some were passing on chits inside classrooms using bamboo poles. In one instance, a helper outside the school gate was seen passing a paper to a policeman inside the premises. Despite the evidence on camera, the examination controller at the centre claimed that the tests were being conducted in a fair manner.

At the Madangiri Inter College in Paliganj near Patna, the candidates had a guide sitting with them for the maths paper. The invigilators in the room even tried to shield him from the media. They formed a ring around him to prevent him from being caught by the magistrate's flying squad. When the magistrate eventually caught the guide, the teachers tried to help him flee. "I caught a boy handing chits to the students. I handed him over to the authorities," said Magistrate Chandramohan Prasad.

But the school administration denied any wrongdoing. "We have made adequate arrangements so that the exams are conducted fairly. No unfair means were used," claimed Krishnachandra Singh, principal of Madangiri Inter School. Instances of copying were reported from Yavatmal near Nagpur. Relatives of students were seen flinging chits inside classrooms during the exams at the Vasantrao Vimukt Ashramshala.

The cheating continued even as policemen stood and watched. The students also had books hidden in their desks. When Headlines Today spoke to school authorities, they claimed that stopping cheating was the responsibility of the state education board. In Jammu, police arrested 21 students. Taking a leaf out of the film Munnabhai MBBS, the students were using earphones plugged to their mobile phones to cheat.

The incident occurred at an exam centre 15 km from Jammu during the information technology paper. The police seized the mobile phones and registered a case against the students. Worse still, students in Bihar's Araria region went on the rampage after the college management did not issue admit cards on time. They set furniture and office equipment on fire. The fire soon engulfed the entire college building. The mob consisted of around 300 students who had not been given exam hall tickets for their Class 12 boards. Their tickets did not come as the principal had not submitted their exam forms.

I specially liked the irony of them using mobile phones to cheat in the Information Technology Exam.

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