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July 12, 2015
CHEATING ON EXAMS: INDIAN INGENUITY
By Nitin Srivastava
Source: BBC Hindi, Delhi
A massive medical school admissions examination scandal in Madhya Pradesh and a
Supreme Court ruling that ordered 600,000 students to re-appear for a pre-medical
exam have brought large-scale cheating into the public spotlight.
Cheating during exams is not new in India and despite being illegal has flourished in
most parts of the country for so long that it has almost become endemic.
The increasingly inventive methods of cheating have evolved over the years to take
advantage of modern technology and even social media.
This has prompted the examinations board to issue a strict set of guidelines, including
a dress code for the students re-appearing for the pre-medical exam.
Here are five ingenious ways in which Indians cheat during examinations:
James Bond style with gadgets
It was discovered that many who were caught cheating during the recently-cancelled
examination had come wearing micro-Bluetooth devices and mobile SIM cards that
had been stitched to their shirts.
Over the past few years, a number of candidates have also been caught using micro
earphones, stitched button-hole cameras and micro earplugs.
The devices are used to transmit questions outside the examination hall to
professionals who then relay back the answers.
Pens that can scan question papers and transmit the images outside using
micro-Bluetooth devices are also becoming must-have gadgets for ambitious
And they are easily available online. One website, in fact, advertises the products as
"Spy exam cheating devices particularly made for clearing tough exams".
The increasing pace of technological development and easy availability of such
devices has meant that authorities are struggling to keep up with - and crack down -
on the latest methods of cheating.
Strength of numbers
Mass copying is probably the most rampant form of cheating in India.
Only recently, shocking images of mass copying emerged from the northern state of
Hundreds of students are caught cheating in groups across the country every year,
but a proper law to deal with this phenomenon is yet to be enacted.
The problem is believed to be the worst in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya
Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan.
Many students smuggle in textbooks and notes into the examination centres despite
tight security - and parents and friends have been photographed scaling the walls of
test centres to pass on answers during secondary school examinations.
Going pro with official 'solvers'
It is not uncommon in India to find newspaper headlines saying "3 solvers for bank
In a country where limited government jobs cannot accommodate the hundreds and
thousands of students who graduate every year, clearing competitive examinations
becomes extremely crucial.
This has driven a lot of aspiring students into the arms of professionals who have
either coached students, or cleared the examination themselves.
These services are, however, both expensive and elaborate.
The process begins at the point of submitting the application.
The solver generally applies along with the candidate and ensures that they are not
seated very far apart.
The answer sheets are secretly exchanged before the end of the exam.
Another method used by professional solvers is to forge identity cards and appear in
place of their clients.
The practice of bribing examiners and members of evaluation panels has gained more
traction in recent years thanks to the increasing number of candidates and the rise of
greater purchasing power.
In a scam involving the Madhya Pradesh professional examination, at least eight
senior officials were arrested last year on charges of accepting bribes.
A BBC investigation in Uttar Pradesh state noted that bribery in universities was such
an accepted practice that "there's even a whole subset of the youth population who
are brokers between desperate students and avaricious administrators".
Mobile phone cameras and social networks are among the latest tools used by
examination takers to cheat.
How it works is pretty simple - someone breaks into the examination centre lockers,
takes pictures of the question paper and circulates it on social media.
In fact, an examination in Uttar Pradesh involving more than 450,000 examinees was
cancelled after a leaked question paper went viral on the WhatsApp messenger
Similar leaks have been reported from the prestigious Delhi University as well as in
some south Indian colleges.
Instances of email hacking to get university entrance question papers have also
prompted authorities to invest more on data protection.