A male security guard cut the sleeves of the dresses worn by women appearing for the Rajasthan Administrative Services examination on October 27, creating a furore.
National Women’s Commission chairperson Rekha Sharma demanded an explanation from the State chief secretary on why a woman guard was not deployed at exam centres to enforce the rule that no candidate should wear full-sleeved dresses covering the hands up to the wrists. This move was aimed to prevent cheating.
Widespread malpractices were reported during the Rajasthan Eligibility Examination for Teachers (REET) held earlier this year.
Though candidates had been instructed to wear only half sleeve dresses, many had come in full sleeves.
Two lakh aspirants appeared for the prelims.
The state Public Service Commission had provided scissors to the security guards, who otherwise frisk the candidates and ensure they are not carrying mobile or scraps of paper. Candidates were also instructed not to wear socks. Only hall tickets and Aadhaar cards were permitted inside the exam hall.
The NCW flagged the worry authorities were ignoring the dignity and rights of women by invoking the transparency clause.
Rules were being tightened in different states without paying attention to the sensitivities involved, the NCW pointed out.
Another line of thought is the authorities went overboard by directing candidates to appear in skimpy dresses.
The Rajasthan administration government agreed women guards should have been deployed, after the picture of a male guard cutting the sleeves of a woman candidate went viral.
But the issue took a political hue with the state unit of the ruling Congress wondering why Sharma, who was in a hurry to find fault with the Rajasthan government, had not taken notice of former Uttarakhand governor and senior BJP leader Baby Rani Maurya's statement urging women to desist from going to police stations in Uttar Pradesh after 5 pm.
Women would not be safe in UP police stations, the BJP leader reportedly said.
After 2008 global economic crisis, which had a huge impact in India also, the scramble for central and state government jobs had intensified in the country.
In the first 17 years of economic liberalisation, the private sector was seen as a more attractive avenue for employment, the economic crisis forced a rethink in middle and lower-income groups.
They veered to the idea of seeking the ultimate safety of a government job, triggering efforts to pass examinations conducted by the union and state public service commissions, as well as individual departments and government undertakings.
Apart from coaching centres, there are ‘fixers’ who claim ‘inside influence’ in PSCs and recruitment panels. They have no qualms in lobbying to ensure their ‘clients’ get good marks.
The conviction of former Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash
Chautala, his son Ajay Chautala and several top officials in teacher recruitment scam in the state and their imprisonment have not deterred the scamsters.
Comparatively, the examinations conducted for Indian Administrative Services, entrance tests for medical and IIT seats as well as CBSE exams for 10th and 12th standards have been less prone to such scams.
Governments in north Indian states have been taking tough steps to prevent rampant cheating in examinations.
Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan have taken recourse to imposing a ban on internet services on the day examinations are held for state boards and Civil Services.
The administration of Gurgaon, adjacent to Delhi, had imposed prohibitory orders outside examination centres as it found coaching centres would bring large groups of teachers and students to ‘help’ Civil Service aspirants.
The state administrations had to resort to such steps as a large number of cases wherein complete answer papers were submitted as exams ended were reported, raising suspicion.
The vice-chancellors of the Central Hindi University in Wardha, Maharashtra, and Kolhan University in Jharkand were booked by the special investigation unit of Uttar Pradesh police for granting fake degrees during their tenure as registrar and controller of examinations respectively in the Sampoornanda Sanskrit University of Varanasi.
Of the 5,790 degree certificates submitted by government teachers, more than 1,000 were fake, a probe revealed
In Bihar, notorious for large-scale cheating in exams backed by armed gangs who intimidate invigilators, the state administration is still struggling to check the menace.
Now, the human rights of those appearing for exams and their entitlement for dignified treatment are grabbing the spotlight due to the intervention of the National Women's Commission.