CBSE issues bizarre exam dress code to curb cheating
KOLKATA/NEW DELHI: Given that the cheating racket across the country has assumed the contours of organized crime, a nervous CBSE is taking no chances. Bizarre as it may sound, the CBSE has issued a wardrobe checklist that would trump airline security or cordon sanitaire in VIP zones.
Candidates of the repeat All India Pre-Medical Test (AIPMT) to be held on July 25 have been barred from wearing anything except a half-sleeve t-shirt or kurta, trousers and flip-flops. Even religious charms and 'magic' amulets can't be worn.
--> Full-sleeve shirts
--> Jewellery and accessory of any kind - ring, nose ring, earring, sunglasses, hairpin, hairband, chain, necklace, belt, scarf, brooch, badge, cap.
--> Charm/tabeez, health band.
--> Watch, wallet, handbag, pencil box, pouch, pen, pencil, eraser, etc.
--> Any kind of paper.
--> Mobile phone, Bluetooth, earphone, microphone, pager.
--> Eatables (not even packaged), water bottle.
--> Any metallic item/gadget.
--> Big buttons on clothes.
--> Half-sleeve, light-coloured shirt/kurta and trousers/salwar.
--> Open Slippers
Examinees would be checked for just about every accessory: from nose rings and ear-rings to bracelets, chains, necklaces, brooches and pendants - each of these would be removed if found person. Worse, they can't even wear shoes, leave aside clothing with large buttons and badges. So too are belts, a vital accessory for some men, as well as scarves and caps of all kinds.
Of all the accoutrements proscribed, the bar on lucky charms may prove hugely controversial.
Even the garments have to be "light-coloured". The 'dressing down' seems draconian but the board believes these unprecedented steps are necessary to thwart the menace of unfair practices at exams.
Allegations of large scale irregularities in AIPMT had prompted Supreme Court to scrap the test on June 17 and ask CBSE to hold the exam again within four weeks.
The Supreme Court order had followed an investigation by Haryana special investigation team into the AIPMT paper leak, which revealed a massive network of racketeers that operated across Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. With more than 6.3 lakh candidates vying for 3,800 seats, and the Supreme Court watching, the board is clearly not taking any chances.
"This is ridiculous. First, my son has to retake the exam for no fault of his. Now they are asking him not to wear an amulet or any religious charm? This is a custom in many families and they can't do away with it," cried an outraged Kolkata businessman Subhankar Chakraborty.
A girl told TOI, "How does it matter if someone wears a nose pin?" Candidates have no problem with the bar on gadgets, pens, wallets — or even the intense frisking. "But being asked to wear slippers to the hall is so over the top," said a candidate.
Mukta Nain, principal of Birla High School for Boys — the largest AIPMT centre in Kolkata — says the code makes sense. "Last year, a candidate brought a mobile tucked in his socks and used it during exam. Mobile phones can be hidden in shoes or slipped inside buttoned-up full-sleeve shirts. Perhaps, this is why CBSE has introduced such unique dos and don'ts this year."
However, Amiya Kumar Maity, who coaches AIPMT aspirants, said, "This is wrong because there are several other means by which students can indulge in irregularities. The board cannot put a hand on the religious beliefs and practices of a student. This will lead to more chaos."
There may be another solution, said a senior official of the West Bengal JEE board. "This year we clamped down on cheating simply by installing mobile jammers and flooding exam halls with invigilators. Jammers would block any communication device that is sneaked in by a candidate," he said.
Meanwhile, CBSE has even written to the Union home ministry for deployment of paramilitary forces at exam centres. The re-tests will cost CBSE Rs 38 crore. A senior board official said new admit cards will be issued to approximately 6.3 lakh candidates.
"A list of dos and don'ts will be mentioned in the cards which must be strictly followed. Even the placement of candidate's photograph will be changed to ensure old admit cards are not misused," said one official.