Exam Paper Leaks- Concerns and Way Forward- Explained Pointwise

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Recently, exam paper leaks in the Hindi heartland become one of the top poll issues in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections. Exam paper leaks and scams in states of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Bihar, have been a key concern for young voters in the age group of 18-25. In this article, we will delve into the issue of exam paper leaks and the ways in which it can be curtailed.

Exam leak
Source- The Indian Express
Table of Content
What are the recent cases of exam paper leaks in India?
What are the negative impacts of frequent Paper leaks in India? 
What steps have been taken to address the exam paper leaks in India?
What are the lacunae with the exam system in India?
What should be the Way Forward?

What are the recent cases of exam paper leaks in India?

There have been 41 paper leaks over the last five years in 15 states, which has affected 1.4 crore job seekers who had applied for over one lakh vacancies. This has translated into angst and disappointment among the young voters. Some of the recent paper leaks are mentioned below-

1. UP Constable Recruitment and Promotion Exam Paper Leak (2023)- The UP Constable recruitment and promotion examination paper was leaked, leading to the cancellation of the exam and the arrest of three individuals suspected of being involved in the scam.

2. REET 2023 Paper Leak- The Rajasthan Eligibility for Elementary Teachers (REET) exam paper leak which was conducted by the Rajasthan Subordinate and Ministerial Services Selection Board (RSMSSB).

3. TSPSC Assistant Engineer Exam Paper Leak (2023)- The Telangana State Public Service Commission (TSPSC) Assistant Engineer recruitment exam was cancelled due to paper leak.

4. NEET UG 2024- The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for undergraduate medical courses witnessed multiple paper leak incidents.

5. Assam Class 10 Board Exam 2024- In Assam, a paper leak in the Class 10 state board exams prompted significant political controversy and public outcry.

What are the negative impacts of frequent Paper leaks in India? 

1. Disproportionate impact on rural and marginalized community students- The students from remote rural backgrounds and marginalised castes, are disproportionately impacted as they come with the pressure of debts undertaken to pay fees of applications, coaching centres and computer training centres and rent.

2. Emotional, Mental and Physical Fatigue- With the cancellation of exams, there is an increase in the fatigue of students and the fear of a new generation of aspirants joining the queue.

3. Exacerbation of Job Crisis- The cancellation of recruitment procedures has added to spiralling of crises in the already scarce job market.

4. Disruption of academic calendars- The postponement and cancellation of Exams due to paper leaks, throw the academic schedules into disarray and cause uncertainty for students.

5. Loss of trust and confidence- The frequent paper leaks lead to students loosing their faith in the fairness and meritocracy of exams, and questions the value of their efforts and education.

What steps have been taken to address the exam paper leaks in India? 

To address the issue of exam paper leaks in India, the following steps have been undertaken.

1. Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act- The act aims to prevent unfair means in the public examinations. This act aims to  bring greater transparency, fairness and credibility in the public examinations system.

Read More- Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act

2. Formation of the National Testing Agency (NTA)- The NTA was formed as a professional exam-conducting body to make the examination system more scientific, reliable, and professional.

3. Transition to Online Exams- Moving exams online was thought to be a solution to paper-based exams, as it reduces the risks associated with printing and distribution.

What are the lacunae with the exam system in India?

1. Loopholes in the Examination Process- Question paper setting, printing, and distribution are often vulnerable to leaks due to inadequate security measures.

2. Inadequate IT Systems- Online exams are vulnerable due to inadequate testing and deployment of IT systems. This further makes them susceptible to hacking.

3. Inadequate Penalties and Enforcement- The existing laws which criminalize cheating have not led to convictions. This demonstrates lack of effective enforcement and penalties.

4. Lack of Special Investigation Agency- India lacks a dedicated agency to investigate all types of examination offenses and bring culprits to justice quickly.

5. Discretion of the state governments in adopting the Public Examinations Bill- The Public Examination Bill leaves it to the discretion of the state governments to draft their own acts by serving as a model bill. However, state governments have displayed partisan interests in drafting model bills in the past, like the Model APLM Act.

What should be the Way Forward?

1. Compensation in case of exam cancellation- There must be adequate compensation for years of labour, exorbitant financial cost, and the emotional toll incurred by lakhs of candidates who pin all their hopes on the public exam.

2. Establishment of fast-track courts- Fast track courts must be established for the trial and convictions for people involved in paper leaks.

3. Strengthening of Examination Processes- We must enhance security measures in question paper setting, printing, and distribution to plug loopholes. We must leverage blockchain technology to securely store and manage exam-related data.

4. Enhancement of Penalties and Enforcement- We must impose stringent penalties on persons resorting to unfair means, as per the Public Examinations Prevention of Unfair Means Act.

Read More- The Indian Express
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