Window of Opportunity?: Stop Mocking the ‘Cheaters’ of Bihar

By Jitendra Kumar,

All day today photographs of parents and guardians helping their wards to cheat were in circulation on social media and news sites. This has unleashed a wave of ridicule targeted at not only Bihar’s education system but also at students appearing for those exams, and generally Biharis across the country. The Bihari students have been silenced and shamed.

Fortunately or not, I’ve been a full time student at JNU, Jamia, DU, Himachal University, Magadh University and IGNOU too. Thus I’m neither impressed – nor aghast – when you show me the pictures suggesting only students from Bihar cheat. In fact these are the poor students who haven’t learned to use WiFi yet.

Bihar Cheting

They are those unlucky students whose teacher guesses ten questions, of which any five are bound to make it to the question paper. But they are not those students for whom 30 marks are assigned for internal assessment. Their parents are still too ‘backward’ to put them in schools which only provide general marking. It is this ‘backwardness’ led by poverty which brings out the courage to clamber up the walls up to the fourth floor. Actually, it would be better to see these parents as the examinees. What prompts them to risk life and limb? The answer to this would never be published. The visuals of the ‘answer’ would never be published.

There might be several girls whose marriages are bundled with the fate of their marksheet. The government hardly provides any job opportunity, but if they manage to pass the examination, their chances of getting a decent and respectable bridegroom increases. Their parents are eager that their daughters pass the examination – they will have to manage less dowry. Every single additional mark managed by the girl would relieve the tension of her father in direct proportion. This daredevilry of the parents not only shows them helping to cheat but the necessity of a marksheet.

Thus the eagerness comes to climb up to the fourth floor. There might be several students who are not necessarily dumb but only higher marks can make them eligible to get their admissions in colleges or sit in competitive exams. Once they are out applying for their admissions, they have to compete equally with others coming from different schools, different background and different boards. This ‘different’ stands for privileged. When education is already sold out to private players, and seat availability in government colleges woefully less than required, can we blame the students?

Clearly, they are not the ones who can afford private collages or coaching centres like those in Kota. Thus the eagerness comes to climb up fourth floor. Sensational photographs definitely tickle us, but sadly there will be no visual archive of the way in which they live in temporary arrangements in cities for this exam. Up to ten students stay in one small room hired for examinations, bringing rice and other important items from their villages. Failing in these examinations scares them more than climbing up or the police’s lathi charge.

In any case, this education doesn’t provide them jobs necessarily but mere social status due to over-valorized Matric pass status. The risk is for that as well. Thus the eagerness to climb up to fourth floor. These people are definitely frightened of heights, police’s lathicharge and even a lock up in the worst scenario – but their children got a Siksha Mitra instead of a competent teacher. ‘Homework’ for them has implied helping their parents in household chores and earning extra income. In classes before lunch, most of them dream about the day’s menu of mid day meal. Thus these parents are not helping their children to cheat but trying to compensate for what they actually deserved, but never got.

A Tenth-pass certificate is not only a result of an examination but its a competition between those who have and those who don’t. And these parents are only too aware of that. Anyhow tomorrow, they have to compete on ‘equal’ terms with those who had better facilities, teachers, books, food with no worries.

In 1996, there was an attempt to scuttle down cheating attempts. Less than 15% pass results were published across Bihar. That also, mostly third division. Those third division passed students were cream of the society back then. But what happened later! Most of them were denied those opportunities in vacancies due to marks.

If I were one among those parents, I too would have climbed up to the top floor too for a better future for my child. When teachers to education ministers are devoid of ethics or empathy, don’t put the blame on children. They are only kids learning to survive.

Writer is a student of JNU and hails from Bihar.  

  • Radhasut

    Do not try to justify the unjustifiable. And India Resist stop publishing such articles.
    By publishing such articles you are promoting bad behaviour. In addition to this, you are trampling the good students honest attempts to succeed in life.
    These same people will develop into goons, rowdies and criminals. May be they will contest elections and get elected. And they will perpetuate the same behaviour and then YOU WILL HAVE TO WRITE MORE ARTICLES TO CORRECT THEM.
    Aplogise to the public and Withdraw the article as soon as you read this.

  • AD

    In the midst of all the mocking and the name-calling, we forget to address the issues that got us in this terrible situation in the first place. Acknowledging privilege doesn’t mean that the privileged have had it very easy. It only means that we have had it better than some other people. Unfortunately, hard work and dedication alone cannot bridge this gap.

    Cheating is still cheating and should not be condoned, even if we understand their reasons for doing so. Ridiculing them with no intention to improve their situation is just as harmful.

  • WHL

    Gut them. Gut them ALL! The integrity of the system should justify itself!

  • Vivek Antil

    Mr. Author, I got your point and this scenario is not restricted to Bihar but in every state of India. Therefore pointing only towards Bihar is wrong on the media part. I agree with your Thi point too that many of these students will be poor, but are you sure all of these students are not economically well off. Secondly are they able to do cheating without bearing any cost? Don’t they have to pay any bribe or bear other expenses to cheat and if they have to pay then how they afford? Thirdly how do they make cheat notes? Is it possible without books? I don’t think it is possible. Therefore its better to agree that what’s happening in ur state is wrong then justifying it with other wrongs behind it. By doing so you are insulting the hardworkers of your state who clear so many national level entrance exams despite of coming from not so rich background. Your such articles will bring every achiever of your state under radar of doubt behind his or her success.

  • Hary

    Thought provoking article indeed. Too often we focus on the symptoms of a problems rather than the cause. Keep up the good work. Meritocracy needs to be problematized and deconstructed to understand the politics behind it.

  • Redshadow

    I’m not surprised that the author is from JNU. It is the chicken and egg problem- are students going to JNU already politically deranged or is it JNU that makes them so.

  • Jitendra K

    Redshadow is from IIN. Completely ranged with politics. 😉 Anyways.. just a few days ago, the same venues conducted BPSC exams and SSC. The same venues conducted elections last year when BJP got majority of seats. Those were much valued activities in compare of this ongoing Xth exams. So its requested to these intellectuals then that why cheating was not rampant then! How did govt managed to have fair elections. Search google’ there are 28 private deemed universities against those UGC and supreme court themselves have questioned. There is no uproar in media or social media against that! I’m not justifying cheating but your silence against those does. Don’t you have any idea how people get their MBA degrees from Sikkim! But if you cry selectively to prove yourself honest, its Criminal. Thus i urge you to stop mocking those students in particular. Let’s build consensus to change education system to bring equality else we are making a criminal society and those ‘cheaters’ are smallest in them.

  • J Sathyamoorthy

    To ward off the social evil of poverty, promote another social evil, justify copying in exams.
    By this logic, everything is fair.

  • newuser1

    typical left crap where you justify your wrong acts by claiming victimhood and presecution. I had hoped that this website was for serious matters and not a forum for megalomaniacs and deluded.

  • newuser1

    JNU makes people uselsss and deranged or are these prequisites for entering the university in the first place?

  • Pankaj Agrawal

    Compete with which better off parts of India? Most of the school system in India is in similar state. If someone really wants to study, schools or teachers can only help. The real contributor is students own zeal. The problem in Bihar is not the system, but the people.

  • newuser1

    more news about ‘students’ from Bihar:
    Protest Against Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar Turns Violent