Thursday, April 25, 2024
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Cleaning the augean stables

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A praiseworthy step from the Narendra Modi-led government is introduction of the Public Examinations (prevention of unfair means) Bill in Parliament. As the saying goes, better late than never. The Bill aims to check malpractices in the public examination system, which often demoralises the educated youths. The aim of the new law, it stated, is to bring “greater transparency, fairness and credibility to the examination system.” Any indulgence or tampering with the examination system for monetary or wrongful gain will be punishable with a maximum jail term of 10 years and a fine up to Rs one crore. The context needs some elaboration.
Cancellation of exams for teacher recruitment in Rajasthan, a question paper leak scam in Telangana, irregularities relating to Common Eligibility Test for Group-D posts in Haryana and the recruitment exam for clerks in Gujarat, the question paper leak for constable recruitment in Bihar were among the major instances of recently reported malpractices. No examination system in this country can be certified to be free of malpractices, but the Modi-dispensation closed its eyes on such matters thus far. The present bill promises, among other steps, to secure computerized examination systems from tampering and punishment to government officials too. Systems go for a toss as vested interests tighten their grip over these and make hay. All systems here are facing odds due to unbridled acts of tampering at the behest of the political class or by the bureaucracy itself. Good Governance is often a casualty in democracies as those who form governments have no clear perspective about the way a nation should be run or ruled. India, though, is fortunate to have had some visionary leaders at the apex of its governance. It also had the good fortune, of late, to have stable governments — after Rajiv Gandhi as Prime Minister introduced the anti-defection law; and the electorate generally gave clear mandates. However, such attempts to strengthen the rusted systems have not been a strong point with the Modi dispensation.
One of the first acts of Narendra Modi as PM was to end the interview system for lower level central government jobs, thereby giving direct appointments to those who pass the competitive exams. He rarely acted with a reformative zeal later. GST was a UPA baby. The judicial system is facing serious strains due to pendency of cases, in crores, and perceptions about corruption in its ranks. President Droupadi Murmu had noted the poor performance of Indian universities as they failed to show up in the lists of world’s top 100 universities. It’s time to clean up the Augean stables. Reforms are the way forward, but a prerequisite is an enlightened leadership. The present Bill might be passed into law, but the question is whether the law alone can change things for the better.

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