Yet again students’ career and future are being taken for a ride due to irregularities in an examination process. About 80,000-90,000 students appeared for the National level competitive examination conducted by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) for admission into undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD programmes. This examination is conducted every year for admission into various agricultural universities in India and this year was the first time the exam was conducted in an online mode.
Students express grievances
One of The Logical Indian community members, Mr Ashwini Ananda is the Joint Secretary, Northeast Zone of All India Agricultural Students Association (AIASA), which is the only professional and non-political organisation of agriculture students. He brought to our attention the mismanagement and misconduct of the exam.
The ICAR-2018 was conducted on June 22 and June 23. It has been alleged that there were several issues even before the actual exam. On the day of the exam, at some of the centres, it was alleged that the exam was delayed by one to one and a half hours and there were cases of cheating as well.
Receiving multiple complaints from the students, AIASA released a form, urging students to list their grievances. Mr Ananda says, “We got more than 1000 emails from all over the country. We know that this is the first time ICAR has conducted the examination in online mode. AIASA appreciate this effort made by ICAR but unfortunately, there were cases of huge mismanagement at multiple exam centres. As a result, students had to suffer a lot. They are very sad and helpless.”
In the feedback form, students listed issues like receiving admit card just three days before the exam, no proper check of candidates’ identity at the centre, non-functioning biometric systems and non-functional or faulty computer systems allotted to students, among other complaints.
The Logical Indian spoke to some of the students who faced difficulties in taking the exam. One of the candidates, hailing from Jorhat, Assam said, “I had given my exam location preference as Gauhati, Kohima and Dimapur. I was not allotted any of those cities and instead, the centre was given as Siliguri, which takes more than 12 hours to reach by Rajdhani.”
“At my exam centre, most of the systems were not working. Me and many of my friends had to wait for almost an hour. Even after the exam finally started, many of our systems had shut down in between the exam,” he added.
Another student from Banaras Hindu University, who was taking the exam for admission into the postgraduate course, said, “The seating arrangement at my centre was extremely clumsy. Students were sitting close to each other and were able to discuss among themselves. The invigilators were least bothered. Another major flaw was that the number of questions attempted by the candidates was different from the number displayed on our screen. Even on my system, the number of questions displayed as attempted was less than the number of questions I actually attempted.”
A student from Bidar, Karnataka, who had given the location preference of Bagalkot, Bellary and Dharwad but was given Bangalore as the exam location, said, “Apart from giving different exam location, the questions were different. I am a Horticulture student, but my paper had questions mostly from general agriculture.”
Even at his centre, the invigilation was poor. “Some of the students were using mobile phones and even the invigilators knew, but no action was taken.”
The AIASA core committee members met the Director General (DG) of ICAR and submitted the copy of candidates’ grievances. However, it is being alleged that the DG asked for proof and his response was not encouraging.
Find the letter written by AIASA to DG of ICAR, Dr Trilochan Mohapatra, here.
When ICAR was contacted by The Logical Indian, one of the representatives said, “We are aware of the issue and we have asked the students to call on the helpline number. We then record the details of the students and the centre at which they took the exam.”
The representative also added that the primary investigation has begun and the officials have started visiting different exam centres to make note of what caused these problems. When asked about the possibility of a retest, the official said, “Retest may be conducted.”
The Logical Indian take
It is understandable that for the first online mode exam, few discrepancies are possible. However, this is not an isolated instance. Exams like CLAT and SSC have been similarily sloppily conducted. Considering the severity of allegations levelled by the students, and that too in centres across the country, this is not something that should be taken lightly. After all the talk about the demographic dividend, the power of the youth, the future of a vibrant India etc. if thousands of students are held back due to technical glitches or mismanagement then all the talk just remains talk.
The Logical Indian hopes that authorities take notice and empathise with the students. Proper measures should be taken to solve this and it should be ensured that such incidents do not happen in future.