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IIMs decide to hold test again

Calcutta, Nov. 24: The Indian institutes of management today insisted their examination system was “foolproof” but accepted that the common admission test would have to be held all over again.

Murli Manohar Joshi’s human resource development ministry cancelled the test, known as CAT, yesterday after an alleged leak of the question paper.

Bakul Dholakia, the director of IIM Ahmedabad, said: “A detailed internal inquiry has made it evident that there was no leak from our side.”

Until late this evening, there was no communication from the ministry to the IIMs about the incident in which the CBI claimed to have busted a gang in Delhi selling the CAT question paper to candidates for Rs 3-5 lakh.

“We are still in the dark about what happened yesterday. Nobody has seen the papers, which the investigating agency has claimed to have found in a Delhi hotel and later matched with the test papers at an examination centre,” said an IIM Ahmedabad faculty member.

The CAT group, which has representatives from the six IIMs, is meeting in Ahmedabad tomorrow, to be followed the next day by talks among the directors of the institutes.

“Dates of the re-test would be announced by the evening of November 26,” Dholakia said, adding that the IIMs’ primary concern is the 1.27 lakh students who wrote the test yesterday only to find out later that it had been cancelled. “We want the new academic session to start by July 2004,” Dholakia said.

The meetings over the next two days will decide a fresh schedule as well as review the examination procedure in view of the allegation of a leak.

It appears that the decision to hold a re-examination was taken late in the day in internal discussions among the IIMs because earlier there was reluctance to accept the cancellation by the ministry.

“We won’t make any announcement before the CAT group meets, followed by the meeting of directors,” Prakash G. Apte, the IIM Bangalore director, had said.

This position had changed by the evening. Apte said the IIMs were requesting the CBI and the ministry to share information about yesterday’s incident, but there was no indication today that this has happened.

Ministry officials were not available for comment, though yesterday the test was scrapped citing “administrative failure” and “malpractice” in the system. Joshi had iterated the ministry’s stand to replace CAT with a single national test for admission to all management institutes.

The IIMs in Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Calcutta have been opposing this plan. Today, the IIMs did not comment on the Joshi-proposed switch to a single national test, but the fact that they have started evaluating the entire CAT process — from setting the question paper to printing and distribution across centres — suggests they are not moving in that direction.

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