The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Nowhere to hide

Sir — Michael Jackson sure has a way with children. When he is not dangling them from third floor balconies, he seems to be indulging in unmentionable games that should not be played with children (“Boy’s therapist blew whistle”, Nov 24). Assuming that he has been victimized in this particular case is not easy, since one would have expected him to handle children with care after having child-molestation-and-abuse charges brought against him more than once in the recent past. Anyone, who cared about possible defamation and legal action, would steer clear of youngsters after having such allegations brought against him. But not our pop icon, he perhaps finds it impossible to keep himself away from children. And if indeed there is a gang of avaricious parents out there waiting to trap Jackson using their young sons as bait, wouldn’t the sensation-sniffing news-hounds round them up with glee, in the same way that they had caught up with Jackson'

Yours faithfully,
G.K. Chaudhri, Rourkela

Scanner on the scam

Sir — The report, “IIMs clear Delhi chastity test” (Nov 26), says that the Indian Institutes of Management have been cleared by the Central Bureau of Investigation on the question leak allegation. But how can the nodal organization conducting the test avoid responsibility if there is a failure anywhere in the whole chain' For several reasons, the scam appears to be much bigger than what it is perceived to be. A study of the question paper for the common admission test reveals that the principal requirement of the test is the skill to answer as many questions as possible, avoiding negative points for wrong answers while responding to the 150 questions within a short period of two hours. To achieve this, the aspirants start their rat race even earlier, chasing different coaching centres, spending loads of money and slogging for 12 to 16 hours a day a year before the test. The costs are sometimes frightening. Some coaching centres ask for Rs 40,000 or more. Applications also have to be sent to several institutes, each having a separate application fee.

Against this huge investment, the admission rate is frightfully low. The six IIMs take in only about 1,500 people, the associated colleges another 7,000, while some 130,000 candidates put themselves through the grind. The less the opportunity of realizing dreams, the more the effort to manipulate the system. The premier management institutes could not be unaware of this. The institutes should conduct a preliminary test, and the number of candidates called for actual selection should not be more than ten times the total number of seats.

Yours faithfully,
Nikhilendu Pramanik, Calcutta

Sir — The apparent alacrity with which the CBI and the HRD ministry has rounded up those responsible for the leaking of the CAT question paper raises some questions. First, if the CBI knew about the leak before the examination was conducted, why did it wait till the exam was over to tell about it' Perhaps they were waiting to get a copy of the original paper to compare with. But the question paper is circulated ten minutes before the examination. The CBI could not have taken more than a few minutes to do that and then should have informed the administrative body for cancellation. Maybe miraculously the communication system all over the country went dead for the two hours that CAT was conducted. Second, the ministry is not the conducting body for the CAT examination. It had no authority to cancel the examination on its own. The IIMs are the most reputed institutions for post-graduate studies in the corporate sector today. They are not a malfunctioning industry requiring state intervention. Conceivably, the fact that the IIMs earn so much seems to have caught the eye of the ministry. The fact that in the 30 years’ of untarnished reputation, a leak happened the very year the HRD ministry tried to take over the institutes raises suspicion.

Another thing. The CAT is only an elimination test. After getting through the examination, the candidate has to go through a gruelling session of group discussion and personal interview. A candidate whose self-confidence is so low that he is ready to pay Rs 2-4 lakh, equivalent to the fees for the entire MBA course in a good institute, would hardly have a chance to make it to the final level. I often wonder how long students have to suffer the whims and fancies of the education ministry. Students who are in the final year of their graduation, have kept their university examinations on the line to appear for CAT. It not only takes a toll on students’ morale but also on their time, leave alone resources, to appear for the examination again.

Yours faithfully,
Shayoni Chakraborty, Calcutta

Sir — That the CAT scam has been unearthed is commendable. But what do the authorities have to say about the way the test is conducted' At some centres, for example, the test had started before the announced time. Although the invigilators could not prevent students from cheating.

Yours faithfully,
Tisha Mazumdar, via email

Sir — The leakage of this year’s CAT examination paper just goes to expose the deep roots corruption has struck in this country. A new test in February means that the candidates will have to go through a taxing time again. Students like me are now not sure whether to start preparing for the other examinations like those conducted by the Xavier Labour Relations Institute, Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, Institute of Management Technology, or continue with the CAT preparations. The situation has been made worse by the fact that the IIMs recently rejected the government offer to hold a common entrance test for all management courses. Was it just a curious coincidence' What assurance do we have'

Yours faithfully,
Subhobrata Basu, Calcutta

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