Unfair means

Sir - The use of unfair practices in the All India Pre-Medical and Pre-Dental Entrance Test goes against the spirit of competitive examinations ("Failing the test", June 18). Lakhs of students prepare for this exam for over a year. However, only a small percentage of them gets an opportunity to pursue the course. Keeping in mind the sheer number of students who appear for the examination from all over the country, the mechanism of conducting the test has to be improved. Re-examinations, online examinations and the installing of mobile jammers at test venues are some of the steps that can be undertaken as short-term measures. However, a long-term solution would require academic institutions to institute technology-based systems so that examinations are free of unfair practices. It is time hard-working students are given their due honour.

Yours faithfully,
Kshama Agarwal,

Sir - The future of aspiring doctors hangs in the balance due to an order by the apex court that scrapped the AIPMT. The verdict was aimed at restoring the "sanctity" of the AIPMT. The Central Board of Secondary Education had conducted this test to select approximately 3,200 doctors from nearly 6.3 lakh candidates. There was extensive cheating by some students who received the answers on their mobile phones. The matter was reported by aggrieved students and parents. On scrutiny, 44 examinees were found to have cheated during the test. As a result of the unfair means adopted by some, the future of a number of bright students has now come under a cloud. There is no guarantee that a candidate will qualify in the re-examination.

There are various other competitive examinations for the selection of candidates into elite services. If question papers for the examinations held to select candidates for key services like the IAS, IPS and IFS by the Union Public Service Commission can be compromised, then there can be little hope for other examinations. Exemplary punishment has not been meted out on most occasions. This has resulted in the opening up of the floodgates of unethical practices. Several IIT and IIM examinations have also been cancelled due to such unscrupulous activities.

Instead of multiple choice questions, the earlier pattern of short theoretical questions should be followed in competitive examinations. Those who have been found guilty of cheating in the AIPMT should be punished severely for damaging the career of honest and deserving students. The request made by the CBSE - for three months time instead of four weeks for the re-test on July 25 - was practical.

Yours faithfully,
Charu C. Diwan,

Old wounds

Sir - When a Dalit girl was fetching water from a hand pump, her shadow fell on a high-caste muscleman who happened to be passing by ("Dalit girl beaten up", June 17). Enraged women from the man's family thrashed the girl and threatened her with dire consequences if she came to fetch water from the same site again. A case was registered in the Gadi Malhera police station by the girl's father under Sections 323, 341 and 506 of the Indian Penal Code.

Six decades after Independence, the practice of untouchability prevails in several remote villages. This is a blot on the government and on India. The Constitution has abolished untouchability. Yet instances of prejudice against Dalits are common. These incidents occur in spite of the existence of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, which was amended in 2013 and in 2014.

Yours faithfully,
Vijay Dattatray Patil,

Parting shot

Sir - A motor vehicle agreement has been signed by India, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh that will make cross-border movement of people and goods a lot easier. Turning border roads into economic corridors can increase trade by 60 per cent. A similar framework has been finalized between India, Myanmar and Thailand. Once that agreement is signed, India would gain access to a larger Asian market.

Yours faithfully,
Devendra Khurana,

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