We all know the drawbacks of a centralized examination system. This is a system where you have your answer sheets taken to a common place(a place where answers sheets from other colleges are sent too) and corrected by professors, from different colleges, affiliated to the same university. To protect the identity of the answer paper, dummy numbers are given and there is a database known only to certain university officials that match dummy numers to the original numbers. This system is prevalant in India from Xth grade final exams to all University level semester exams.
Ours is a corrupt country. There is no doubt about that. In any sort of administration there is corruption and this system is no different either. Do you think this dummy number crap evaluation system is safe from corruption?"There is corruption in all countries. even America is no exception" say some idiots. "Fuck you", I say to those idiots. " Worry about your own darn country", I say again. Anyway...screw these idiots. Most readers know (like they know a 50Rs can take care of traffic cop) that this happens. Why do they know it? Why do they think that even after getting a failing grade they still have a chance. Because everybody has heard at least one story in their lives on how "these things" happen. I can say with comfortable assurance ( and so can just about anybody who has finished college anywhere in India) that *** No administrator at any level that conducts any sort of exams, can claim with a straight face that there has been no dishonest/immoral act committed in his purview***. From XthStd, XII Std to Universiy exams at all levels, tampering of grades/marks/question paper/answer paper have happened and will continue to happen. I, without any measurement tools but with only intelligent conjecture, conservatively estimate that at least 5% of all results would be as a result of tampering.
So who is to blame for this? Students? Administrators? Both is a good answer. The administrators are certainly to be blamed to start with. The examination evaluation/correction system is so filled with incompetency that the students can easily come up with a justifiable argument as to why they are forced to tamper with papers. Any Judge will uphold that argument. Imagine! then, the level of incompetency among those who are in charge of evaluation. Let me tell you, the evaluation of most exam papers is so insincere so opaque that it defies all logic. When I was in college about 10 years before, I knew going into the exams that I would get 8 random scores generated in my mark sheet, a few months after the exams. Somehow for me, while the overall average-score (of the 8 subjects put together) reflected what I expected, the individual scores defied all logic. I think this was true for most students - while the average overal score reflected their ability, their individual scores had nothing in common with their performance in those exams.I remember in a paper called "Network Theory", I got 45 on 100 (which is the called the "stamp" score i.e you are stamped as pass by giving the minimum possible pass mark). In an exam called "electric circuits", people who had not answered two or three 12 point questions scored 97 and 99 out of 100. I never had that sort of luck. I only got to see the downside of this random number game. I distinctly recall doing the Network Theory exam very well and was expecting something in the high 90's. I know! I know! all students have an over inflated mental image of the performances. I had it at some point too. But the bubble was burst by the time I was in Engineering. I had no qualms in dicussing the question paper with someone after the exam was over. Infact, while many people disliked post-mortem, I wouldn't rest until I had done a comprehensive autopsy on how I did my paper. Me and my friend, lets call him logic ramani -- we would would ram the qustion paper to submission until we got a decent picture of how much we would score. I had this weird habbit. From XIIth standard, I would put an "expected score" on the top of my question paper and then after the results were announced, I would go and put the "actual score". Any decent statistician would resign from this habbit after he/she got a 20% match rate after the first two semesters. But I chugged on. Because I knew I shouldn't take the evaluation of some blind greedy idiots to be an indication of my predictive abilities. I knew that even though I was a student, I could at least evaluate something better than those buffoons who were paid to do that job.
I'll tell you what! Most of the times, I really thought that there was no correction going on at all. I used to imagine that the answer paper evaluation was done along these lines ( its a joke ofcourse but it could be true also :-) ) -- There would be a board of people in a room discussing each candidate on a case-by-case basis. When my name came up the board would discuss. "Bharath...hmm..lets se..idolizes tedulkar..runs behind aishwarya rai posters...eats too much pani puri in gangotri... pest to the teachers...studies only the day before the exam".. "what do you say Srinivasan (HOD Matheatics... go figure)"..."What do you think he should get". Then Srinivasan would rub his vazhukku mandai up and down and put the tip of his pen inside his nose and say " he is average.. give him someting around 75%". Then the convenor of the meeting would say "Kaathimuthu..(the attendant).. generate 8 numbers using the srand function so that the average score comes between 74-76". And so my answer paper was generated. So were everybody else's answer papers. "She got long legs and a sexy body..give her a 83"... "this dude wears the same shirt everyday to class ..he stinks give him a 62% with 3 arrears"... "I am planning to marry my daughter to this bloke some day.. give him an 85"..."This fellow stares at my wife in a weird way.. give him a 51% with all pass"(the worst of all decisions) After we get our results, my friend would scratch his head and say "95... in Antenna and Wave propagation...and I didn't even know there were 4 maxwell equatios.. I thought there were just 2". About 20 people in my class got a score between 81-85 in "Statistical Theory of Communication" and about 70% of those didn't expect to pass that exam.
I remember a "controller of examinations" telling my father, " your son will always say he did the exam well sir! Will I believe your son or my professor". While my dad should have said " your professor is an under-sexed lazy bastard who just wants to make a fast buck by correcting as many papers as he can ( because he is paid by the paper)", he merely said " can you please consider..re-evaluating.". I saw my answer paper. The SOB who was supposed to have evaluated it..did not evaluate it at all. There were some random check marks here and there and no points given for 80% of the questions. Then upon closer inspection, in a small font 4 size characters, I found a zero put under the question number of each answer. I immediately knew that this paper was found uncorrected, when I made my complaint and just to tally the score with what was reported in the answer sheet, the assoles had made an attendant write points on my answer sheet that would total to the reported score (and the answer paper would appear as "evaluated"). I was standing near that controller of examinations at that time and inspite of repeated warnings from my father to keep my mouth shut, I told him " But this paper has not been evaluated at all. None of the questions have been marked right or wrong. They have been randomy struck down". To which he replies... and this is rich.." You should focus on studying rather than blaming other people for your performances". The morons have no compunctions in dishing out moral lectures when the least they could do is shut up. The adminsitration surrouding the exams is so riddled with holes that it really has not right to give out moral lectures. Since it is also the disciplinary body, it loses all credibility, when it chastises any student for a crime (like the one in the link shown above). On seeing news reports like this, I am thinking " how many of you bufoons would get caught if I unleashed the CBI on the administration"
Next come the students. Who are also certainly culpable. Blame it on the management again to admit near-sighted ignorant bumpkins from "thookunayakampettipalayam" because they gave fat donations. In my first year, I had a classmate (whose name and village, I don't recollect..the village cannot be spotted in the India map) who did not know how to move variables either side of the "equal to" sign. Well you know.. the x + y = m - c can also be written as x = m - c - y. This dude couldn't do this. He did not know multiply became divide when it was pushed to the other side of the =. These students invariable keep two to three arrears (backlogs due to failing grades) each semester. These are the students who chase papers, who do all those immoral acts to pass the exams. The students who had 1 or 2 arrears over all were the poor ones who worried if the scores would affect their careers. They were the ones whose parents woke up at odd hours to give them Horlicks and Maltova and worried like hell until they passed. People who had 28 or 35 arrears during their 8th semester didn't care a shit, they never told their parents about their results ( one guy told his parents that the results of all 8 semesters is traditionally released after the 4 years are over.. guess what! his parents believed him) and just magically cleared all their arrears in the 8th semester. It is like they paid in bulk to clear the exams. They completed the supply-demand link in the corruption life-cycle of the examination system. Who cares whats in the answer paper? What goes into the computer is your actual score. So if the computer guy can be bribed you have nailed the system. This happens everywhere in India. The govt turns a blind eye to it. Why? because "why would I believe you instead of trusting my own professors". The students in the news item (linked above) changed the answer paper after it was submitted for centralized correction and before the identity numbers were replaced with the dummy numbers. I see my college's name has also been mentioned in the news report. What a shame? My college was a pretty reputed college and really was not known for these kind of activities, when I was a student. It was one of the best private colleges in the state (the seats would get filled up on the first session of the first day during engineering admissions). I am kind of ashamed, as an alumni, that this has happened in my college.
At least nowadays things are better. If you pay a lot ( a lot) of money you get a photocopy of your answer paper from the university legally. And for a hefty sum you can get the paper, re-totalled and re-evaluated. In my days there was no such thing. Once we submitted our answer papers, retotalling our answer paper was the only option. And if you were not in your final semester, a pre-printed "Dear John" card which has " we totalled your answer paper.. we are sorry to say that we still think you sucked badly in that exam" would be appended with your postal address and sent to you.
The only thing, that can reasonably be called a solution to this whole "evaluation" issue is that a photocopy of the answer paper should be given back to the students on the same day they write the exams ( the university makes another photo copy keeps a local copybefore it sends it for evaluation). And when the results are announced, the "evaluated" answer papers (or their copies) should be given to the students and an independent body should verify if what is being returned matches what was submitted. This should all be done free of charge instead of fleecing the students with more fees. This would also ensure that the student's paper is actually avluated instead of random number generation. Other than this, I don't see an alternate solution to this answer paper correction system. The US system of internal evaluation will not work in India. If such a system was introduced (as it has been in some colleges) then you would see students being treated as slaves by the teachers(as it is also happening in some colleges). Next thing you know -- students would buying stuff like diapers to sanitary napkins for the teachers families. The students would be terrorized and forced to wear military style unforms and probably even salute the teachers everytime they walked by. An internal evaluation system involves honesty and love for your work. Something that is certainly not found anywhere in the our educational system, where the faculty scenario is plagued by low-pay complains, lack of motivation and complete absence of any competition.