Bihar’s ‘Marks For Money’ exam-fixing operation

Marks For MoneyAccording to an India Today investigation, a mafia of middlemen, school teachers, impostors and perhaps even state education officials are running a massive test-rigging racket in Bihar to help poor-performing students from across the country to cheat their way into colleges.

The investigation came after the publication conducted an on-camera test of the state’s better students such as Arts topper Ruby Rai from Vaishali district who was taped calling Political Science ‘prodigal science’. In an interview Science topper Saurabh Shrestha was not able to answer a basic Chemistry question.

Further investigations found that in Vaishali district, a network of fixers, touts and impostors guaranteeing high scores in the 12th grade appears to be thriving.

One teacher asked the undercover interviewer “Will you get your own scholar to sit in the exam or would you like us to arrange one?” By scholar he meant a professional who would impersonate the original applicant at the exam centre. He went on to promise he would get a scholar from Patna, then announced his charges of Rs.12,000 for the scholar per applicant, of which the scholar takes Rs.10,000 and they keep Rs.2000.

The charges were higher for female candidates as they are in short supply because of poor female literacy in Bihar, he explained. He then quoted additional costs and eventually put the total bill for rigging exams at Rs.25,000 per applicant and a guarantee the student will get a first division pass. One woman principal from another school demanded Rs.60,000 for a first and Rs.50,000 for a second division for 12th class. She also brazenly confirmed fixing exams was a competitive business.

Oddly Bihar has a solid representation in India’s steel frame. It is a leading source of IAS and IPS officers. Historically it has been home to the ancient Nalanda, Odantapura and Vikramshila universities.

Sadly now, the proliferation of test-fixing gangs, aided by some wealthy parents, highlights the momentous challenge the state faces in rectifying its basic education system.