Ranvijay Singh had his worst nightmare come true when he learned that the examination paper to make him eligible for Assistant Professorship he attempted was leaked allegedly by the people running examination centres. He took the National Eligibility Test (NET) of the University Grants Commission (UGC) after a gap of 18 months as the country remained locked due to raging coronavirus. The examination in question must be passed by any post-graduate student willing to teach in state and central government's colleges.
Sharing his journey, Singh, who hails from Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, said that he was informed by one of his friends that the paper was allegedly leaked.
"I come from a peasant family, and my father has been funding my studies and preparations. I have lived in Delhi for the last four years in a rented house. My family and I are bearing the hardship hoping that our misery will end soon. But one fine day, I found that my paper had been leaked. All the preparations are in the dustbin now. Both UGC and National Testing Agency (NTA) are not taking up any responsibility, and no solution is in sight now. The agencies do not know how much energy and hope the students put in preparing for these tests."
The media reports suggest that the alleged paper leak occurred when the people running examination centres in Bhiwani and Jind took Rs 3 Lakh/candidate to get them passed.
Singh is among many students who have come to the UGC headquarters in the national capital to show their anguish against the leak.
Standing beside Singh, Vishnu Prabhakar, who too appeared for the test, told NewsClick that the students are very much aggrieved by the leak. Showing one of the Telegram groups with 12000 students as members, Prabhakar emphasised that there will be more intensified protests if UGC does not take the issue seriously.
"The NTA has failed time and again in preserving the sanctity of the examinations. Paper leaks are a constant phenomenon now. I left my studies in Sciences and pursued Hindi Literature only because I loved it. I want to pursue research further, but you feel disheartened and disappointed when you see your dreams collapsing in front of your eyes," Prabhakar said.
N Sai Balaji, National President, All India Students' Association (AISA), spoke against the plan of conducting the Central Universities Common Entrance Test (CUCET).
"This NTA is not even able to hold NET exams, and the government is pushing all universities towards a CUCET! The responsibility of examinations must be immediately taken away from NTA."
Echoing similar sentiments, Sumit Kataria, President, Students' Federation of India (SFI), said, "There is a long history of paper leaks in Haryana. It's not a new thing. Yet, leaking NET exam papers are not a usual thing. We demand the proper investigation of paper leaks, re-examination and due punishment to the culprits behind this."
The memorandum submitted to Additional Secretary, UGC by the activists of AISA and SFI, said, "This is not the first incident where an examination paper has been leaked. The paper leak has become commonplace under the BJP regime. Students prepare for years for centrally held examinations only to find out that the question paper for the exam has been leaked. Several states, especially the BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh, have also seen several incidents of question papers being the leak. Ever since the government has relieved itself of the responsibility and hence accountability of holding such examinations centrally and passed on the buck to NTA, there have been massive problems. Questions papers are periodically leaked, examination and declaration of examination results are repeatedly and extensively delayed, but here is public accountability on the NTA. The UGC which comes under the Ministry of Education and hence holds public accountability must once again take up the responsibility of conducting the examination."