June 28, 2013

Delhi University Cut Offs

For as long as I can remember reading newspapers ... which has been a pretty long time by now, like 20 years, I remember this annual summer 'tamasha' called 'Delhi University cut off.' And 10 or 20 years ago, I was NOT living in Delhi but Delhi news sort of gets transmitted all over India. This was probably more true years back when newspapers did not have so many 'city' editions.

But let's talk about this 'cut off' business. What does this tell us?

  1. I think the fact that the 'cut off' is 95 or 97 or 99 or even 100% says that the exams in which these students scored that much are more or less farcical. So, how come CBSE exams have come to this sorry pass. I believe the reason is that in India, all sorts of competitive exams have been converted into multiple-choice type exams. Thus, Indian students are mostly good at cramming information for exams and then regurgitating those. The reason why we have multiple-choice type exams is of course also to do with the fact that this makes the evaluation 'watertight' in a manner of speaking. The answer sheets can be evaluated by OCR readers and computers eliminating human intervention and therefore the ever-present danger of 'corruption.' Indians seem to be genetically predisposed to be corrupt and really no class of people are free from the 'temptations' of money. Teachers can be corrupt; the police can be corrupt and often are corrupt; government servants are 'famous' for taking bribes and businessmen are famous for paying those bribes!

    So by making the tests multiple-choice type, the scope for corruption is sought to be eliminated. So, all sorts of tests such as IIM CAT or IIT JEE and other engineering entrance exams and GATE, NET and what not are all conducted using this multiple-choice format. Obviously, the 'written tests' for recruitment to PSUs or PSU banks and definitely for recruitment to government posts are conducted in this manner as well. The desire that Indians have to 'land' one of these 'cushy' jobs which guarantees lifetime employment can only be described as 'sky-high' or 'gargantuan' or 'Himalayan' or as large as the Grand Canyon is grand.

    So, how does one even begin to introduce elements of 'subjective' assessment into various tests and exams and so on? When will the evaluaters become free from temptation and evaluate papers without consideration for bribes offered? And when will parents stop offering bribes? But of course this is easier said than done. The business of bribes starts smart and early in one's life here in India. Parents have to struggle like anything to get their 3 or 4 year old babies into good schools (which are invariably 'private' schools.) Schools put the babies through some sort of 'test' after which they either accept or reject the babies. If the babies fail, the parents become quite desperate and resort to everything from begging the school principal to offering cash. Of course, even those who do get selected for admission to the school happily pay the cash 'donation' for they are mightily grateful to the school for having accepted their kid.
  2. The other question which has been nagging me is this: are all the talented students of India studying in CBSE schools? The toppers in the various State Boards of India do not manage to score the ridiculously high percentages such as 95% or 97%, let alone 100%. So they would never get into Delhi University though they might be better than the CBSE students who have scored higher percentages.
  3. Are all good students in India studying in English-medium schools as the CBSE schools are? Are all the millions of students who study in UP Board or Bihar Board or Tamil Nadu or Maharashtra Board or any of the other state boards no good for Delhi University?? Seems clearly discriminatory towards students who are not from an English-medium background.
Of course, I am not too familiar with the academic world as such having neither studied much myself nor having any kids whose education — schooling or colleging — I have to worry about or worried about. My interest in Delhi University cut offs is therefore purely ... ummm ... err ... 'academic.' May be I am simply unfamiliar with 'facts' and my points are completely wrong. My apologies if that is the case. I look forward to someone explaining the 'facts' to me.

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