Exam cheats are going hi-tech. So are the men tasked to test and catch them.
Nearly 200 candidates who cheated on examinations for government jobs, have been disqualified for malpractices by the Centre’s lead recruitment agency, the Staff Selection Commission (SSC).
The candidates had escaped the eyes of the invigilators at the examination centre but a software tool — introduced this year to analyse answer sheets and other details of successful candidates — caught them.
“We issued them showcause notices, cancelled their candidature and debarred them from sitting for our examination for five years,” NK Raghupathy, SSC chairman told HT.
The SSC received about 9 million applications for nearly 30,000 subordinate posts last year, ranging from sub-inspectors for central police organisations to clerks for the Centre’s secretariat services.
This included recruitment for clerks at the Food Corporation of India, where the tool was deployed. “We take a lot of steps to ensure that candidates are not able to cheat and mercilessly disqualify candidates found with a mobile phone on them... but sophisticated technology isn’t something we can detect,” Raghupathy acknowledged.
This probably includes a bluetooth-enabled spy camera, no bigger than a button, a mini-earphone that can be planted deep inside the ear or a mini-microphone that one candidate stitched under the collar of his shirt.
The camera is used to scan an image of the question paper and the bluetooth to transmit it to an expert parked somewhere close-by. The expert then advises a group of candidates, his clients, about the answers.
“It is an organised racket and difficult to catch red-handed... so we too are using technology,” he said. Raghupathy refused to speak about the tell-tale signs of cheating that the statistical tool looks for.
One could be comparing if more than one person at a particular centre had the same set of wrong answers.
The SSC woke up to the problem last year soon after it put out marks scored by all candidates in an exam for police sub-inspectors. For the first time, everyone could see everyone else’s names, marks and rank.
“Within two days, someone sent me a tweet asking how come there were eight toppers from the same examination centre,” said the SSC chief, who has been using micro-blogging site, Twitter, to respond to clarifications about various exams.
“It turned out that they all were sitting in the same hall and had obviously cheated,” he said.
The SSC promptly cancelled their candidature — they were to join as intelligence officers for the Narcotics Control Bureau — and referred the case to the CBI.