The government and Rajya Sabha MPs heatedly debated and argued — even forcing an adjournment — on Friday over Hindi speakers increasingly suffering in the Joint Entrance Examination for the Indian Institutes of Technology.
They forgot to check the facts — Hindi test takers have steadily been improving their performance in the test, considered one of the toughest examinations in the world.
MPs across party lines – including Congress leader Satyavrat Chaturvedi — accused the government of a pro-English bias, suggesting that the IIT JEE was increasingly biased against Hindi speakers.
“My observation is that more and more students from urban areas, more so, who have taken education in English medium, tend to get admitted in the IITs,” argued Shiv Sena MP Bharatkumar Raut. Over 10 minutes into the shouting match, HRD minister Kapil Sibal came to the defense of his deputy D Purandweswari to point out that the IIT-JEE is conducted in both English and Hindi.
But missed in the debate was the silent but definite improvement in performance of those who take the IIT-JEE in Hindi over the past few years.
The fraction of Hindi test takers among those who qualified in the IIT-JEE increased from 1.27 % in 2008 to 1.84% in 2009, before taking a massive leap to 5.52 % in 2010 – a year in which the JEE was ironically dogged by errors in Hindi question papers.
Out of 8,661 seats on offer in 2008, 110 were taken by those who appeared for the test in Hindi, while the figure rose to 184 out of 9,950 seats in 2009 and 554 out of 10,035 in 2010, according to the confidential JEE reports of the IITs accessed by HT.