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Wrong answers okay for national talent search?

Which Indian state has its own separate constitution? The correct answer is Jammu and Kashmir. It is the first time in 46 yrs since its start in 1963 that the prestigious exams have come under a shadow, reports Manish Tiwari.

india Updated: Jul 01, 2009 01:50 IST
Manish Tiwari

Which Indian state has its own separate constitution? The correct answer is Jammu and Kashmir.

<b1>But according to a state-wide test for scholarship hopefuls of Punjab held in November 2008 it is Bihar. Those who said Bihar, probably got green-flagged for the next and final stage of the prestigious National Talent Search Examination, a programme that allows 1,000 finalists – from over a lakh applicants nationwide — a much-sought after scholarship or Rs 500 a month.

It is the first time in 46 years — since its start in 1963 — that the prestigious exams have come under a shadow.

There were more such factual errors passed off as correct. Here are more:

1) The President of India is the leader of the ruling party. It’s the Prime Minister.

2) Chairman presides over the Lok Sabha and Speaker over the Rajya Sabha. It’s the other way around.

3) Ministers can be chosen from the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha only, and not outside the legislature. They can be inducted from outside, but they must get elected to either within six months.

4) Dengue is caused by bacteria. It’s a virus.

“This looks to be a serious matter,” Punjab’s Principal Secretary (School Education) K.B.S. Sidhu said.

“This seems to be quite scandalous,” said Anil Bordia, noted educationist and former Education Secretary of India.

The national talent search examination is open only to Class VIII students. They have to first clear a state-level test administered by the State Council of Education Research and Training of every state.

The successful candidates then take an all-India exam conducted by the National Council for Education Research and Training.

The reward is a scholarship of Rs 500 a month. There is something for those who failed to clear also - Rs 200 a month, for the same period - Class IX and right through to the PhD level, if the student goes that far.

The flaws emerged after Ludhiana student Isha Ramneek didn’t clear the first stage test in Punjab. Her father, Ramneek Verma, was very confident of his daughter’s abilities, and he wanted to know why she failed.

When Verma put in a Right To Information petition asking for the question papers, the model answers against which the test papers are checked by the examiners, and the answer sheets, the truth emerged.

“The NCERT has the overall responsibility of this,” said Bordia. “And its chief must take serious note of the issue and undertake corrective measures.”

The head of the national talent search examination Avtar Singh is in a quandry. “What do I do?” he asked. “We conduct the exam at the second stage. I can’t go to every state asking whether the system adopted by them is correct or not. I can’t do anything.”

Asked if it was not NCERT’s responsibility to ensure that only the deserving candidates were selected, Singh said: “If the matter comes to our notice through official channel, we will look into this.”