Voices Tuesday, July 07, 2015 - 05:30
The Vyapam scam is a Machiavellian story of a state within a state. The trail of fake degrees and stench of death which emanates from it has survived for over a decade, which means it is an institution in itself responsible to no one and capable of destroying other institutions and killing people who come in its way. If that sounds like the Italian mafia, it is, and omerta is practiced and rewarded. In addition to people found dead on railway tracks or hanging in their room, the Vyapam scam leaves a chilling fact for all of us to ponder over some questions – how many unqualified doctors has the system emboldened, how many police officers has it introduced into the system and worse, how many excellent students has it destroyed because they were honest? Vyapam is the Hindi acronym for the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB), the Madhya Pradesh Vyavasayik Pariksha Mandal, which is responsible for conducting entrance exams for professional courses like the pre-medical examination. It has been front-page news and on national television networks for months now. Its perpetrators are presumably hoping the outrage will blow-over so the gravy train can be resumed. Except that this time, there are whistle-blowers, arrests have been made and the bottom has fallen out of its defenders who dismissed early warning signs as stray cases.  The first FIR (First Information Report) was registered fifteen years ago (2000) only because someone was caught doing this thing. This “thing” is a reference to an elaborate and multilayered racket of mass cheating and changing of identities constructed around three pillars – impersonation, engine and bogies system and leaving sheets blank to be filled up later after excellent marks have been attributed. Impersonation is worked out to the finest of details complete with names, identity numbers and addresses so the person writing an exam is not the person getting the results. The engine and bogie is by far the most vicious where the hand of the hidden state is most evident. The engine is a person fixed by the MPPEB and strategically placed so that others can copy from his or her paper. The examiners look the other way, towards their rising bank accounts. Students with money and muscle get into one of India’s most coveted professions – medicine – while many deserving students who burn the midnight oil are diabolically eliminated even before the race begins. This mafia like game has been afoot since the mid 90s when Digvijaya Singh was the Chief Minister, who was succeeded by Babulal Gaur, Uma Bharti and now Shivraj Singh Chouhan. Allegations and counter allegations have been flying around ferociously with all political parties calling for heads from other parties to roll. If Vyapam culprits get away, hospitals will be crime scenes as people from all over India have “qualified” themselves to become doctors through this racket. One of India’s most respected bureaucrats Ashok Khemka tweeted today, “Vyapam death point to worse and scarier scenario than the Sicilian mafia. Stop the rot in public appointments. Supreme Court must step in.” He knows what he is talking about. Transferred 45 times in his 23-year career he is now in a low profile post heading an archeology and museum department. But even from there, his voice haunts the nation.
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