The recent paper leak of the Army Recruitment Board examination sent shock waves across the nation. The exam was scheduled to recruit lower-level officials in the Indian Army. Similar cases of cheating are reported in Maharashtra Board on Saturday. This is not the first time that miscreants got hold of question papers or hacked the government website.
In February, the Bihar Staff Selection Commission’s (BSSC) offline paper was leaked too and many officials, including the chairman, were arrested.
With a country as vast as India, conducting entrance and recruitment examination for millions of candidates is a Herculean task. It just takes one weak link in the chain to nullify the efforts of all those involved in the entire exercise. While the government bears huge financial losses, candidates too face unwarranted hassles.
But then why is that the authority have so far failed to check cheating and paper leaks? According to Pavan Duggal, a cyber law expert, hackers target government servers as they are soft targets. “Most servers are soft targets as they are not well-protected. Many a time, somebody from the conducting body reveals the time the question paper would be uploaded online, making it easier for the hackers to hack the computer,” he said.
Duggal suggested that the best way out is to invest in sound technology while underlining that the government has not yet prioritised cyber security.
“The government has to invest crores to acquire the right technology. Also, we need to keep revisiting the latest cyber security protocols and make stringent laws punishing the criminals,” he added. Another solution to check paper leak is to make examinations completely online, feel experts.
TCS iON conducts online exams for both government and private firm. As per their global head, V Ramaswamy, right from preparing the question paper to getting it conducted in the exam hall, everything should be done by the machines. “In the online exams, somebody drafts the questionnaire first and then it gets uploaded. Therefore, there are chances of paper leak. We suggest to make it completely online where nobody should be aware of what questions will be asked,” said he.
If a question, let’s say, for JEE Main will be asked from chemistry, physics and mathematics, teachers should divide the questions in easy, average and difficult level. Also, if there are three questions to be asked on Trigonometry, then every teachers should give multiple question options on it. Let the computer do the calculations and draft the question papers few minutes before the exam. By this system, no body will know what set of questions will be asked.
Anil Nagar, Founder and CEO, Adda247, said, “The Institute of Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS) is an autonomous body constituted only to conduct exams for all the banks in India. They have sound technology to conduct smooth tests and, therefore, there hasn’t been a single case of leakage report on their part. Other boards and commissions are either not organised enough or don’t have a proper system in place.”
However, last year, when the Staff Selection Commission for the first time conducted an online exam for CGL, there were reports of alleged cheating. An FIR was lodged two months later. “If you are heading for a computer-based test, then there shouldn’t be space for any technical flaw. If the paper is leaked in one centre, then it can happen anywhere,” said Nagar.
The University of Mumbai also faced similar problem and has introduced an improved security measure. As per a report by the Hindustan Times, the colleges will have to download the question papers sent to them online, after undergoing a facial-recognition scan.
The CCTV cameras installed in all exam rooms will record the entire downloading and printing process.
Such highly-guarded methods are used during private colleges test or when hiring is done in some reputed organisation. “In such exams, the facial expression are also scanned to ensure the candidate is not planning any unfair method. If you introduce technologies, it will minimise the risks of cheating, ” Anil Nagar said.
To handle impersonation, Ramaswamy suggests that biometric machines should be used in the exam hall. “Nobody can cheat with their finger prints. This will also help in catching hold of big exam rackets,” he said.
As of now, to plug the loopholes in the existing system of examination, the government has announced to constitute a specialised agency to conduct all entrance exams for engineering and architecture. We can only hope that this new agency has proper infrastructure to hold examinations without any incident of cheating or paper leak.