Ruby Rai, the Bihar Board Class XII topper in Arts stream who hit national notoriety with her opinion that “prodigal science” is the “science of cooking” when asked by a news channel to explain political science, did not take a fresh test conducted by an embarrassed Bihar School Examination Board (BSEB) on Friday to retest 14 state ‘toppers’.
The first seven rank-holders each from Science and Arts stream were asked to sit for a special test and undergo an interview. They are required to score more than 70 per cent in Friday’s test to retain their position in the merit list.
While 13 of the 14 students took Friday’s test, Ruby did not appear since she was “depressed”, according to officials from her educational institution — Vishun Roy College in Bhagwanpur of Vaishali district, close to Patna. The BSEB has not clarified whether it will give her another chance to take the retest.
Besides Ruby, the state topper in Science, Saurav Srestha, and two others in the top 14 are students of the same institute, which has been riddled with controversy for the unusually high number of rank-holders it spawns each year. There are allegations that the institute’s director, Amit Kumar, alias Bachcha Rai, is close to some leaders of the ruling Grand Alliance and has been running a racket in collusion with certain unscrupulous BSEB officials for years, leading to exemplary results in the Boards from a college that “does not even hold classes regularly”, according to a former college staff member.
Srestha, who had also failed to define basics in post-result interviews to some news channels, took Friday’s test.
Ruby’s father Awadhesh Rai, a retired Armyman, said, “My daughter cleared Class X with second division. We had never expected her to top the state list. We are upset with the controversy (following her interview) and want BSEB to clarify its position soon.”
BSEB chairman Lalkeshwar Prasad said the written test and interview were meant to know the “mental faculty” of the toppers, and also to check whether their handwriting matches that on the Board exam answer-sheets. “The interview by an experts committee will give us a clear idea whether the students deserve to be toppers. While announcing the results, we had made it clear that these are provisional results.”
State Education Minister Ashok Kumar Choudhary said, “We will clarify our position on this year’s toppers. We are (also) introducing mandatory interview to declare toppers from next year.”
In Friday’s test, the toppers were required to answer a set of 25 questions from all subjects they had written in the Boards. An expert committee of 15 teachers from Patna and Magadh universities will take a final call on the merit list.
A K P Yadav, chairman of the erstwhile Bihar Intermediate Examination Council (now merged with BSEB) recalled that Vaishali’s Vishun College was in the news for wrong reasons six years ago for an unusually high number of examinees from the institute scoring first division in the Boards.
“The issue was (even) raised in Bihar Assembly,” Yadav said. “Eventually we had to use a special provision of deducting 10 per cent marks of each student.”