Officials from the Indian Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) have announced millions of students in multiple cities will have to retake economics and math exams after the papers were leaked online prior to the original exam date, The Times of India reported Mar. 29. Education minister Prakash Javadekar told The Week that papers were stolen and then spread to students through the chat app WhatsApp. According to The Times of India, some students, parents, and teachers are unhappy with the CBSE's decision, saying it will negatively impact students who did nothing wrong.
Javadekar told The Guardian an investigation is underway to determine how the economics and math papers were accessed. "The criminals who did this won't be spared," he said. "I am sure police will catch these people soon. Let me assure that we will further improve the system and make it foolproof." Currently about 25 students and tutors have been questioned by police in Delhi, but no arrests have been made, and special commissioner of police RP Upadhyay told The Guardian that most people police spoke with had received the papers through WhatsApp.
According to The Times of India, students in cities including "Bengaluru, Goa, Guwahati, Chennai and Kolkata to Bhopal and Patna" will be retaking the exams, though the papers were primarily only spread to students in Delhi.
Divya Tomar, a student, told The Times of India the CBSE is "burdening" students. "Conducting retest is not fair," Tomar said. "We worked hard for exam and after performing well in it, we are asked to appear for a retest because of few students."
Prabodh Pandya, who is a member of the Parents' Association, told The Times of India, "It is government’s mistake. Why should students suffer for it. [sic] CBSE and the government should have a full-proof [sic] system as it is held at national level. The government should take strict action and ensure it doesn’t take place again as it de-motivates hard working students."
Rajesh Pillali, principal of the National Public School in Chikkabanavara, said he's concerned the CBSE's decision may have a far-reaching impact. "This is going to be very difficult for students, and will definitely impact their results," he told The Times of India. "Additionally, it might even impact those students who are planning to write entrance tests later."
CBSE chief Anita Karwal told The Times of India the board's decision is meant to benefit students. "We have taken decision in favour of the students [sic]," she explained. "We are working for their good."
According to The Guardian, cheating on exams is common in India, "including paying large bribes to buy test papers." In an effort to curb cheating, the CBSE issued a dress code that made headlines in 2017 after officials allegedly forced a girl to remove her bra to ensure she wasn't trying to cheat, Quartz India reported. The dress code reportedly barred dark-colored clothes, long-sleeved shirts, brooches, badges, closed shoes, and socks.
"When I walked through the metal detector, it beeped," the student, whose name was concealed, told The News Minute. "I told them that it was my bra-strap that had a metal hook on it, but they refused to let me in. They insisted that I remove it. Although I argued with them that the rules does [sic] not mention anything about innerwear, they refused to hear my pleas. Then I went to one side of the room, removed my bra and handed it over to my mother who was standing outside the gate."
A notice from the CBSE informed students that dates for economics and math retakes will be available on its website within the week.