As a method of preventing cheating, forcing job candidates to take an exam in their underwear is pretty extreme - but that’s exactly what the Indian Army did in the eastern state of Bihar. More than 1,000 young men, who had applied for at least 70 clerical and technical jobs positions in the armed forces, were made to sit cross-legged, in their briefs for the one-hour test taken outdoors in Muzaffarpur city on Feb. 28, according to television footage and a lawyer familiar with the matter. The written examination was for candidates who had cleared their physical tests.
The incident has drawn criticism from the high court in the region that has sought an explanation from India’s Defense Ministry, after a lawyer filed a petition against the army in the Patna High Court on March 1. “The decision to ask candidates to appear for the exams without a shirt, trouser or vest is simply bizarre,” lawyer Dinu Kumar, who filed the petition said Thursday. “Those who showed reluctance to remove their clothes were asked to leave. It was insulting,” he added.
The Patna High Court has asked the ministry to respond by April 5, Mr. Kumar said. Col. V.S. Godhra, director of the Army Regional Office in Muzaffarpur said candidates were asked to write in their underwear as a preventive measure to stop them hiding any material inside clothes or under desks or chairs that could help them in the exam.
“We did not insult anybody or subjected anyone to cruelty. No examinee complained, so why outsiders are making a hue and cry over the matter,” Col. Godhra was quoted as saying by national news agency, the Press Trust of India. When contacted by The Wall Street Journal, he refused to comment on the matter.
The Indian Army said it has taken “serious note” of the incident. “The Army headquarters has directed corrective measures for ensuring fairness (in examinations) without causing embarrassment to candidates,” it said in a statement.
Bihar, one of India’s most populous and impoverished states, has made the news for mass-cheating incidents in the past. In one scandal last year, parents and friends of students writing an examination were seen climbing walls of a multi-story school building in Hajipur, one of Bihar’s biggest cities, to pass notes and information to them.
In an effort to foil cheating, the Bihar government in January announced strict measures including a fine of up to $330 for students and jail terms for those caught helping them.
Culled from The Wall Street Journal