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Monday, June 3, 2013

JEE 2013: ID Proofs

IITs sent 3-4 representatives to each center to oversee the conduct of the JEE Advanced exam. I was also told to go to one such center.

One of the activities of the IIT representatives is to check the identity of each candidate giving the exam. I did that too. Checked about 120 students in the morning exam, and a different set of 120 students in the afternoon exam. Besides noticing the similarity of their face with the photo that they had provided, we also checked the signatures, and for the first time, the students were asked to bring in an additional ID proof.

About 10 percent students did not bring any. They had to be allowed to give the exam. Then why check the remaining 90 percent. There were many who brought ID cards whose validity date had passed a year or even two years ago. There were many who had brought in school ID cards (which was allowed) but there was no way to verify whether the schools were genuine and the ID cards were genuine.

But most interestingly, there were many who had what I would call a fake ID. Yes, several students had Voter ID cards which would put their age at anything between 19 and 23 years, while the date of birth that they have filled in the JEE forms would mostly put them at 17 or 18 years. Besides, the names on the voter ID card would have different spellings, would either have additional middle name, or sometimes would not have last name.

It shows on one hand that one can not trust the Voters' list, and on the other hand, how the young generation is getting corrupted at a very early age. Someone who can get a fake ID because he does not want to wait till 18 years of age to vote, would he not copy in the exam, if even a small window of opportunity is noticed by him. (I am using masculine gender, since all such cases were of male students.)

One hopes that these students would have written some fake answers, get negative marks, and won't be in the merit list.

Also, when a student does perform poorly at IIT, one has to wonder if the student came to IIT fairly.


Saurabh Joshi said...

Dear Sir,
I only partially agree with your views here. Maybe some of the IDs were indeed fake. But the data in the voter's list being messed up is also not new. Even after correctly filling out all the details, my voter ID shows me 5 years younger. There were numerous typographical errors in name/address when I first applied for my passport. It is only after I proved that I put the correct data in the application form, they rectified the details without any penalty.

Besides, how many schools issue ID cards to their students? and as you have pointed out, there is no way to authenticate those ID either. Spelling mistakes in name/ middle name is very common. In fact the order in which last name/ first name/ middle name appears in different IDs I have possessed have been different. The reason is that different people, system make some assumptions about the way people have (should have) names. Here is an interesting read on something similar :

It is much wise to give benefit of doubt to a student rather than punishing a genuine student because election commission, ministry of external affairs, income tax department or any other ID issuing authority has messed up. After all, isn't it the motto (in theory at least) of Indian judicial system to let 100 culprits walk free but no innocent person should be punished wrongly?

Dheeraj Sanghi said...

@Saurabh, Just to let you know, I asked each student whether the year of birth written on the Voters' ID card was as given by them, and they agreed.

By the way, the jurisprudence is NOT based on what you say, that is, let 100 culprits walk free but no innocent person should be punished. That is too idealistic and if followed would lead to total chaos in the society. The jurisprudence is based on proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Beyond a reasonable doubt is different from 100%. But I am digressing.

I am not suggesting any punishment, rather I am saying that JEE should not have asked for an ID proof.

Chandresh said...

Can't IITs design and implement a simple, foolproof, transparent and 'not-in-your-face' background process.

For example, supervisors can take digital photographs and thumb impressions of all candidates when they are writing JEE. A hundred percent verification of successful candidates credentials can be done after admission process at the time students report to respective institute or staggered over the first semester.

Possibly this 100 % verification can be done by an automated digital library shared across the participating institutes.

Basically, cost effective and non intrusive verification systems can be implemented.

Meera said...

Apart from a passport, I do not know what can a 17 year old produce as a valid ID proof which has a photograph and signature. The Aadhaar might have to try to sort out that issue too.