Bihar ‘topper’ arrest wrong, blame parents and officials: Union Minister

Bihar board ‘topper’ Ruby Rai’s arrest wasn’t correct and the Nitish Kumar-led government should be blamed for the large-scale irregularities in the state Class 12 examinations, Union minister Upendra Kushwaha said on Sunday. Rai grabbed national headlines last month by claiming she was taught cooking in her political science classes and managed to only write a single sentence in her re-test that was ordered after the board cancelled the results of several toppers.
Kushwaha – the minister of state for human resource development – said the real culprits in the cheating and education corruption cases were the parents and officials who ran the racket. “The students named in the merit list scam are innocent and no punitive action should be taken against them,” he said.
The minister also alleged that the scam in the merit list and the illegal affiliations given to colleges were a result of political patronage. “The government should make public the names of bigwigs who had patronised the accused in the scam,” he said. The comments came a day after Rai astonished examiners and the general public after she only wrote a single line – “Tulsidas ji, pranam” – when asked to write an essay on the poet in her re-test. She claimed she had forgotten what she studied. The lid was blown off the merit list scam last month after television interviews of several toppers revealed they had little knowledge of the subjects they had supposedly aced. Authorities also cancelled the affiliation of VR College where Rai studied. The controversy is a major embarrassment for the Bihar government and puts the spotlight on Bihar’s failing education system riddled with spurious colleges and examination rackets. Activists say colleges fix exam and evaluation centres and even hand out “tailor-made” answer books that ensure high scores. So far, police have arrested several persons including the former Bihar State Education Board chairman Lalkeshwar Prasad Singh, his wife and former MLA, Usha Sinha, and Bachcha Roy, the principal of VR College (Vaishali), the alleged epicentre of the scam.
Arrests warrants have been issued against several BSEB employees found involved in the scam. In the last few days, the opposition BJP has upped the ante against the state government with senior leader Sushil Kumar Modi saying Bihar’s education system had fallen into disrepute due to the scam and meritorious students were facing humiliation outside Bihar.
“Such a scam would not have occurred had the CM shown a zero tolerance policy on the poor quality of education in the state,” he said.

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