May 14, 2012
A new policy decision by Rajasthan govt on back papers in technical education is a welcome move but will the others follow?
IITs take no cognisance of multiple attempts or back papers.

On February 10 this year, the technical education department of Rajasthan government came out with a landmark decision. Nobody who has cleared any semester/year of B.Tech or M.Tech in more than one attempts will be eligible for teaching positions at any degree-level government technical institution in the state. With this order, Rajasthan has become the only state with a clear cut policy aimed at improving the quality of teaching by taking into account the number of attempts made by candidates during their student years.

Bikaner-based activist Manoj Kamra, who triggered this change by appealing to the Rajasthan government, gathered information using the RTI Act which revealed that majority of faculty in the seven government engineering colleges took more than one attempt to clear their subjects. In fact, an undertaking is also taken from the candidate that he/she has cleared the exams in single attempt. “How can we expect quality teaching from these faculty members who themselves were not good students? Those who clear the exams with multiple attempts have better chances of scoring high marks which is not fair to the students who clear all subjects in one go,” points out Kamra, who is himself a civil engineer by profession.

In his effort to bridge this lacunae, Kamra examined the rules in various professional institutes and found that while many law and medical institutes do take the issue of multiple attempts into account while granting admission for higher education, engineering institutes are lagging in this area.

In fact, even the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) take it lightly while admitting students to post graduate courses. In a reply to the RTI filed by Kamra, IIT, Delhi, informed that no cognisance, in any manner, is taken of the attempts/back papers/ improvements of the applicants, during graduation. IIT, Kanpur, defended that number of attempts of non-GATE candidates is usually decided by the sponsoring agencies. IIT, Kharagpur and IIT, Roorkee, informed there were no rules in this regard.

In contrast, at Chandigarh-based PGIMER, one of the premier medical institutes, anybody who has not cleared the subjects during his/her MBBS/BDS/MD or MS education in single attempt is ineligible for admission for higher medical education at the institute. SC/ST candidates are permitted two attempts in their MBBS/BDS career to get admission in MD/MS/MDS or House Job in Oral Health Sciences. Indian Army Medical Corps also allows only those candidates for short serving commission who pass their final MBBS examination in maximum two attempts. On the other hand, Consortium of Medical, Engineering and Dental Colleges of Karnataka reject the applications for their postgraduate courses if a no-attempt certificate in graduate classes is not furnished.

“Another loophole in technical education is that marksheets of engineering students don't mention that the subject has been cleared through repeat  examination. Lessons can be learnt from institutes like the National Law University, Jodhpur, which marks the grades scored in second attempt as 'R'. This does not apply to students who are unable to appear for the first attempt due to medical reasons,” Kamra informs. His next objective is to get the Rajasthan order replicated in other states as well. “I was planning to file a public interest litigation on the issue but the Rajasthan government took cognisance on a simple letter written by me which is a positive development. I hope other states will also follow suit,” he says.