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Being born in a state which was ruled for 15 years by a Joker and his cronies comes with its own set of disadvantages and hence life for a simple law-abiding non-resident Bihari is not easy in India. You are an economic refugee in your own nation, like a bird snatched from its nest and put in an alien place, in a Trishanku like existence between the need to survive and do well, and the loss of being without a place which you can call home without the fear of being bullied/ driven out someday.
To make things complicated, while you deal with the struggle of day to day, back in a corner of your mind, there is a constant dread that something will happen in Bihar next, which will make the friends and colleagues at your adopted place look at you with a knowledgeable smirk even if they are too polite to make fun of you straightaway. It seems like a lifetime of being defensive about something you never had any control over.
So after the famous (pun intended) videos of the recent Bihar State Intermediate Exams Toppers, the cycle of getting tagged in Facebook and being asked what is there (as if I managed those exams) has started again. I wonder if they are thinking if my 12th marks came in that way as well, even though they were a measly 61%.
Being a candidate of Intermediate Exams from Bihar Intermediate Education Council in 2001, I have a first-hand experience of the corruption that is so prevalent in that crooked state body. What hurts is that, between 2001 and 2016, nothing seems to have changed. Hear me out before you make assumptions about all Bihari students…
I was an Intermediate student (1999-2001) of Patna Science College, the most prestigious college of Patna University which was once called the ‘Oxford of the East’, and is now not even a shadow of its former self. Almost all the students of my batch were quite meritorious (I was rather mediocre in Science) and went on to become IITians, IAS and IPS; however hardly any of this can be alluded to their two years stint in that college. Classes were irregular, goons ruled the campus and made everyone’s life miserable, eve teasing and bullying were rampant; and to top it up, the second year of our course was a total wash out because of a nearly 150 days strike by the teaching and non-teaching staff.
After spending 2 years there, we finally registered for the Intermediate Exams and started the preparations. The first step of the preparations was to buy the passports, exam guides published by shady publications in shady lanes of Ashok Rajpath, which came surprisingly close to the actual questions asked in the exams. Whoever said there are no coincidences has never seen those passports. So basically the idea was to mug them up, puke all that in the answer sheets and then pray for a miracle.
Exams came and went, questions were mediocre and most of those were already there in the passports. To be fair to the local administration, at least in the examination center where we appeared (B.N. College), there was virtually no cheating in the exams; we could not even turn our heads! At the end it all made sense, why bother doing it in the examination center when you could always manage it later? Overall, I was confident of getting decent marks and was only interested in having a party at Maurya Lok (a local shopping center) after the exams got over.
Twist In the Tale
Strange stories started making rounds soon after the exams. We started hearing about the asking rates for good marks; it apparently seemed to be Rs 500.00 per paper for 70% and above and more than this for 80% and above. I know some people who had definite information about this “setting” within the Intermediate Council but partly due to the adolescent idealism and mostly because of getting a thrashing from my parents if I ever asked them about money for this purpose, this whole subject was buried.
The day of the results arrived and we went to the college to check the mark sheets. To my horror, my aggregate marks were just 61%, much below what I had expected. The average marks percentage of Science College was about 67%! You might wonder if this was the case with the students of the best college of Bihar, what happened to the lesser mortals? There is the twist – the toppers came from colleges like Dwarka College and TPS College; ask someone about their reputation in Patna and you will understand that joke was on us!
It will be interesting to note how I got those 61% marks. So it was like, for each subject we had two papers – Paper 1 and Paper 2 except English and Hindi which were of 300 marks in total. There were two colleges where the answer-sheets were sent paper wise for evaluation – CM Science College, Darbhanga and RK College, Madhubani. While for one set of paper, my marks were in 70s for the subjects, for the other set they were 30s.
My parents were as shocked as I was and the only consolation that they got was from the fact that I had secured just 105 marks in English, out of 250. Knowing well that I was reality good in this subject, they could accept that it was not me who messed up the exam and the cosmos was plotting against us.
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