The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) held on Sunday has courted controversy of an unseemly kind. It began with an invigilator asking a student in Kannur to remove her bra before writing the exam. Soon, more parents came out with similar allegations—one student was forced to remove the metal button on her pants, some were asked to lift their dress, while others had to tear off a part of their dress. A few hapless students were even forced to frantically scamper at the last minute to find ‘suitable’ clothes on a Sunday, with the parents pleading with shopowners to raise the shutters.
The tough anti-cheating dress code by the CBSE is understandable. The past years have seen NEET examinations getting embroiled in controversies over attempted question paper leaks. Over 11 lakh MBBS and BDS aspirants appeared for the NEET exams at over 1,900 centres across the country. In an era where bluetooth and wrist watches are used to cheat in the exams, the CBSE has some curious anti-cheating rules for the NEET. Head scarves are a strict no-no, so are full sleeves, nose-pins and earrings.
But how does one explain the fact that only one or two schools saw bizarre issues involving clothes worn mostly by girls when almost all the jeans, trousers, and of course, bras have metal zips and hooks. A day after the Kerala State Human Rights Commission ordered a probe, the school—TISK English Medium School, Kovvapuram, Kannur— suspended four women teachers for forcing the students to remove their innerwear. On Tuesday, the CBSE distanced itself from the Kannur episode.
It advised the school principal to tender an unconditional apology to the candidate, even though an official affirmation that the agony caused to the candidate is deeply regretted by the CBSE, won't be a true salve to the wounded self-esteem of a young girl. Rules are fine as long as those who interpret them use common sense and discretion.