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Posted at: Apr 17, 2018, 12:04 AM; last updated: Apr 17, 2018, 12:04 AM (IST)

A leaf out of cheat sheet

A leaf out of cheat sheet

Col DS Cheema (Retd)

Every year before March, students and their parents start preparing for oncoming examinations. I recall my days when I was forced by my parents and siblings to concentrate only on studies. Most students of my generation burnt the midnight oil, but there was a miniscule minority for whom preparation meant finding out names of the superintendent of the exam centre and invigilators and develop contacts with them; and writing parchis. 

Temptation to cheat, which is as old as examination itself, is one to which many have fallen. New technologies have thrown up many new options and cheaters of today are smarter and sharper. Some cheats of my generation were very innovative. One I knew used a novel technique to get through an engineering examination.

The Emergency Commission in the Army after the 1962 War, opened floodgates for some who became Emergency Commissioned Officers. Most of them were past 25 years of age and were already earning their livelihood. Only a few were still in college or studying in a professional institution. Though all aspirants had to go through preliminary weaning and two Service Selection Boards, many candidates resorted to cheating and were granted Permanent Commission. 

A particular cheat was over 26 years old when he underwent the mandatory three-year engineering course. He soon realised that the course was too much for his mental faculties. Every student was putting in his best effort on the night before the external examination we all dreaded. But not him. 

A friend and I were studying when the man hurriedly parked his scooter with a screech in front of my room. He was puffing with excitement and bolted the door immediately after entering. For obvious reasons, we wanted to get rid of him as early as possible. He told us in a hushed tone that he had something very important to share with us and he started removing his shirt. We could hardly expect the midnight spectacle. He removed his vest and spread it on the table in front of us. It was smeared with ink all over. He asked us to decipher the smudged impression and construct the questions. Since we knew the subject well, we were able to understand four of eight questions. He asked us to mark the answers of those four questions in the thick book he was carrying. When we asked him how he could get the print of the question paper on his vest, he revealed that he had tied up with the peon whose duty was to get the question paper cyclostyled. He bribed the peon to put the wet paper on his vest and walked out of the basement where the confidential work was being carried out at night.  Needless to say, he passed the tough examination. 

Now, whenever I see the man who is still in harness, I feel ashamed that I could not resist the temptation, took advantage of the situation and was part of the shameful episode. 

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