In the Cycle of Scams

KO photo by Abid Bhat

STUDENTS are aghast as the J&K administration has recently tendered a contract to a tainted firm called Aptech. Recently, the administration announced that they will hold fresh exams. However, the contract to conduct these exams was given to M/S Aptech Limited, a controversial agency that’s blacklisted by Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Assam. The Delhi High Court has even imposed a penalty of 10 lakh on Aptech for alleged malpractices in recruitments. In December, Jammu and Kashmir High Court strongly indicted the J & K administration for allotting a contract to a tainted agency. The court had said that the decision to award the contract to M/s Aptech Limited, a blacklisted agency, is malafide and change of condition in tender was intended to favour the private agency.

The agency has a bad reputation and a shadowy past.

In 2016, Aptech Limited allegedly found itself involved in Uttar Pradesh Jal Nigam recruitment scam. In fact, mass irregularities and malpractices were found in the agency’s recruitment process as 1,188 appointments were cancelled out of 1,300 posts in 2020 following an investigation by Uttar Pradesh’s Special Task Force (STF). In 2017, Aptech was the hiring agency of Rajasthan Police constable recruitment in which irregularities were found. Later, in 2018 FIR was filed and examination was cancelled. In 2018, UP Power Corporation Limited (UPPCL) hired Aptech for examination. After irregularities via system monitoring and various other modes were reported by STF, examination was scrapped and Aptech was blacklisted for a period of three years from May 2019 to May2022. In 2018, the examination of Delhi University LLB course conducted by Aptech was also cancelled due to leak of examination papers. Delhi High Court fined Aptech Limited with Rs 10,00,000.In 2020, Assam irrigation department examination was conducted by Aptech Limited. Here again irregularities were found. Central Teacher Eligibility Test was also conducted by Aptech. The paper was leaked and irregularities came up in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Special Task Force also arrested one person in the case. The paper for the examination was later rescheduled.

            If these facts were already in the public domain, and indeed it is out of consideration that the administration must not have been aware of these misgivings of the Aptech Limited, one is left thinking as to what prompted our administration to tender the contract to the company of such disrepute. Incidents like these do not have a singular impact, confined in time, they distort and destroy the image of local recruiting agencies forever.

They not only demoralise the aspirants but have repercussions on the image of authorities, institutions and states – recall Bihar being famous for corruption. It’s likely that Kashmir too will become famous for examination scams. In fact, we already have a legacy of scams in place. One is immediately reminded of scams like BOPEE entrance scam and the recent FAA recruitment exam scandal among others.

These episodes have a detrimental impact on the aspirations and dreams of aspiring youth. The halo of suspicion that is now surrounding these exams and the conducting agencies has multiplied the anxieties and worries of the aspirants, making them doubt their own capacities and  to feel uneasy even after the best of the efforts and preparation given the kind of dubiousness of the entire recruitment process.

While students from other states worry about cracking exams, students in J&K are insecure about the honesty of examinations themselves.

The concerned must ask themselves as to why they have normalised this cycle of despair for students here? What would it take for concerned institutions to respect the sanctity of hard work? When will these authorities and institutions work with the spirit of honesty towards making employability realisable for the deserving? This culture which students are subjected to needs to be checked. We need to encourage a conducive, representative and inclusive access to opportunities. However, all that students are getting are: ill-prepared timelines, scams, corruption, nepotism, compromised exam cycles and corrupted results. The authorities must develop a moment of compunction , must realise that what is at stake goes beyond a single exam or a single post but the entire future of the nation under the threat of being jeopardized by  people of incompetence, lack of merit, men of fraudulent and fallible credentials.

  • Views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial stance of Kashmir Observer 

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Amir Suhail Wani

The author is a writer and columnist

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