Dear Modi Ji, What do I Tell My ‘Exam Warrior’ Daughter Today?

The exam warriors have suddenly turned into exam worriers.

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Students protest over CBSE Class X Mathematics and Class XII Economics paper leak, at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi.
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Dear Modi Ji, What do I Tell My ‘Exam Warrior’ Daughter Today?

The last exam for CBSE Class 10 students was on Wednesday (or so we thought), and we had planned a lunch to celebrate the end of an anxious academic year. This was my daughter Supriya and her cousin Catherine’s first public exam.

At around 1:30 pm, jubilant kids laughed and discussed the question paper outside the exam centre. The roads were full of parents picking up their kids enjoying this fresh gasp of freedom.

The girls were happy. They had to be, because they always joked that theirs was the guinea pig class— in 2010 Class 10 exams were made optional by the CBSE but this year the Modi government made it compulsory, before deciding to halve the syllabus from next year.

We entered a restaurant in a mall which was bustling with happy Class 10 students and parents. It was like attending a huge party. We settled in and ordered our appetisers and drinks, the relief of finishing the exams, especially the Maths paper, was visible on the kids’ tired but relaxed faces.

The discussions turned to the stories and photos they were going to upload on Instagram, and the much awaited vacations. My sister-in-law and I, meanwhile, talked about their plans to move to a new city next week. My brother-in-law, an Army engineer, was relieved from his Jammu & Kashmir station a few hours earlier, and was reaching Delhi on Friday. The family had booked a transport truck for moving their household items, and also had paid for four flight tickets for 5 April.

Halfway into the appetisers, at 3:26 pm, I received a WhatsApp forward of the CBSE circular from my husband that said that the Mathematics paper had been leaked and the exam would be re-conducted.

I broke the news to the girls, who were shell-shocked. “What!,” my daughter exclaimed as my niece started crying, “Why should I give the exam again for the stupidity of some people!,” she ranted.

Within seconds, like a game of Chinese whispers, the boy on the next table exclaimed, ‘What!’ As his friends looked at their phones they were all taken aback. A girl said, “How is this even possible!?”. I felt like reaching out to them and giving them all a hug.

We consoled my niece who was very angry. My sister-in-law would now have to reschedule their tickets.

In a few minutes the four kids on the next table asked for the bill and left, our appetisers had also gone cold. The celebratory mood had suddenly vanished. Meanwhile, our phones were flooded with messages from our family members who were concerned and their classmates who were seething with anger, most of them said that the retest wasn’t a fair decision.

Sitting there, I didn’t feel an exact sense of surprise, as I mulled over the cancellation. We have become a country where every other exam paper is on sale in the black market – be it national entrance exams for medicine or a government test to become a clerk.

The criminals who leak them are flourishing only because many of us are willing to pay to secure good marks or a job.

The girls even questioned whether next time the paper would be secure. The exam warriors had suddenly turned into exam worriers. This is their first brush with reality.

Dear Modi ji, could you please tell me what I should be telling my daughter today because your book Exam Warrior does not have a chapter on how to tackle this situation. An entire generation is waiting for your response.

(Priya Solomon is a Delhi-based journalist, co-founder of Malayalam portal azhimukham.com and a concerned parent. This is a personal blog and the views expressed here are the author's own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)

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