Newspapers across India have reported, with photographs, that candidates appearing at a written recruitment test at Muzaffarnagar, Bihar, were asked to strip down to their under-wears to prevent cheating. The Patna High Court has reportedly directed the union Defence Secretary for an explanation.
The news reports quote one Colonel Godra, Director (Recruitment) as saying that the candidates were asked to remove their clothes as a “preventive measure against cheating”. He felt that this was not an insult to the aspirants. He wondered as to why “outsiders” were making an issue out of the incident when none of the candidates complained over the matter.
To my mind, the above argument of the Colonel is highly irresponsible, to say the least. Asking someone to come to a written test in one’s under-wear is nothing short of an assault on one’s dignity as a human being. If it were a test of the candidates’ physical ability then naturally they would have to be dressed appropriately. When I went for my medical test for a Central Government job – those days this was to be got done at the Fort William, Kolkata for those hailing from that city – I had to stand naked in front of the Army Doctor. There was no ignominy in that because it was a medical test and the doctor wanted to do a thorough job. In the present case, however, there absolutely was no reason to ask the candidates to strip down.
The other related point that I want to make here is that in India everyone is treated as a cheat. The language of the various forms that we have to fill in, the questions that are asked on different occasions, asking a candidate to get his documents attested “by a magistrate” or a “gazetted officer” – indicate the authorities’ underlying distrust of the applicants/candidates. It is a fact that some people try to subvert the system. That also is mostly because our system does not allow an honest person to get his work done in a proper and straightforward manner. A visit to any licensing authority’s office will prove this. That, however, must not lead anyone to think that every other person is a cheat. By all means punish the guilty but please don’t make everyone feel like a criminal.
In this particular case, the least that the Ministry of Defence owes to the candidates is a sincere apology. The Colonel who was in charge of the recruitment test perhaps deserve a lecture on the need to be humane when dealing with human beings.