What is Vyapam?
The Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB) is also known by its Hindi Acronym Vypapam.(Vyavsayik Pariksha Mandal) It’s a self-financed and autonomous body incorporated by the state government. It is entrusted with the responsibility to conduct large-scale competitive tests for admission to various professional courses and for recruitment to government jobs.
So, what is this Vyapam scam?
The Vyapam scam is an admission and recruitment scam involving politicians, senior officials and businessmen in Madhya Pradesh. The scam involved a collusion of undeserving candidates, who bribed politicians and MPPEB officials through middlemen, to get high ranks in these entrance tests.
Why are government jobs important enough for there to be a scam about it?
Government jobs are highly cherished in India. The number one reason is the job security that’s synonymous with a government job. It’s near impossible for a government employee to be fired. Read about this case of a govt employee who was fired after 25 years of not showing up at work!
Government employees enjoy other perks like free health care facilities, free or subsidised accommodation, provident fund, pension etc. What is an open secret is that government jobs are often replete with bribes that could turn fortunes around, overnight.
What was the modus operandi of this scammy operation?
According to the whistleblower exposing the scam, the following tricks were used by those involved in the scam.
- Impersonation – The admit card of the candidate was used to execute the trick. All the information of the candidate remained intact except the photograph. Candidate’s photograph was replaced by that of the impersonator and after the exam, it was changed back to the original. All this was done in collusion with the corrupt Board officials. The impersonator was always some brilliant student and used to get hefty amount to secure the seat.
- Engine and bogie system – A person was strategically seated adjacent to the candidate. The person let them copy from his sheet or exchanged the sheet at the end of the exam.
- OMR sheets – The select candidates were asked to leave their answer sheets blank. They were randomly given high percentages after the exam. Concerned authorities of the Board then filed an RTI demanding to view those answer sheets. They then filled in the answers in the OMR booklet according to the marks they have already been given. This was done so that if someone were to ever check those answer sheets, there would not be any loopholes that could give them away.
Since when has this been going on?
Cases of irregularities in these entrance tests had been reported since the mid-1990s, and the first FIR was filed in 2000. However, until 2009, such cases were not thought to be part of an organized ring. When major complaints surfaced in the pre-medical test (PMT) in 2009, the state government established a committee to investigate the matter. The committee released its report in 2011, and over a hundred people were arrested by the police. A Special Task Force (STF) was established in 2012.
The sheer scale of the scam came to light in 2013, when the Indore police arrested 20 people who had come to impersonate candidates for PMT 2009. The interrogation of these people led to the arrest of Jagdish Sagar, the leader of an organized racket involved in the scam. Subsequent interrogations and arrests uncovered the involvement of several politicians, bureaucrats, MPPEB officials, racket leaders, middlemen, candidates and their parents in the scam. By June 2015, more than 2000 people had been arrested in connection with the scam. These included the state’s ex-education minister Laxmikant Sharma and over a hundred other politicians. (wikipedia)
Why is it all over the news only right now?
Even though the probe into the scam has been going on since 2013 and many facts confirming the scam have to come to light and many people already arrested, on June 29th, the SIT (Special Investigating Team For Vyapam) submitted a consolidated report of 23 deaths of accused and witnesses linked to the Vyapam scam, over a period of 5 years. Since July 2015 alone, 4 have died – a journalist, a medical college dean and two cops. Of all the deaths so far, 10 were due to road accidents and six were suicides. Some have died of “alcohol poisoning” and at least two of heart attacks. Since then several activists, politicians and political parties including the major opposition Indian National Congress party has since been demanding for CBI probe on the scam under the supervision of the Supreme Court of India.
There are almost 2,000 accused in the scam, which includes scores of high ranking officials and also politicians in the Madhya Pradesh government. Around 1,900 are reportedly in jail and 500 said to be absconding.
Scams happen in India all the time; Why’s Vyapam so huge?
The 44 year old scam brings to light a serious crime of fraud in professional courses and questions the very integrity of government jobs. Not only is it imperative that only qualified people take up these jobs, but also extremely harmful if these positions are filled up through fraud by unqualifed and undeserving candidates.
On the other hand, the deaths linked to the Scam stand at an alarming count of 36 which is the highest number of human lives lost owing to a scam in India. The scam is not just a horrible blip on the integrity of government jobs but to the very moral and ethical fabric of humanity and reflective of a deprave, almost dangerous institution running in the country.
Who’s Chouhan and why’s he making news?
Shivraj Singh Chouhan is the chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh who has been under fire for being hands in glove with the perpetrators of the scam. Chouhan however has denied any involvement with the scam and claims that he would “renounce the world” if there was a truth in the allegations about his involvement. All this in the face of rising number of the reported mysterious deaths in connection with the scam.
What happens now?
The Supreme Court hearing is scheduled for July, 9th where it will consider 4 pleas including the one for CBI probe into the scam. The conclusive evidence on the scam will decide the fate of the accused and justice for the victims.