Wondering about the bizarre connection between writing an entrance examination and innerwear? Ask the authorities in Kannur, Kerala and they will have you know that there is a definite link! As responsible educators in this country, they have rigorous steps in place to prevent cheating during examinations – and one of the most ‘effective’ ones is to force the women aspirants to remove their bra/innerwear on top and then sit for the examinations.
There are some generic dress-code guidelines that the Board has shared on what items of clothing are banned. The guidelines do not include the fact that a person should be coming for the examination without innerwear or define the type of innerwear that should be worn. Perhaps they thought that was not within the purview of their role as an examination body? Strangely, the teachers at the centre in Kannur, thought it well within their purview to not only create their own definition, but find ways to implement it!
The metal hook of the bra caused the detector to beep in one case – this happens even at airports. And there it has the chance of becoming a potential security hazard. But merely to impose a misdirected sense of authority, does it make sense to publicly humiliate candidates by asking them to remove it, before being allowed for the exam? And that too in a location since there are no toilet facilities in the examination centre. The invigilators are accountable for preventing any unfair means being used to write the examinations. Instead of focusing on that part and working towards ensuring that is done well, the authorities felt that this was a ‘fool-proof’way of preventing examination irregularities.
It is strange to see that the authorities which are so concerned about ensuring that examinations are conducted in a fair manner, do not have an iota of concern for the comfort of the students. Physical frisking, cutting long sleeves and other parts of clothing, imposing dress code rules that are irrelevant – it seems to reek of a deep-seated misplaced sense of disciplining and imposing authority, especially because it involved women candidates only. Were any men asked to remove innerwear?
In the past, there has been news of several such acts of disciplining by college and school authorities, where they tell the female students what they should be wearing while coming for classes. Often these have no basis or logical reasoning except for being a manifestation of the whim or personal bias of the teachers or principals involved. The Kannur NEET incident is likely to be the same.
CBSE has condemned it and taken action by suspending the teachers involved, but one wonders at the mindset. If the educators in the country believe this to be the approach in preventing issues like cheating during an examination, what kind of messages are they sending out to those they teach? If the desire to discipline girls is so deep-seated that it crosses boundaries of decent or civil behavior, one wonders at the kind of individuals who are in the roles of teachers ?
Simran Oberoi is an independent HR Consultant in Bangalore, with HR Advisory, Knowledge Development and Research expertise of over 13 years, in Rewards & Compensation, Diversity & Inclusion, Talent Development, HR & Social Media. She has worked with consulting firms like Hay Group, Aon Hewitt and PricewaterhouseCoopers in the past, in India as well as Asia-Pacific leadership roles. Simran is also a keen baker – you can find her recipes at https://ovenderfulhealthybaking.wordpress.com/