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Copybook CM - The Pioneer

Editorial ()
17 November 1997

Title: Copybook CM
Author: Editorial
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: November 17, 1997

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Kalyan Singh's decision to enact an Anti-copying Act and enforce it before the next annual examinations in the State will be welcomed by a sizeable section of public opinion which had watched with dismay the dismantling of a similar effort during his last tenure by Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav. This despite the fact that the decision is bound to recall a few ghosts from the not-too-distant past. Mr Kalyan Singh's 1992 Ordinance had come under fire for the draconian methods employed
y the authorities to implement it, which resulted in many impressionable teenagers being put behind bars. Moreover, sceptics dismissed the law as a myopic attempt to reform a systemic W by punishing the guilty instead of exorcising the system of the evil itself. It was also seen to infringe basic constitutional rights with students paraded in handcuffs in violation of juvenile justice rules. While the then UP Education Minister and architect of the Ordinance, Mr Rajnath Singh, (currently State BJP chief)
ustified the law as a tough solution to a tough problem, the punishment was sometimes disproportionate to the misdemeanour. Mr Kalyan Singh's effort ran into rough weather with reported incidents of suicides by students causing his Government a fair degree of embarrassment. This provided Mr Yadav a plank to come to power in the next Assembly elections.. he kept his promise of repealing the Ordinance within 20 minutes of assuming office. The wrath of the affected section was strong enough to ensure the def
at of Mr Rajnath Singh himself in the elections. The effect of the Ordinance's repeal was predictable. Cheating resumed with unprecedented vigour. The few who tried to stand against the tide were demoralised by the de facto official patronage extended to cheaters.

Mr Kalyan Singh must be complimented for not being deflected from his purpose despite the fact that the Ordinance became an electoral liability in 1993. Armed with hindsight, the UP Chief Minister needs to initiate genuine reform this time. There must be no liberty granted to indulge in what is indeed morally and ethically repugnant. With the BJP having one of the frontrunners against the law in 1992 within its fold today, it is to be hoped that the issue will remain outside the arena of petty politickin
. As for those who jumped on to the populist bandwagon to argue that the Ordinance was a step towards pushing young minds into criminality, it is time to consider whether cheating, and not the penalty for it, is not the first step towards moral degeneration.

The Anti-copying Act must be implemented firmly, but with finesse. The penalty for cheating must not manifest itself in prison terms lest the matter become contentious once again and lose sight of the long-term benefits. Following Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, where similar ordinances were passed in 1982 and 1984, UP made a brave attempt in 1992. Once it is successfully implemented in UP, more states, especially in cheating-infested North India, would be well advised to follow suit. Mr Kalyan Singh des
rves full support from all right-thinking people across the country in the attempt to combat the scourge of copying which has made a mockery of our examination system.

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