BHOPAL : The students from the state have performed exceptionally well in entrance tests for premier engineering institutes like Indian Institutes of Technology IITs and medical colleges like the All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

The multi-crore Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB) fraud had defamed Madhya Pradesh at the national level with scores of politicians, officers and MBBS students, in addition to middlemen, cooling their heel behind bars. Former Minister for Higher and Technical Education Laxmikant Sharma is in prison for more than one year now for his role in the mega scam. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan had informed the Vidhan Sabha that 1,47,000 appointments were made in various departments through Vyapam since 2007, out of which only around 1000 appointments were made in a wrongful manner. Chauhan even said all appointments made since 2006 through Vyapam were being scrutinised and it was not fair to say that all candidates who were selected were suspect.

Under such circumstances, the best-ever performance of students from the state in IIT and AIIMS entrance exams has not only added an extra shine to the image of the state but has also proved that talent has nothing to do with corruption and scams.

In the recent past, Madhya Pradesh was in the news when the “Bachpan Bachao Andolan” activist Kailash Satyarthi won the Nobel Peace Prize along with Pakistan’s Malala Yousafzai. Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan had termed it a ‘matter of pride’ not just for Madhya Pradesh but for the entire country. Satyarthi hails from Vidisha, a constituency represented by the CM for five successive terms in the Lok Sabha from 1991-2004.

In IIT-2015, Satvat Jagwani of Satna topped in the country while Janak Agrawal and Mukesh Pareek of Indore captured second and third ranks respectively.

Similarly, Varad Puntambekar of Bhopal secured 15th All India rank in AIIMS Entrance Examination. Eleven candidates from the capital figured in the merit list. Mohammed Mustafa Nawaz secured 83rd AIR while Nikhil Agrawal bagged 264th position. Amartya Agrawal secured 426th position while Kritika Upadhyay got 1015th rank, Dakshaja Vaidya 1066th, Yogshri Chaubey 1213th, Swanzil Chaudhary 1300th, Lucky Patidar 1583th Akanksha Yadav 2135th and Kunal Patel got 4870th.

The Vyapam scam is believed to be biggest-ever scam in field of education in the country as not only unaccountable money is involved but it also spoiled the future of many eligible youths of the state. Besides, high-profile personalities, including those occupying constitutional positions were found to be involved in it. The Vyapam scam had demoralised the students and they had given up hopes of succeeding on the basis of merit.

But the best-ever performance in prestigious tests is definitely an eye-opener and a shot in the arm for the students who are dreaming of becoming doctors, engineers and CAs. The Special Task Force has already registered 55 FIRs and investigations are on into the remaining 28 cases.

The STF has so far arrested 1,700 people in connection with the scam and is likely to arrest 700 more. The STF filed an FIR against Madhya Pradesh Governor Ram Naresh Yadav, for allegedly taking money from candidates seeking appointments as Forest Guards in 2013. Vyapam holds exams for recruitment on non-gazetted positions like constables, teachers, forest guards and auditors for government departments. Candidates allegedly bribed government officials to make it to the list of those who cleared the test, without taking the exam.

Besides, Madhya Pradesh has already earned the dubious distinction of having the lowest learning levels not just in the country but even among BIMARU states like Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh. Even neighbouring Chhattisgarh, which is tribal-dominated and Naxal-infested, fares better.

As per Annual status of Education Report (ASER) of NGO “Pratham”, barely 38% students of classes III-V can read a class I text while a measly 22.3% of them can do basic subtraction. The state lags far behind the national average where 54.8% class III-V students can read class I text and 39.7% can do basic arithmetic. This was also a big dip from the 2012 statistics when the reading level of students of class III-V was 39.3% while 23.1% of them could do basic subtraction.

This figure slides further when it comes to class V students’ reading and arithmetic levels. Compared to all-India average, arithmetic proficiency levels are also low – about 11% points below the national average. Barely 31.9% class V students can read class II level text compared to the national average of 47%.

Also, only 14.2% students can do basic mathematics like division, which is far behind the national average of 25.6.

Professor Manish Jogarkar, Assistant Registrar, School of Planning of Architecture, Bhauri, said, “Vyapam scam definitely made a dent in the reputation and image of Madhya Pradesh. It also demoralised the students, who were dreaming of becoming doctors and engineers. But IIT and AIIMS results have improved the image of the state a lot at national level. It proves that scams and corruption cannot stop talented students from succeeding. Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are also known for scams but students from these states do crack UPSC exams.”

Tripti Agrawal, who runs a coaching centre, said, “It is the best-ever performance of Madhya Pradesh students in national-level competitions. It proves that the students of Madhya Pradesh, which is believed to be a backward state, can excel, provided they work hard in a planned manner”.

MANIT professor Dr Sidharth Rakode said, “It is true that in higher education, students from the state have performed exceptionally well at the national level this time and it is a shot in the arm for the students who are at the school level and want to crack national-level competitions. The scams and corruption naturally demoralise the students and are a blot on the education system of the state.

The mass copying case of Bihar was shocking not only for the state but for the entire education system. Society should strive to ensure that such scams and corruption do not take place. IIT and AIIMS entrance results have generated hope in the state. Even in MANIT, state students perform better in comparison with students from other states. We also observe in MANIT that there is no dearth of talent in the state.”

Professor Dr AK Rawat, Agriculture University Jabalpur, said, “There is no dearth of talent in Madhya Pradesh. Corruption cannot overshadow the talent as students from small towns have proved by entering IITs and AIIMS. The results of the IIT and AIIMS entrance exams are really a shot in the arm for those who are at school level and nurturing dreams to shape their careers in medicine and engineering. We do not have the moral right to comment on the scam as corruption is prevailing in the education system.

We can only impart best education to the students who can compete in various national level competitions. Our job is to impart quality education and students have to prove themselves and excel without wasting energy on thinking about scams and corruption. Definitely their hard work pays dividends and this happened.”

Gandhi Medical College (GMC) Professor Dr Jeevanlal Meena said, “It is a matter of pride for all of us that Madhya Pradesh student topped in IIT entrance. Definitely, Vyapam scam had earned a dubious distinction for the state and we were not in a position to comment in talk shows on TV channels regarding educational standards in the state but now IIT and AIIMS results have changed the scenario.”

Junior Doctors Association president Dr Adarsh Vajpayee said, “Government should felicitate such talented students to boost the morale of others. There is no dearth of talent in Madhya Pradesh. GMC MBBS student Dr Kaku Singh Bhatia has topped in CMC Vellore in cardiology.”

In higher education, Madhya Pradesh students always perform better in comparison to students of the other states. It is a different thing that scams and corruption have damaged the entire country, particularly the education system, but talent shows and pays dividends, the JUDA chief said, adding, “The excellent performance of students from the state in IIT and AIIMS entrance has boosted the morale of the students.

Otherwise, in Gandhi Medical College, all the students are seen through the Vyapam glass. We cannot put up a bold face in society. But results like IIT and AIIMS are really a shot in the arm for us.”