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Confessions of a chronic cheater.....

Two things before you read on:

- The events depicted in this blog are fictitious. Any similarity to any person living or dead is merely coincidental.

- "The mind of man can imagine nothing which has not really existed." --Edgar Allan Poe


A few weeks ago, the final year students of my college finally got their official farewell. It was a day to remember. The whole batch came together and did something that felt magical. We now knew why every batch looked forward to giving their seniors a farewell. It gave us all a chance to put aside our differences and actually do something together. Everybody wanted to and had a role to play.


During a short break after performing a short skit, I wondered where all these people would be in a few years or decades. Some had told me they would joining the civil service, a few wanted to join litigation and most of the remaining would join firms which specialized in corporate, IPR or tax. Suddenly one of my seniors joked that he dedicated his success to his ability to cheat. Everybody laughed and cheered. It was then that I remembered what a senior, who had graduated a few years ago, told me about cheating.


Anna (as I fondly called him), always stood first throughout his academic life. Being from a family where parents were academicians, his priority was always to do well. So when he came to law school it wasn’t surprising that he was able to maintain a GPA of above 9 throughout his 5 years here. However, he never got the gold medal he was aiming for. Another student beat him by a few marks. I could see him struggle inside when his name was not called out during his graduation ceremony. He smiled but his eyes said something else.


The student who got the gold medal cheated. He was intelligent, hardworking, smart and charming. His charming ways had found him many friends who would help whenever he needed it. Legend had it that even if you put him in a room where the only two souls were the teacher and him, he would still find a way to cheat. He was so used to cheating that even if he worked hard he still needed to cheat. Whenever his memory failed, all he had to go was look at someone else’s paper or his phone. One time he was sitting in a mirrored- room and was able to ask his friend for an answer using his eyes and hands.


My University unfortunately condones cheating. While there is a 100-word policy that cheating will lead to disciplinary action, it is used occasionally. There are no available guidelines for a teacher on how to tackle cheating, his/her powers and finally the penalty for condoning cheating. Sometimes students get caught but the worst punishment has been to award them a ‘0’ and then allow them to re-write the test. The defence is predictable. The low CGPA students promise that it will never happen again and the high CGPA students state that it was a one-time offence and that their CGPA proves that they word hard. And like I mentioned, the ‘punishment’ is also predictable.


It’s fairly easy to cheat when it is institutionalized. In fact, I do not know how I would have a 8+ CGPA without cheating. I’m not as skilful as the legendary G (not his real legendary pet name) but I’m good enough. I’ve mastered copying notes and documents to my slim Samsung.  The only time I did get caught, I used a software that allows one to erase all data on a phone through the internet. When I entered the room of the examination head, all I had to do was show them that there were no notes on my phone. I have friends who will show me their paper if I forget anything. Sometimes we even make sure we have written everything possible off each other. We make sure we sit together and if the course if too big, we just divide it equally.


I honestly don’t feel I deserve to be blamed for this. The teachers keep looking outside the window. Sometimes they walk around just to smile at us. The one who try to be strict miserably fail. When there is a vigilant teacher, all I have to do is sneeze. One of friends on the opposite side will come up with an excuse giving all of us on this side enough time to figure things out. And finally, teachers don’t have the intellectual capability to understand answers which aren’t copied from their notes or the book. The few times I wrote answers on my own, I wasn’t given the marks I expected and promised never to be creative again.


Coming back to the story of Anna. He tried hard to stop the cheating and failed miserably. He talked to teachers and the Vice-Chancellor. Everybody promised him action but nothing changed. By the time he graduated, he was tired of trying. He told me that his parents told him to ignore such things. He had to work harder and the world outside would be even worse. Work hard he did but he was never able to beat legendary G. He even walked out once when a teacher just kept ignoring all the chatter during the test. He became unpopular over the years. Rumour has it that he once went to the Registrar with a list of teachers who allowed students to cheat. The list got out and he was never able to be a part of any committee ever again. The teachers he had complained against were very senior and powerful. Their way of ‘retribution’ was to use their position to punish him in their own little way. Luckily, he was already in his 4th year by then.


We live in a system which gives us conflicting perspectives. While we’re told not to cheat, nothing is done when we cheat. I can only imagine how tough it must be for people who don’t. One of my friends commented on a story of lawyer who had tried to bribe a witness. He couldn’t understand why people felt so disturbed by his actions. We all break rules. Society here was being a hypocrite.


Sometimes I try not to cheat when I think of Anna. I know that someone honest loses out every time I cheat. However, this is something they will have to deal with until my University actively discourages cheating. It isn’t our fault. The University wants us to do well and get marks. Without a CGPA of 8, most of us won’t get placed and no one wants to be responsible for that kind of a failure. I don’t feel guilty about what I do but I do get scared wondering if I’ve lost my moral compass. If I can break the rules today, what will stop me from breaking them tomorrow?

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Confessions of a chronic cheater.....

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