Chasing Anamika – and the education scandals of Uttar Pradesh

The latest from Uttar Pradesh is one up on the Ruby Rai scandal of Bihar. She was the state’s class XII arts topper in 2016 who when asked to explain her subject, said she’d been learning a prodigal science that deals with cooking. She couldn’t even name her subject right, but in a region oft in the news for mass cheating, her family had managed to anoint her a topper until she got exposed. Now it is Dharmendra Patel who has made news for allegedly not knowing who is the President of India. But Dharmendra is not a school topper like Ruby. He has actually topped the UP assistant teachers’ recruitment exam.

Prayagraj police has made several arrests for corruption in the recruitment drive for 69,000 posts in the UP Basic Education Department. The Yogi Adityanath government has also ordered an STF probe into the matter even as Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi has said this is no less than UP’s Vyapam scam. Adding a peculiar twist to the scandal is Anamika Shukla, who is not one but many. First it appeared that this woman has withdrawn salaries from different schools across the state, which was shocking enough. But now it appears that although the same set of documents were used at the different schools, the real culprit may be someone else altogether. It is bad enough when teachers don’t turn up to teach in government schools, but that they don’t even exist in the first place is taking corruption to new levels.

Such venality hurts meritocracy at the core and hurts the future of the country. Teachers who have got their jobs by paying bribes rather than by studying, what knowledge will they be able to pass on to students? UP government must probe and punish such corruption forcefully for another reason. It’s a culture problem. When such pestilence thrives in one field, it invades others soon enough. Going forward, as a lot of state resources are devoted for mitigating the economic hardships of poor citizens, it is critical that they are not diverted to fat cat alleys of fraud.

Also read: FIR lodged against ‘Anamika’ in 5 districts

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