Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, February 19, 2004






An in-depth analysis

Researcher: Preetha

A scrupulous preamble:
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a good many human beings, if left to their own conscience, tend to execute debauched and dishonest acts for the betterment of their own selves, conveniently forgetting or rather, shrewdly disregarding, in the dissipated route towards success, their vows of ethics and morals. Students, being very much a part of the human race, are no exception. Consequently, being the nation builders of tomorrow, they (some of them, at any rate) waste no time in following in the footsteps of their revered ministers and politicians in learning how to cheat--be it their parents, their teachers, the sentinel in the examination hall, or philosophically speaking, their own selves.

Cheating -- a hereditary trait?
Cheating is an ancient exercise, dating back, arguably, to the existence of humankind. According to the book of Genesis, Cain's murder of his brother Abel was only the beginning of wickedness in the world. Then came the famous Jacob, who obtained his brother's birthright by an "unjust advantage," thus establishing, at a very early era, an art form that would, in the later stages of human civilisation, truly "rock" (clichéd as it mau sound!)

Then those with communist and/or socialist blood flowing in their veins might befittingly argue that the rich have throughout the ages cheated the poor--first it was the feudal lords cheating the poor peasants, then it was (/is) the bourgeoisie cheating the working class of their rightful share of profit, property and power. Some may even assert that a true capitalist society cannot exist without one group of people cheating the others....

With such an illustrious tradition of cheating to back us up, it is no surprise that we continue to bask in the glory of fraud, swindling, conning, deceit, etc., and carry on the ritual by producing our share of cheats, con artists, loan defaulters, double-dealers and politicians.

Cheating: An indispensable ingredient of student life?
Ask any student who is not the salt of the earth and you would, predictably, receive the reply (accompanied by a sheepish smile), "Err...well... it isn't so much as cheating as an occasional peek at a neighbouring answer script, or a quick look at the book/copy/piece of paper when no one's looking your way, you know... to further enhance your already comprehensive knowledge... he..he.."

Food for thought, eh?
Students have, through time, devised exceptionally ingenious schemes and techniques of cheating. Answers can be artistically written, with minute handwriting, on the soles of sneakers, palm of the hands, undersides of shirts, dopattas, clip files etc. A veteran cheat recommends the application of traditional wears such as sarees and dhutis, which give a larger surface area for the inscription of essential data. Papers can be hidden in underwear's, in pencil boxes, in the space provided by the calculator and its cover, below wigs, etc. Solutions can be engraved on chewing gums, wrappers of chocolate, handkerchiefs, tissue paper (which is indeed very convenient. You take a packet of tissues, each tissue specializing in a particular chapter; sneeze into it once you're finished with one, throw it away and take out another one... sheer brilliancy!).

The peak seasons for cheating are November-December/ May-June, though this act of deception more or less sustains throughout the year. But to catch the spirit of cheating at its most exuberant, one has to witness the spree during the SSC and HSC examinations. People can be seen climbing fences and barriers to supply "nokol shoronjam" to the examinees, teachers and instructors remain nonchalant, at times turning a blind eye towards some favoured student, and even a handful of parents, hard as it is to believe, can be found giving tips on cheating to their offspring....

Last year the BCS question paper was released (fash kora) a few days prior to the examination day. This occasion gave way to a lot of infuriation on the part of the non-participating student spectators, who could only wish that such windfalls would favour them during their time too. Also, many English Medium students complain about the "barabari" strict precautionary measures taken by the British Council authorities to eradicate cheating, declaring it as "unfair" when compared to the lax security during the SSCs and HSCs.

The researcher came across a rebellious student who claimed that cheating is a student's "institutional right" and entreated the authorities in question to take his "highly judicious" view into consideration. The radical then proceeded to ask the researcher, rather fiercely she claims, what she thought about his standpoint. She rather diplomatically abstained from giving an answer, and fled quickly wishing the rebel "the best of luck!"

After all, "Nokol bidda boro bidda, jodi na pori dhora!"

Cheating: Our rank in the International Arena
The art of cheating encompasses people of all nationality, class, race, sex and religion. One may, however, wonder whether we, the proud titleholders of "the most corrupted nation in the world" (and that too for the third year in a row), have an upper hand over the other countries when it comes to such a sophisticated form of corruption. "Naturally!" the Amnesty International folks (not that I am saying they are very reliable!) would tell us if they were asked, with a smirk on their face.

Ah, well! There IS no end to what we can achieve!

Cheating on a daily basis:
"Bhaijan, loya jan; ekkerey 100% fresh fish straight from the Buriganga," the wily fish seller declares. Enchanted by his oily smile, you buy the fish and congratulate yourself on your good purchase, only to discover that the fish you have been boasting about is rotten...

Well, as Reader's Digest puts it, life's like that.

Further examples include the professed "birotiheen sitting" service in buses. The buses stop every other second, and you're lucky if you even get a handle to hang on to, let alone sit.

Then there are the fake beggars. He corners you and launches into a tragic tale of how his son is desperately ill with leukaemia and how death awaits with cruel intentions, that is, unless your wallet steps in and prevents the catastrophe. The gullible you of course believe him, and since you are very kind, you offer to introduce him to your dad a doctor. Notice how quickly he slithers out of sight.

Nevertheless these people actually have an excuse however inadequate for cheating; after all, poverty happens to be a very demanding taskmaster. But can the same be said of the numerous godfathers liberally strewn all over our country? They are not haunted by poverty, rolling in excess wealth is more in their line. They cheat the masses off their rightful share of freedom to live in peace, harmony and safety. But crime pays, and money talks, so don't expect them stop cheating in the near future. They won't, if they aren't made to.

Cheating: USA & the Western Media
Sounds confusing? Why not substitute the word "cheating" with its other synonyms, like "deception" and "falsification"? The meaning of the heading suddenly becomes rather lucid, does it not?

As most of the mass media industry is controlled by the western corporate sectors and in same cases, the government, it is becoming increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to get the real picture of international politics. Richard Folk, professor of international relations at Princeton, put it this way: "Western Foreign Policy is presented almost exclusively through a self-righteous, one-way legal/moral screen (with) positive images of Western values and innocence portrayed as threatened, validating a campaign of unrestrained violence."

This free media of the West (note the word "free") continues to censor all those "coverage" which confronts the culpability of the imperial powers. In a world that claims to be "democratic" and "egalitarian", is that effort anything short of cheating?

Cheating: In conclusion...
To be continued. Next week. Same paper. Same page. (That is, after reading all this on cheating, if you're gullible enough to still believe me!)



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