Should India, a country with so much diversity and disparities among its people, conduct admissions to programmes in its Central universities based on a single admission test? It is a question that calls for a larger debate, but the present mess regarding the Central University Entrance Test (CUET) is unacceptable.
Several students who took the fourth phase of the examination for admission to undergraduate courses held on Wednesday had to go home without completing it owing to technical glitches and server problems. The National Testing Agency (NTA) which is mandated to conduct the test promptly cancelled it and the University Grants Commission has offered all the affected candidates the chance to take a retest. With this, it is doubtful if the NTA will be able to meet the extended deadline of August 30 to conclude the entrance examinations. The NTA had earlier cancelled the second phase of the test which was also marred by glitches.
Neither the government nor the UGC has explained the urgency in going in for a national entrance test before thinking through the idea and putting in place the necessary mechanism. This cavalier attitude is putting the students through immeasurable agony and inconvenience. Ironically, one of the arguments the government had advanced in support of the single test was that it will spare the students of the need to write multiple tests.
It is not just the university entrance test where lack of preparedness and robust mechanism has failed its customers. The income tax payers have been complaining for several years about the online portal for filing returns. It has been five years since the Goods and Services Tax regime has been in place but its information technology backbone is still not foolproof.
India boasts of being the IT hub of the world but critical failures in government services continue to make life miserable for the people. The government must take it seriously and ensure that the agencies concerned take adequate precautions so that the failure saga is not repeated next time around....