India held its usual government exams for student teachers on Sunday in Rajasthan state, and, knowing that cheating has often been a problem, authorization was given to cut mobile internet access for the duration.
Some 1.6 million men and women travelled from their homes over the weekend, great distances in some cases, to take the exams in 4,000 centres — all for just 31,000 jobs in Rajasthan.
A job as a teacher is highly coveted, and this has created very competitive exam days. Officials instituted a rigorous security protocol to ensure fairness for all. Their efforts were rewarded when a group of people were found acting suspiciously outside the exam hall on Saturday evening, likely testing out the reception for the Bluetooth devices they had hidden in the soles of their shoes.
The devices were going to be able to receive calls that would then be sent wirelessly to tiny receivers hidden in the student teachers’ ears.
The plan, according to france24.com, was that accomplices outside would call the person’s flip flop and dictate the correct answers.
As an indicator of how prized a teacher’s position would be, investigators found that at least 25 students had bought these flip flops from a gang for 600,000 rupees (US$8,000) per pair, the Straits Times reported.
The information was shared with several other districts before the exams began, prompting many centres to ask the students to remove their footwear outside the exam halls. Even secondary students cheat so frequently that socks and shoes have long been banned in class lest notes are snuck in to the exams.
“We were aware of the possibility of cheating — but we thought it would be a question of (an exam) leak or someone would use the internet, which is why it was restricted in many cities,” Priti Chandra, a police official in the western city of Bikaner told AFP.
“In one case,” she said, “we caught a student teacher after the exam and had to take him to a doctor to identify and remove the Bluetooth device from his ear.”
Professionals in India can earn a living impersonating others and taking exams in their place, or by stealing or illegally procuring exam papers and reselling them.
“But this was a totally new modus operandi,” Chandra said. “(They) are getting so tech savvy.”