T he Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has been forced to scrap the Class XII Economics and Class X Mathematics papers, after it at last found evidence of “certain happenings”. And it is the country’s capital that is at the centre of the paper leakage, with a coaching institute there presently under the scanner of Delhi police which has registered two crimil cases. Whether in Guwahati or Goa, Bhopal or Cheni, students across the country are in anguish over the prospect of appearing for the gruelling papers again, which the Union HRD Minister has promised will be of the “same level of difficulty”. CBSE chief Anita Karwal has said that the decision for re-test was taken for the “good of students”, and the new dates are likely to be announced in a week. But there are allegations that papers of Class XII English, Accountancy, Chemistry and Biology too were leaked. Parents in Delhi have vented their frustration before the media, saying that it was common knowledge among their wards and fellow students that the question papers were circulating days before the tests. Meanwhile, students in other zones are questioning why they have to take the re-test, when it could have been limited to Delhi alone. The problem is that papers leaked mostly on WhatsApp must have been seen across the entire country, so the re-test is uvoidable even if it seriously impacts the morale of students. While HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar has promised to institute a “foolproof” system for holding board examitions, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi has called for his sacking, claiming that while his party “always protected” various institutions, these are being “destroyed by the RSS/BJP”. So the political blame game has begun in earnest, even as common people are left wondering whether the CBSE will continue to be leaden-footed and ham-handed when it comes to dealing with new-age cheats. The board is reportedly mulling a new system to deliver question papers to schools, in which the board headquarters will send a URL on the registered email or mobile number of the centre superintendent. The centres will open the URL and login using two passwords at 15 minute interval just before the examition, and thereafter open and print the question paper. But there are misgivings about the system, considering the erratic power supply and internet speeds even in urban areas, not to speak of rural areas. This besides, the onus will be on the centres to print large number of question papers in short time, but these schools lack the requisite infrastructure. Clearly, a foolproof system will not be easy to design, despite the occasiol brave talk about technology. The CBSE question paper leakage puts into perspective the failure of the Assam Higher Secondary Education Council (AHSEC) this year in conducting a leak-proof examition, as well as its refusal to re-conduct the physics, chemistry and mathematics tests despite an inquiry committee finding that the question papers had “in some form or the other” found its way to a junior college in Goalpara district beforehand. While this panel wanted a re-examition, the AHSEC in its wisdom decided otherwise, arguing that re-examition will delay announcement of results “which will affect the academic career of students”. So the AHSEC and the CBSE have taken two diametrically opposite decisions about holding re-examition, when faced with paper leakages — on the same argument of safeguarding the career of students! This raises much food for thought about accountability.