Nearly three years after a probe uncovered a massive scam in the Bihar School Examination Board, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has finally opened up on what many described as a "blot" on the state's education system.
"It was a very bad situation. The fact that students could lay claim to high rankings through bribery instead of merit made us hang our head in shame. The scam brought a bad name to the entire state," Mr Kumar said at a Teacher's Day event in Patna on Thursday. He, however, added that the functioning of the Bihar School Examination Board improved greatly in the years that followed.
The Bihar examination scam first came to light when Ruby Rai, who had topped the state board in 2016, described her stream of study as "prodigal science" instead of political science. Then, as if to disprove those suggesting that it was a mere slip of tongue, the teenage student went on to say that cooking was her main area of focus in the subject.
The investigation that followed threw up a major bribery-cum-forgery racket involving education officials, and over 40 people were arrested. A forensic test confirmed that the handwriting on the answer sheets that had earned her top marks in the examination conducted earlier that year did not match hers, and the duplicate answer sheets did not have the education board's water mark.
Ruby Rai confessed to her guilt in an interrogation that followed, but said that she had only wanted to pass the Class 12 examination - not top it. Opposition parties, including Lalu Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal, latched on to the issue to accuse the Nitish Kumar government of looking the other way while its education officials indulged in major corruption rackets under its nose.
"But things have improved now," Nitish Kumar said at the Teacher's Day event. "Now that the masterminds of the racket have been put in jail, new technology has been introduced to ensure that incidents like these don't occur again. And thanks to that, there are no major complaints."
(With inputs from Agencies)
Follow NDTV for latest election news and live coverage of assembly elections 2019 in Maharashtra and Haryana.
Subscribe to our YouTube channel, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for latest news and live news updates.