Students sitting for civil service exams in Bihar on Sunday were likely left surprised, and maybe even a little amused, when one of the questions in the exam referred to the governors of states as a "kathputli (puppet)".
The question was in the General Knowledge paper of the main examination and asked students to "Critically examine the role of the Governor in state politics of India, especially in the context of Bihar. Is he just a puppet?"
Bihar Public Service Commission or BPSC officials were quick to clarify that its members had no role in the setting of questions. The officials laid the blame at the feet of the teacher who set the paper but said there was nothing wrong with the question, except, of course, that words like "kathputli" were avoidable. The organisation issued an apology later.
Bihar, which is ruled by an alliance led by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal (United) and the BJP, votes in state elections next year.
Relations between the allies are at a low point after the BJP offered only ministerial berth to each ally after its win in the Lok Sabha election in April-May. The offer upset Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, whose party won 16 of 17 seats it contested.
Interestingly, there was another question in the same paper that asked students to debate the pros and cons of large numbers of political parties competing in an election.
Meanwhile, Bihar has an unfortunate history of embarrassing moments in school and public exams.
Two years ago, a Class Eight exam paper, distributed across government schools, asked students to name what people from five countries are called. The "countries" listed were China, Nepal, England, India and - Kashmir.
The state government expressed its regret and described the incident as "embarrassing". The BPSC said it regretted the question and had blacklisted the teacher who wrote it.
In 2016 an unfortunate comment by Intermediate Arts "topper" Ruby Rai, who said political science teaches cooking, lifted the lid off a massive scam in the Bihar School Examination Board (BSEB). A second student, Rahul Kumar, who ranked third in science in Class 12 exams, was also arrested in what has since been called "topper scam".
In 2015, Bihar was shamed globally by pictures of relatives scaling the walls of an exam centre to pass cheatsheets to students in an exam centre.