One of the questions in Paper II of JEE Mains examination is as follows:
An irrelevant question you say? I agree. This question is not only irrelevant, but also ambiguous. The ambiguity of this questions starts with the point about faith. If we pose this question to Sibal, he would answer this question as 2. He would even explain his answer “I disregard other options because being truly secular I assume that three faiths in this question have to be Hinduism, Christianity and Islam”. One could at least give benefit of doubt to the people who set the paper if the question were to identify the place where ancient cave temples can be found. The answer would have been evident. But no, secular JEE needs secular questions.
But it doesn’t stop there. There is another question in paper II about Qutub Minar, one to identify an Architect in given options. Thankfully the question about Qutub Minar is not about its significance. If one were to go through IIT JEE Mains paper, one would find that the standard has been lowered, by a long shot. This is not good. The consequences of a low level of difficulty JEE before too [2010, 2011]. The direction in which JEE seems to be headed is precisely the road toward total disaster. And why not? With such a brilliant mind like Kapil Sibal at the helm of the affairs, why would it be any different?
When CBSE sets the paper, what happens? As noted on twitter:
Get this. This is not history paper, this is not Civils paper. This is JEE Mains. twitter.com/KVSarmaJ/statu…
— K V Sarma J (@KVSarmaJ) April 9, 2013
When this was pointed out to some of the enthusiastic folk on twitter, some quipped “this question fine in GK paper”. To some answering ambiguous and irrelevant questions is a part of GK. Some things are better left unquestioned I guess.
What Changed From 2012?
After severe consternation, some heated discussions, rejections, warnings etc., Sibal finally convinced everybody that AIEEE must be abolished. JEE was then made the de facto exam for entry into IITs, NITs and Deemed Universities. Many may disagree but Dr Murli Manohar Joshi hit the right balance when he introduced AIEEE – thereby allowing engineering aspirants to avoid too many examinations.
The 3-tier system that evolved helped many to take low risk at given financial burden while preparing for entrance examinations. The 3-tier system had IIT JEE at the top, AIEEE in the middle and state level entrance/university level examinations at the bottom. This helped students in 2 key ways –
- it reduced number of examinations they had to face thereby lowering financial burden
- through one AIEEE examination, students had the opportunity to get into many colleges of equal or competing standards – in both faculty and infrastructure
The 3-tier systems had an organic nature to it with AIEEE playing the milestone to identify institutions that would probably be able to challenge IITs with respect to the quality of graduates. The vision was evident – educational institutions need to grow in quality of research and instruction from lowest level (tier-3) to first jump into AIEEE range (tier-2) and then into IIT range (tier-1). This ensured competition with clear objectives and no right to “claim IIT status” just with mere existence for a long time.
The effect was tremendous. Opportunities suddenly were more and hope was rekindled. Things were not allowed to go in that trajectory though. In comes Kapil Sibal with a brilliant idea – destroy the working system and replace it with a monster.
Sibal’s game plan as we discussed earlier is on the same trajectory.
Social justice shrouds merit | paper difficulty level lowers 100% year-on-year | open to interpretation, ambiguous and ridiculous questions continue | errors in paper increase | simplified paper resulsts in high cut off in general category | more Social Justice with false data that the system works wonders | the vicious circle is complete
Sibal hit the ball out of the ground by keeping CBSE for the first phase of examination. There is a fundamental flaw in asking CBSE to evaluate if a student is eligible for Engineering –
Does CBSE have the right expertise in engineering to identify if a student could be a competent engineer?
CBSE may be in a position to say if a student mastered basic sciences well but how can they judge whether a student is good enough for engineering?
The effect of introducing CBSE in the system is government control and then of course “the three faiths question” – ambiguous and irrelevant. In fact, its like asking Rahul Gandhi at CII conference to identify the odd one out from the pictures of Kalawati, Girish and himself.
Poor Quality of Questions
One of the striking features of the past 4 years of JEE is marked reduction in difficulty level. Some questions are mere substitutions. Some teachers, students and lecturers even say many questions were taken from NCERT books without even change in values. In the past, JEE used to be about application of a concept, but now JEE seems to be more about being aware of a concept. This year’s paper doesn’t have any inter-disciplinary questions. 2010, 2011 questions at least had one or two.
A cursory look at the Mathematics section of the question paper reveals that there is not one question which involves application of a concept. In fact, several questions require no more than 1-2 steps.
The pattern in which JEE’s standard has been reduced is similar to the way EAMCET lost its value. Reduced difficulty level in Mathematics section of EAMCET meant many people scored well. When cut off goes low, chances for a deserving student also go low. Imagine this: if army were to say mere ability to run 400 meters in 1 hour, what kind of soldiers would you have? Tougher the paper, better those who qualify.
Sibal is taking JEE down a path very well known to engineering aspirants in AP. This is a dangerous development. CBSE must be relieved of this extra burden and must be told to first get its secondary and higher secondary education right.