The clock must tick as an index to the “advancement of learning” ~ the motto of the University of Calcutta. Yet the campus authorities have turned the clock back to devise a quick-fix solution to a problem almost unprecedented ~ the flunking of no fewer than 43,000 students across colleges in the general steam of the graduate examination and the resultant denial of promotion. While the students have been up in arms in orchestrating their demand for leniency in evaluation, the authorities have distinctly played on the back foot.

And trashed in the process is the examination system and more accurately the evaluation of answer papers. Sad to reflect, the office of the Vice-Chancellor has accorded a spurious spin on the concept of what it calls “natural justice” by reviving the examination regulations that are close to a decade-old… and with the expressed objective to promote the “disqualified candidates”.

A more wimpish, if not antediluvian, response by an institution, that claims to be a centre of excellence, would be hard to imagine. If the rules formulated in 2009 ~ obviously lenient and agreeable ~ can be regurgitated in 2018 to stave off a campus imbroglio, it is hard not to wonder whether the Vice-Chancellor and the Syndicate are overly anxious to cut corners… and thus play to the gallery of the flunked.

To an extent, many of the unsuccessful students deserve a measure of sympathy as their performance in the Honours papers has been remarkably impressive.

The bitter irony being that despite the high scores in the major discipline, they had not been promoted owing to the disaster in the general stream. It is pretty obvious that the students had accorded the short shrift to the general papers ~ once known as Pass subjects ~ in their anxiety to achieve a sterling performance in the Honours subject.

The decision to issue “new” mark-sheets would have been laughed out of court were it not for the profound implications. The authorities have scarcely realised that “agreeable” and/or “revised” mark-sheets might well reduce the students to a laughing-stock if and when they wish to migrate to other universities both in India and abroad. Thoroughly incoherent, even unacceptable, must be the inherent oddity of the examination system.

There has been little or no effort either on the part of the Vice-Chancellor or the Syndicate to ascertain the factors behind the dismal performance that has “disqualified” hundreds of thousands of students. The disconnect is dire when contextualised with their performance in the Honours streams.

The teachers, above all, cannot evade responsibility, with many of them tinkering with the general papers amidst their obsessive concern with the Honours papers, if not private tuition as well. For once, minister Partha Chatterjee was right with an albeit sweeping generalisation ~ “They don’t study; so they have failed.” The CU Syndicate has charted the easy way out. The examination system stands trivialised.