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Should IIT aspirants’ details be disclosed?

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As reported by Shamsheer Yousaf in expressbuzz.com on 19 October 2009:

Should IIT aspirantsâ?? details be disclosed?


Should IIT aspirants’ details be disclosed?



BANGALORE: The Central Information Commission (CIC) will now decide whether details of candidates appearing for the IIT Joint Entrance Examination such as marks, names, addresses etc can be exempted from disclosure under the Right to Information(RTI) Act. The CIC will tackle the question on November 6, when it will hear a case to decide whether IIT Guwahati — the organizing JEE for 2009 — should disclose this data.


The case is being viewed as an important test of IIT-JEE’s credibility, as disclosure of 2006 JEE data showed that formulas for calculating subject cutoffs did not tally, and irregularities were alleged in marks scored by wards of faculty members.


Barua responds


Meanwhile, responding to TNIE’s report (Ask for data on JEE and mum’s the word at IIT-G, Oct 13) on the nondisclosure of JEE data , IIT Guwahati Director Gautam Barua has said that he had offered the appellant data for scrutiny with the names made anonymous.


IIT Guwahati, the organizing JEE for 2009, had refused to provide marks and personal details of candidates on a CD as requested by Prof Rajeev Kumar of IIT Kharagpur under the Right to Information Act.


Barua’s response referred to an offer made by him, in an email to Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi, to make available five fields for each candidate -- candidate serial no,candidate category, marks in physics, chemistry and mathematics. He also clarified that the registration number would not be provided as this could be used to identify which region the candidate was appearing from. Earlier Barua claimed that the data could be misused by coaching centres for planning and targeting students.


In response Kumar said that the disclosure of similar data in the past had revealed bungling/ irregularities, which showed that wards of influential people including faculty wards had scored very high marks. The Central Information Commission has now scheduled a hearing for November 6 to hear the case.


Email interaction


A summary of emails between IC Shailesh Gandhi, Kumar and Barua On October 2, Prof Rajeev Kumar files non-compliance of CIC order with IC Shaliesh Gandhi against IIT-G IIT-G Director Dr Gautam Barua respoonds with apprehensions of misuse of data by coaching centres.


IC Shailesh Gandhi asks Barua to provide the fields of data that IITG has in its possession, and asks disclosure of which fields would constitute invasion of privacy.


Barua suggests making available only marks of candidates, candidate serial number, and category. No registration number will be provided.


On October 3, IC Shailesh Gandhi tells Barua that in light of previous decision, there was no case for not disclosing fields. Tells Barua a hearing can be scheduled.


Barua cites privacy violation, issues of profit-making, and property rights.


Kumar replies that making an argument that IIT wishes to make profit and therefore against disclosure of data is against the RTI Act and transparency.

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As reported by Manoj Mitta of TNN in timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 25 October 2009:

Now, IITs come up with their RTI 'shield' - India - The Times of India


Now, IITs come up with their RTI 'shield'


NEW DELHI: Stung by the exposure of admission anomalies in recent years, the IIT system has come up with an innovative method of blocking transparency even as it agreed to give data under RTI on the marks obtained by the four lakh candidates in this year’s joint entrance examination (JEE). It insisted on giving the data only in the hard copy running into hundreds of thousands of pages rather than in the more convenient form of a CD.


The information seeker, Rajeev Kumar, a computer science professor in IIT Kharagpur, is crying foul. For, the hard copy would not only result in a steep increase in the cost of information (running into six figures) but also make it almost impossible for him to detect irregularities in the latest JEE as he did in the three previous ones by analyzing the electronic data that had then by given to him under RTI.


As a result of this change in the strategy of the IIT system, central information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi fixed a hearing for November 6 specially to resolve this soft vs hard debate. The hearing follows the unusual reasons given by Gautam Barua, director of IIT Guwahati and overall in-charge of JEE 2009, for his failure to comply with the CIC’s disclosure direction passed on July 30.


In his first mail to CIC on October 2, Barua said that as there were a number of RTI applications seeking the CD, “we are apprehensive that this request for electronic data is to profit from it by using it for IIT JEE coaching purposes (planning, targeting particular cities, population segments, etc).”


The reference to the coaching institutes is reminiscent of the recent controversy over the move to raise the bar on 12th class marks to be eligible for IIT selection.


Asserting that IITs had “nothing to hide regarding the results”, Barua said, “We are ready to show the running of the software with the original data to the CIC, if it so desires.”


As a corollary, Barua made an issue of the fact that Kumar “has not asked to see the data, but he wants an electronic version delivered to him. Why is this so?” Kumar responded to that by pointing out that the irregularities he had uncovered in the JEE of the previous three years was on the basis of “compute intensive scientific calculations and analysis, which could not have been done just by looking at the data.”


Barua’s explanation in his subsequent mail on October 3 is: “By seeing, I meant that the appellant could come to IIT Guwahati and view the data, see the software being run, etc.” He added that if this option was unacceptable to CIC, “we will wish to provide the data in hard copy form, the costs of printing having to be borne by the appellant.”


If Kumar is pressing that the data be given to him “in the form in which it is originally available”, it is because the access to the electronic data of the previous three years helped him unearth, for instance, the shocking fact that general category candidates got into IITs after scoring in JEE as little as little as 5% in Physics and 6% in Mathematics.

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Shamsheer Yousaf : Express Buzz


BANGALORE: In a decision that would make the IIT Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) process more transparent, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has ruled that details of candidates such as registration number, name, parents’ name, category, and marks secured should be open to public scrutiny. Overriding the objections of IIT Guwahati (IIT-G) - the organising institute for JEE 2009 - Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi ruled that providing these details under the Right to Information Act does not constitute invasion of privacy.


During the hearing, IIT-G Public Information Officer D Boro had stated that the data required by the appellant Rajeev Kumar, such as registration number, name, parents’ name ‘’are personal information of the candidates and should not be revealed to the third party’’. Gandhi ruled that while personal details like mobile phone numbers and e-mail addresses would fall in the category of information, merely giving the name of the person and the pin code with the marks obtained could not be considered an invasion of privacy.


The decision is being viewed as an important step in making the process transparent as disclosure of 2006 data had shown that formulas for calculating subject cut-offs did not tally. Irregularities were alleged in marks scored by wards of faculty members.


Original Article : CIC rules to publicise details of JEE candidates

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Cost of the appeals held at CIC must be paid for by the public authorities against which the appeal is held.


The IIT-G director and PIO had been quiet "frivolous".

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As reported by Aditi Tandon of TNS in tribuneindia.com on 04 February 2010:

The Tribune, Chandigarh, India - Main News


Mass discrepancies in IIT admissions


Despite good scores, students fail to make it


Venkatraman Ramakrishnan may have won a Nobel for Chemistry, but he was never good enough to crack the IIT-JEE. The scientist was perhaps one among the hundreds who, year after year, lose their IIT dream despite top scores in the JEE of a given year.


Strangely for them, others with scores much lower than their own make it to the institutes, courtesy a heavily faulted and non-fixed procedure of fixing cut-off marks for math, physics and chemistry, which determine a student’s eligibility for admission to IITs.


For the first time since decades of secrecy around the IIT system, large-scale discrepancy in admissions to institutes has surfaced, following efforts of Prof Rajeev Kumar, a faculty at IIT Kharagpur, who has brought the mass bungling to government’s notice.


Shocking disclosures (from 2006 to 2009) he procured from IITs under the RTI are now in the knowledge of HRD Minister Kapil Sibal, who will meet the professor tomorrow to discuss the matter. The documents show how 994 top scoring students failed to make it to IITs in 2006 just because cut off calculations that year were faulted.


Picture this: A 2006 IIT-JEE aspirant with a cumulative score of 251 (101 in math; 96 physics; 54 chemistry) was disqualified for admission whereas another with a low score of 154 (37 math; 48 physics; 69 chemistry) scraped through. A top JEE 2006 scorer with 279 marks (36 math; 116 physics and 127 chemistry) was rejected against another who scored a meager 156 (45 math; 56 physics and 55 chemistry).


Reason: Top scorers in JEE 2006 failed to secure cut-off marks prescribed by IITs in either of the three subjects - 37, 48 and 55, respectively, for maths, physics and chemistry, respectively. Consequently, a student who had a high score of 101 in Math and 96 in Physics was disqualified that year only because he missed the Chemistry cut off by one mark, scoring 54 instead of the required 55.


What’s shocking, however, is this: Cut off calculations for IIT-JEE 2006 which Prof Rajeev Kumar did on the basis of the criteria which IITs disclosed under the RTI yielded much lower minimum scores for the three subjects than what the IITs had claimed. Actual cut offs came out to be 7, 4 and 6, respectively, for math, physics and chemistry as against 37, 48, and 55, respectively, which IITs followed that year for admissions.


“The IITs then supplied many versions of the subject cut-off procedure (which to date is not fixed and keeps changing), none could correctly explain the stated cut offs used in 2006,” Kumar stated today in his letter to the President of India, IITs and to Sibal.


Kumar’s theory of IIT 2006 admissions being based on erroneous calculations gains ground considering unimaginable declines in subsequent JEE cut-offs — 4, 1 and 3, respectively, in 2007; 5, 0 and 3 in 2008 and 11, 8 and 11 in 2009, respectively for math, physics and chemistry. Equally inexplicable is the wide variation in cut off marks over years - in 2008, cut off for Physics was 0; it was 48 in 2006.


Documents further show that in JEEs (2007 to 2009), students with as low as 5 per cent marks (one scored just 8 marks in physics; the cut off was 0) were declared qualified. However, students with as high as 29 per cent marks in any one subject were rejected. The most shocking case involves a student who, with as less as 10 per cent marks in math (just 16) in JEE 2009 was placed at a high All-India rank of 1234, enabling him entry to any IIT. The trend is obviously in contrast to the IIT policy of fishing the best talent with basic knowledge of the three subjects.


The RTI has also exposed instances of wrong evaluation of question papers by IITs which still don’t share JEE results on the day of the test. Before the test, they seek from students a declaration saying: “Admission irregularities can’t be challenged”. RTI documents with Kumar have revealed that in IIT-JEE 2006, questions worth 11 marks were wrongly evaluated. In 2008, a candidate with 10 marks in math qualified for admissions, whereas math questions worth 18 marks were wrongly evaluated.

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The marks are only small things, the bigger and more fundamental discrimination is the discrimination on basis of age.

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