All marks for Laloo

PATNA DEC. 4 A few months ago, a question paper of the Bihar Public Service Commission created a ripple, and the Bihar State Examination Board did one better on Tuesday while seeking to test the knowledge of students.

Over a million Standard VIII students were asked a question on the former Chief Minister and RJD president, Laloo Prasad Yadav, in their Hindi paper. Mr. Yadav was accorded more "weightage" than even Mahatma Gandhi or Lord Mahavir or Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Narayan or the celebrated Hindi writer, Munshi Premchand. Questions on them carried just 10 marks, the same earmarked for a "comprehension" on Mr. Yadav.

A question on the leader who spearheaded the "Sampoorna Kranti" movement carried just one mark and it was the same with Lord Mahavira, who preached Jainism mostly in Bihar. The query on Mahatma Gandhi carried four marks as also that on Premchand, a Bihari. Incidentally, there was no question on the first President of India, Rajendra Prasad, a son of Bihar.

The Hindi paper is part of a mid-term appraisal of students in their preparation for the secondary examinations (Class X). The new curriculum was introduced only this year and hence the current examination is the first being conducted on the basis of the new pattern.

The question on Mr. Yadav carried 10 marks, testing the students' understanding of the man. There was no reference to Information Technology. Were the paper-setters aware of his aversion for it?

The three-para text extolled Mr. Yadav as an "open-book, with a will power and a magnetic personality, doing only what he thought was proper". It claimed that Mr. Yadav was committed to the poor and the Dalits and championed the cause of communal harmony. He also had the gift of gab and humour. The students were asked to answer a set of five questions — asking them to explain why Mr. Yadav happened to be an "open book"; what helped him attract the people; why he was considered a model role vis-a-vis communal harmony; what he liked the most and why people were his fans.

The Minister for Secondary Education, Ramchandra Purve, justified the question claiming that it was based on "reality". He denied there was no "politics" in it. Mr. Yadav was a well-known and historic personality.

The BSEB had committed no wrong and no controversial questions had been asked and there was no distortion of facts," he maintained.

The leader of the Opposition, S.K. Modi, alleged that Mr. Yadav had developed a culture of promoting "flatterers".

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