‘Should Kashmir be handed over to Pakistan’: Question in Civil Services exam creates furore

Students attend class. [FPK Photo/ Qayoom Khan]

New Delhi: More than two years after Madhya Pradesh State Board mentioned the term ‘Azad Kashmir’ in the 10th standard question paper, the state’s Public Service Commission, in its question paper, has asked whether ‘Kashmir should be handed over to Pakistan’.

On June 20, two academic experts were blacklisted by the Madhya Pradesh Public Service Commission (MPPSC) and ordered an inquiry over a question in a state civil services preliminary exam paper on whether Kashmir should be handed over to Pakistan to save India from money drain.

The question asked during the exam about the Indian Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir is doing rounds on social media sites.

“Should India decide to hand over Kashmir to Pakistan?” reads the question, which appeared in all Sets (A, B, C and D) of the paper.

The question presented two options, one suggesting that it should be done because it would save India’s resources. The other option stated that it may lead to other ‘secessionist’ movements.

The students were asked to choose between the two and provide reasons for the same. The incident led to a political furore in the State, prompting the Seva Aayog to take action against the individual who set the questions for the civil services.

The official was reprimanded for not following the guidelines while preparing the question paper. He has been sent a show-cause notice and debarred from all future duties, associated with the MPPSC.

However, the state’s academic experts are not new to the controversies. Earlier in March 2020, when the Madhya Pradesh State Board mentioned ‘Azad Kashmir’ in its social science examination paper prepared for the 10th standard exams, the board faced the severe criticism for using the name Azad.

In the social science paper meant for the 10th standard students, question number four, presented in both Hindi and English languages, was ‘match the following type question’.

The students were given five words and their related answers were given in a jumbled form. The students were required to match the question with its correct option.

The option on the left column had its correct and matching option on the right-hand column. As such, option number ‘c’ of question number ‘4’ is ‘India-Pakistan war’ and its related option given in the paper was ‘Azad Kashmir’.

The Board’s Azad Kashmir mention prompted the Commission for Protection of Child Rights to seek an explanation from the Madhya Pradesh Board of Secondary Education (MPBSE).

In a letter to MPBSE secretary, the Commission’s chairman, Priyank Kanoongo, had said prima facie this seems to be a criminal offence.

“You are requested to urgently investigate into this matter. The Commission may also be informed of the action taken against the person responsible in this matter,” the letter mentioned.

One of the questions in the Social Science examination of Class 10 asked candidates to identify ‘Azad Kashmir’ on the map. The term also occurred in a match-a-pair question.

“Such kinds of questions are potentially misleading which can negatively influence the minds of children, since Azad Kashmir is not a constitutionally approved phrase or term,” Kanoongo had said.

“Also, usage of such terms in examination paper by the Madhya Pradesh State Board is viewed as an endorsement of such phrases which is not in consonance with the Constitution of India,” he added.

The letter further mentioned, “In absence of compliance report within the stipulated time, the Commission will be constrained to take further action as per the provisions contained in Section 14 of CPCR Act, 2005.”


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