Student Ethics

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During my stay in IIT, I have witnessed many ethically objectionable acts by students. The acts are innumerable and I may take liberty to mention a few of them. Students from well to do families manage to get the Merit Cum Means scholarship without feeling that there is anything wrong about their action (what more, they always seem to have valid arguments to justify it), some find it "shrewd" to get away from Nescafe without paying the bill, others will go abroad and use the public transport freely when there is no one around to check (of course failing to understand why the other people (read foreigners) always pay when they can exactly do the same thing?). The acts may in themselves be trivial, unworthy of mention, but in their very trivialness they point to the abysmal lack of moral integrity, an utter indifference to the moral law, and a void, an emptiness that blinds even the "best" of our country. It is indeed appalling that the students, who were a part of the vision that was supposed to see them as the exemplar, are so morally corrupt.

I would here like to speak about the most ubiquitous of the unethical acts, the one which I have scrutinized most closely, having shamelessly being a participant in it on many occasions, cheating and copying in assignments. One of my close friends who had been on a student Exchange in France told me something “The students at the university very not that bright, neither more intelligent, but when it came to being upright, there was no exception. Every student attended all the classes and did all the allotted assignments without cheating”. Others have similar stories to tell. This may seem to be an irrelevant point, but it is worthy of being noted. We have distant dreams of being the MITs and Stans of tomorrow. But with our moral standards so low that they do not even come close to some of the lesser known European Universities, can we even place ourselves as rightful competitors?

It would not be an overstatement to assert that moral bankruptcy, (like so many other things of our rich heritage) is a uniquely Indian phenomenon, so universal, that it has become common and normal to cheat. Copying an assignment or a lab file is a norm, not an exception. What should be out rightly condemned and unequivocally criticized is mindlessly endorsed generation after generation without questioning. Indeed, much like the government corruption, our corruption has got so deeply ingrained, that there are arguments to justify it. Too much load, RCA pressure, uninterested professors, nerve breaking competition, how can our moral fiber stay strong when it faces so many challenges? Not much unlike a babu in a bureaucratic setup who amasses a wealth of reason to makeup for his lack of work ethic, these reasons are more often than not convenient excuses to escape work in order to take it easy.

Students often develop differing attitudes to it. A few feel that "jugaad" is the only right path in IIT life, and what better than cheat your way through, when a luscious job lies at the end of it all! Many others do it out of convenience, the pressure of "extra-curricular" activities being high on them, they still have to compete in academics, and it's always more convenient to copy the file than to make it all by yourself. Many others will do it, well because since everybody else is doing it, why be an exception! In fact, this category is the most pervasive one. Most students in their first semesters try to be honest and sincere, but the encouraging seniors do their brotherly bit by telling them "PHP ki file kya banayega, max fraud course hai". Slowly as time passes by, morality is reduced to another convenience, the one that is less important, and the one that can be easily disposed of, because at the end of the day what matters is whether you get a better GPA or not, after all even the 8.5 guy next door copies stuff, why should I stay behind?

Unfortunately, the idea of cheating in assignments is...
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