Degrees of Truth

She was gasping for breadth on the phone, breathing into the mouthpiece as she spoke haltingly with intermittent pauses.

It was natural because she was delivering a death news of a colleague called Akshay Singh.

Akshay Singh
Aaj Tak Reporter Akshay Singh

Akshay was covering a scam that had shocked everybody in the country. People were not shocked with the enormity of it but with the brutal way some people tried to cover it up since it came to light.
Akshay was interviewing the family who had lost their only son in the scam because he knew too much and had unfortunately agrees to become a witness in the court.

As the father was narrating his ordeal, Akshay had reportedly accepted a cup of tea while he was uplinking the bytes to the central server.

He vomited after he came out of the house. Fifteen minutes later, he lost his consciousness and died before he could reach the nearest government health centre.

Akshay was healthy, never suffered from an ailment and a senior reporter with the prominent Hindi channel, Aaj Tak. He was an expert on following up on scams and had covered dozens in his career.

But this scam snuffed him out.

The way this scam operated was simple — somebody else will appear for your exam and ensure that you get an admission into a government run technical/medical education institute or land a government job.

In return, you will have to pay an exorbitant amount for this proxy.

The scam came to light in ‎2013 after the police in Indore (Madhya Pradesh) arrested 20 people for impersonation at examination halls. By 2015, the number of arrests swelled to 2000 (two thousand).

The scam was termed by the media as the Vyapam Scam.

By July 2015, the list of arrested included Madhya Pradesh’s Education Minister (Laxmikant Sharma) and close to 110 other politicians of Madhya Pradesh. By this time, the state police department had to handover all the case files to the CBI took over the case.

But the number of arrests in the Vyapam scam was not as shocking as the number of unexplained deaths of witnesses in the case. Twenty three people died an unnatural death in this case including Akshay Singh of Aaj Tak.


The Vyapam Scam is now a memory but what fuelled the scam is our obsession for degrees. And maybe our notion that a ‘secure’ government job is the be-all and end-all of one’s education.

The obsession to get a university approved degree has reached to such a level that the degree holders (read applicants) outnumber the government jobs available in this country by several thousand times.

The result? Even a PhD holder (who technically qualified to become a college principal) is now applying for the job of a Chapraasi in a college.

Here’s what the obsession with degrees have turned the country into: ‎
(Courtesy: Indian Express on Sunday, March 6, 2015)


This education system needs an overhaul. We need to create a system where learning and training is important and not a piece of paper which awards the degree.

We need to create an education system where every student is updated about what’s happening in the market/environment/subject than what is written in the text-book.

A system where the teachers don’t read out from text books and give out class notes.


If India needs to progress, it has to learn that this education system – which revolves around the examination system and degrees — has to be trashed.

That was my reason for joining Harkisan Mehta Institute of Media, Research and Analysis (HMMRA). 

Here at HMMRA, we don’t have examinations, class notes or government approved degrees. Here we don’t give out class notes or boring dictations from text books. Here we don’t give you a degree and claim that our work of educating you is over.

I joined HMMRA because I know that we are changing the education system. Bit by bit.

The overwhelming response from the corporates that we have received so far bears testimony to the fact that the corporate houses and MNCs don’t care about your degrees. What they care about is what you know and how much of that you will be able to apply in real-life situations.

Dear students, you have suffered the education system enough. The general education degrees have no value after a point. It might help you get a government job but it won’t get you an inch closer to what you want to achieve in your professional career. We can change the education system, only if you realize that you need to turn away from the obsolete ‘system’.‎

To those who still aspire for a university approved degree which still rests itself on classroom lectures and examinations… I will notify you when the next advertisement comes out for peons because that is where most master degree holders seem to be heading towards these days.

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