By Prerna Grewal
Amongst one of the biggest scams in India, the Vyapam Scam is gradually bringing India’s own Game of Thrones level of politics to light. Being labelled as one of the most sinister scams in the country’s history, it’s something that would make an intriguing plot for a movie or a novel. But something that has scope for existence only within the realms of fiction is indeed being witnessed in reality. It might perhaps rather end up serving as an inspiration for various fictional adaptations.
Ironically, the Vyapam Scam has had echoes in fiction even before it came to light. Amongst the various methods adopted for cheating in the examinations conducted by Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (also known as Vyavsayik Pareeksha Mandal or Vyapam) and Medical Council of India, the model of an already enrolled student seated between aspiring applicants in order to allow them to copy answers, resembles the model adopted for securing admission in the much acclaimed Bollywood comedy Munnabhai M.B.B.S.
Reports and investigations over time have brought the involvement of a wide network of politicians and officials to the surface. Former education minister Laxmikant Sharma, Governer Ram Naresh Yadav, ex officer on special duty to governer Dhanraj Yadav and Deputy Inspector General RK Shivhare are a few names that stand out amongst this integrated web of corruption. The Congress party has also been alleging Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan of being involved in the scam. At the same time, it must also be noted that the scam started during Digvijaya Singh’s term as the Chief Minister.
India Today journalist Akshay Singh who was investigating the scam and the Dean of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose medical college, Arun Sharma, are amongst the latest additions to those found dead under mysterious circumstances. Various figures have cropped up in regards with the number of dead people associated with the scam. While official accounts put the number of deaths at 25, unofficial estimates of deaths vary from 44 to 156, depending on who is making the claim.
As reported by The Wire, “A majority of those who died are from the Chambal region straddling Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Most of the dead were in the age group of 25-30. They were either students, who had fraudulently secured admission to medical colleges after paying hefty sums to touts of the PEB’s bosses, or job aspirants who benefited from the manipulation of recruitment tests”. The phrase “Danse Macabre”, meaning the dance of death, is literally finding manifestation in the contemporary reality.
The entire scenario raises several questions- Is it possible to untangle this mass web of corruption? Does one have heroes like Beckett and Castle to reveal the climax of this real life crime thriller? Is having heroes enough to arrive at a conclusion in a situation where people from all rungs seem to be involved? With reports of state level politicians being involved, why hasn’t a CBI enquiry been approved till now? Why is Prime Minister Narendra Modi, otherwise frequently active on Twitter, silent about this scam?
Like various other scams, big or small, petty politics that’s witnessed every second day is nothing more than a recurrent manifestation of trivial aspirations, greed and self-interest of a large number of people. History can offer numerous instances of devastation by the dominance of one or all of these traits. Memory, however, easily obliterates past and cloaks it with current needs and ambition. One wonders if the negative aspects of history will ever stop repeating themselves. One wonders and is almost convinced that dream of an idyllic reality will always be a dream. Good and bad, white and black, reward and punishment – there is no perfect distribution and disintegration of these categories. It is indeed a grey world.