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To Prevent Cheating, Indian Army Recruits Took Entrance Exam in Only Underwear

Cheating is so rife in India that army officials required potential recruits to strip off their clothing during a written entrance exam.

Indian army candidates sit in their underwear in a field as they take a written exam after being asked to remove their clothing to deter cheating during a recruitment day in Muzaffarpur on February 28, 2016. India's army made candidates at a recruitment day in Bihar take a written exam in their underwear to prevent them from cheating, reports said March 1, after a spate of exam cheating scandals in the eastern state. AFP PHOTO / STR / AFP / STRDEL        (Photo credit should read )
Indian army candidates sit in their underwear in a field as they take a written exam after being asked to remove their clothing to deter cheating during a recruitment day in Muzaffarpur on February 28, 2016. India's army made candidates at a recruitment day in Bihar take a written exam in their underwear to prevent them from cheating, reports said March 1, after a spate of exam cheating scandals in the eastern state. AFP PHOTO / STR / AFP / STRDEL (Photo credit should read )

Some test-takers in India have taken cheating to a new level, wearing tiny headphones and microphones, and even stitching cameras into their clothing to communicate with people giving answers outside the exam room. But this week, in the eastern state of Bihar, army officials imposed an equally extreme way to keep everyone honest: Recruits were told to strip to their skivvies before they could take a mandatory entrance exam.

Local newspapers published a picture of more than 1,000 army recruits sitting cross-legged in a grass field, hunched over their test papers — wearing nothing but underwear.

“We conduct thorough frisking and ensure that candidates carry minimum external things to the exam center,” a colonel who oversaw the exam told the Indian Express newspaper.

Apparently “clothing” accounts for those external things — and test-takers weren’t happy about it.

“Telling us to remove our clothes was not dignified,” one of them, who declined to use his name, told the same newspaper.

“We had no option but to comply with the instructions, even though it felt odd,” said another unnamed candidate.

Luckily for future recruits, those forced to strip for the test in Bihar may be the last to have to do so. An unidentified senior army official described the mandatory undressing as an “administrative lapse.”

Still, local officers who issued the controversial order may have had reason to think the recruits would cheat. Last year, a photo surfaced online showing parents and friends scaling the wall of an exam center in Bihar to pass answers to school students inside.

And stripping down to their underwear might not even be enough for those really intent on cheating. One Indian website that specializes in selling cheating and spying devices sells a “modified inductive Bluetooth Penis specially designed for hidden communication.”

According to the product description, the bluetooth penis is handy for an “investigation or collecting the evidence, during examinations, and during the meeting.”

STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images

Henry Johnson is a fellow at Foreign Policy. He graduated from Claremont McKenna College with a degree in history and previously wrote for LobeLog. @HenryJohnsoon

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