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Indian Student Jailed After Accidentally Revealing She Cheated on Live TV

An Indian student went on television and accidentally proved she had cheated on exams. Now she's going to jail.

In this photograph taken on March 19, 2015, Indian relatives of students taking school exams climb the walls of the exam building to help pass candidates answers to questions in Vaishali in the eastern state of Bihar. Authorities in eastern India were left red-faced on March 19, 2015, after images of relatives scaling the walls of a school exam centre to pass notes to candidates were broadcast on local television. Dozens of people were shown clinging to the windows of one four-storey building in the eastern state of Bihar, where more than 1.4 million teenagers are sitting their school leaving exams. AFP PHOTO / STR        (Photo credit should read STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images)
In this photograph taken on March 19, 2015, Indian relatives of students taking school exams climb the walls of the exam building to help pass candidates answers to questions in Vaishali in the eastern state of Bihar. Authorities in eastern India were left red-faced on March 19, 2015, after images of relatives scaling the walls of a school exam centre to pass notes to candidates were broadcast on local television. Dozens of people were shown clinging to the windows of one four-storey building in the eastern state of Bihar, where more than 1.4 million teenagers are sitting their school leaving exams. AFP PHOTO / STR (Photo credit should read STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images)

There are so many embarrassing ways that students in India have been caught cheating in school that it’s practically impossible to keep track: From wearing tiny bluetooth headphones to having their parents scale the walls of their schools and shout the answer through the windows, the lengths some students go to cheat seem even more complicated than properly preparing for the exams to begin with.

But high school student Ruby Rai, from Bihar state, took the cake last month when she actually made it through her entire exam without being caught exploiting the system — then agreed to do a celebratory interview on live TV about her high score.

Things got a little awkward when she said political science was related to cooking, revealing her lack of knowledge on the subject of her exam and prompting the state government to launch a retest. Rai couldn’t catch up on time and failed, but as if her poor grades and embarrassment on TV weren’t enough, on Sunday she was sentenced to serve two weeks in prison.

Another 18 people were reportedly arrested in connection to Rai’s case, as the Indian government has extended its crackdown on the deeply ingrained cheating system in Bihar state.

According to the BBC, in Rai’s reexamination, she was asked to write a poem and didn’t write more than three words. Another student, Saurabh Shrestha, scored some of the highest marks on his original science exam, and then couldn’t identify that H2O was water.

But not everyone is thrilled with the students’ public humiliation. In fact, one local minister, Upendra Kushwaha, said that if anyone’s to be punished it is those who allow the state’s poor educational infrastructure to continue to suffer.

“Why should the students be arrested and sent to jail for the fault of the system, teachers and parents?” he said to a group of journalists in the town of Gopalganj on Monday.

Photo Credit: STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images

Siobhán O’Grady is a freelance journalist working across sub-Saharan Africa. She previously worked as a staff writer at Foreign Policy. @siobhan_ogrady

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