These days, nothing can escape the scrutiny of people, even the exam questions. From language to inherent sexism and political motivation, here’s a few instances when exam bodies were in trouble for asking controversial questions.

1. The English paper of Class 10 CBSE exam had a comprehension passage with sentences such as “emancipation of women destroyed the parents’ authority over the children”.

This is what the ending paragraph of the comprehension passage read:

What people were slow to observe was that the emancipation of the wife destroyed the parent’s authority over the children. The mother did not exemplify the obedience upon which she still tried to insist… In bringing the man down from his pedestal the wife and the mother deprived herself, in fact of the means of discipline.

The passage was called out for being offensive to women.

Following widespread criticism, CBSE decided to drop the question and award full marks to all students.

2. Another question asked in CBSE class 12 Sociology exam asked students to name the political party under which the Gujarat riots of 2002 took place.

Following criticism, the board issued an apology and promised that strict action will be taken against those responsible.

3. In 2019, UPSC was criticised for asking a question on the ‘challenges to our cultural practices in the name of secularism’.

The question appeared in General Studies I paper of Civil Services Mains exam.

What are the challenges to our cultural practices in the name of secularism?

4. A question in a Kerala state literacy exam asked ‘if minorities a threat to the unity and integrity of the country’.

The question occurred in state literacy mission’s second year Higher Secondary equivalency exam for Sociology.

Are minorities a threat to the unity and integrity of the country? Explain.

5. An exam to recruit sub-inspectors for Haryana Police asked questions on personal lives of political leaders.

For instance, there was a question: What is the best quality of minister Anil Vij? The answer options were, Vij is highly educated, he has been a home minister before, he is unmarried or he has served as a police officer.

6. A question in the reasoning part of Paper I of UGC NET drew controversy for trivialising untouchability.

A lot of effort goes into formulating exam papers but even then such controversies rise time and again.