Ghost writing thrives in the Indian Education system


By

Dr. Sarveshwar Pande
Asst. Professor
Amity University
Lucknow
 


Phantom writing flourishes in the Indian education system. Students at all levels get their assignments, research papers, essays, term papers, lab reports, critiques, dissertation and even (MA & PhD) thesis written by elder siblings, friends, neighbors, parents and even by faculties as well. Majority students everywhere from high school, colleges and universities are willing to pay truck loads of cash to get someone to write papers or complete partial or whole coursework for them whilst they may engage several hours in meaningless activities of complete irrelevance – in short the quality and excellence of higher education has already begun to take a tough beating, and authorities have not shown a concerned approach about the downward leap in the quality of higher education.

As a conventional remunerated academic phantom writer, the following account is a graphic description of how inestimable students really bamboozle under the nose of their professors who knowingly, but, do absolutely nothing about it. What actually we have is the nation churning out vast number of masters and PhD holders who could not even carry the `weight of their text books let alone the responsibility of being an expert in their chosen specialization'.

The request for completion of wholesome assignments, essays, project plans, synopsis, executive summaries, research papers and articles come in thousands and various online helpers have emerged vowing to do these assignments just for a modest premium. One request came from a PG student by email around eight pm in the night. It was a previous customer whom I had helped on numerous occasions whilst she was in high school, also during her graduation days and now in her PG. The email read, `You did me business ethics poroposal for me…I needed poroposal the need to get approved pls you can write for me paper fatafat?' I had now become pretty good at interpreting this kind of correspondence. The client had attached a document from her professor with details about the paper. She needed the first draft in a week. Eighty pages….no sweat... I assured her no problem. 

In the past few years, I have written close to 8,000 pages of scholarly literature, most on extremely tight deadlines. I have written towards masters in cognitive psychology, a PhD in sociology and a handful of postgraduate credits in international diplomacy. I have written numerous papers on bachelor's degrees in hospitality administration and finance, business administration, accounting, economics, management, business finance. I have written for courses in history, cinema, labor relations, psychology, education, sports, aviation, sustainability, municipal budgeting, marketing, philosophy, ethics, and fraud. I have completed 8 post graduate theses of 150 pages or more. In all, you won't find my name on a single paper.

My best friend is my laptop and the vast search engines which keep me going like those swis clockworks. Online companies seek my services for which they pay in dollars, this I contribute well towards India's forex reserves. In the midst of this great recession, business has been always booming. During midterms and finals, there is huge demand for academic write ups.

One cannot help been amazed by the sheer incompetence of `college' and `university level' writing. I have seen the word desperate misspelt every way you can imagine. These students truly are desperados. Many couldn't write a convincing grocery list, yet they have been blessed with admission status as post graduate students. They needed special help in `Learning how to learn' and, separately, they also needed help in `passing their courses' 9/10 Indian students' need constant mothering and are spoonfed right from early childhood, then when they enter schools, especially private schools, they are mothered else parents complain about teachers who are unmotherly towards their children. As these children attempt graduation, by now they know their strong and their faculties weak `attributes' and begin capitalizing on it.

Surprisingly , many students just coast their way in graduation. Upon entering post graduate studies, now these very students who had never stayed up late nights to write  a term paper but continue to do so in replying to friends on Facebook now seem to have found a much easier way to get someone else to do their work, all for a fee. Fortunately, I live very well on the desperation, misery and incompetence this country's educational system has created. As economists often say, `it's all because of supply and demand.

There is very little (or hardly any) importance given to the issue of cheating of students at an epidemic level and how hardly anything is done to avoid academic plagiarism or most commonly why do students cheat in the first place. The print media looks at only one side of the story by glorifying students' who had achieved success in board exams, but ho many could vouch for `having failed with honor rather then passing with disgrace!'. This paper attempts to initiate such a conversation and as for me, I'm planning to retire. I'm tired of helping make `silly' students look amazingly competent.

From my experience, three demographic groups seek out my or other like-minded and abled service providers: the English –as-second language students(ESL), the hopelessly and/or pathetically deficient and the lazy rich kid, who religiously believes or have been led to believe that money can buy almost anything. For the last, colleges and universities are a perfect launching ground – they are built to reward the rich and to forgive them their laziness. Frankly speaking, the successful amongst us are not always the best and the brightest and certainly not the most ethical.  While the deficient student will generally not know how to ask for what he wants until he doesn't get it, the lazy rich student on the contrary would know exactly what he wants.

He is poised for the life of paying others and telling them what to do. Indeed, he has acquired all the skills he needed to stay on the top. As for the first two types of students – the ESL and the  hopelessly deficient – colleges are utterly failing them . Foreign students who study in Australia, Canada, United Kingdom and United States universities find that their efforts to learn a new language is confounded not only by cultural difficulties but also by the pressures of grading. The focus on evaluation rather then education means that those who haven't mastered English must do so quickly or suffer the consequences. This is the stage where I make my entry – whereby my `fool-proof' services provides a particularly quick way to `master' English. On the contrary those who are hopelessly deficient struggle with communication in general.

In India, this shady business thrives blatantly in the open and even a couple of metres away from the university, or in the case of countless UP colleges, within its premises. I was once at a photocopy centre near Hazratganj in Lucknow when three university students got off  their bikes and spoke in Hindi to the shop owner. ` Mera thesis ho gaya kya?' he asked oblivious of those standing nearby. `Is my thesis done?'as an academic it disturbed me quite a bit. It was pretty obvious that this student was not there to enquire whether the printing of his hard work has reached the pinnacle but to get a easy way out and have the services of a ghost writer do the dirty work for him.

Innumerable scholars are known to get their academic work done by  outsourcing and paying either with money or any other means as the need may be for the desperate student. This photocopy shop is the agent for various ghost writers who write for lazy students their class assignments, record books, journals, research papers, essays, presentation slides on PPTs, working papers, essays, resumes, lab reports, even post graduate theses.

One cannot help ponder why does such a shady business thrive with impunity? The answer is very simple. It's all related to supply and demand factors. There is a huge demand for work to be done by students (a market which would never cease and the supply of `ghostwriters' are also increasing or rather to a certain level. In fact ghostwriting isn't a crime, not even in the press or in book publishing. That feeling extends to academia, where I don't think it's quite the same. Students who employ writers are often those who attach no importance to their assignments until the deadlines are perilously close. Payment could between Rs2-3 per page depending on the work required per page. All this for a job that requires no skills or knowledge of the subject except copying from the write-ups supplied by our professor into the record books.

All what was required by the ghostwriter was to obtain the content , no thought or research was necessary. The whole education system in India resort to corrupt and adulterated practice most committed by 95% of students from lower standard to higher standard institutions without any prejudice. I have seen 6th standard kids  who come along with their parents and pick sample projects, like the model of a volcano, or bulbs that light up when switched on, which are then prepared exactly after an order is placed and paid for, or for a fee and submitting them back after they had been hired. It's not difficult to see such a `too-fine project'. The shops which sell or mostly hire them, resell or rehire them to other students and the silly teachers either know or are ignorant of such factors as most or nearly all do the same for their own children..

I shared the story and practices of students who use corrupt practices and he shook his head and stated that the fault often lies in a system and the Indian education system is (prachinkaal)- ancient, that makes teachers assign projects that don't interest a child. One good thing is that the internet has also come to the rescue. As a writer for web content, I can tell you there's an entire industry out there in the virtual world that has ghost writers churning out essays, projects and presentations for school and university work. Funnily in India, with due respect to a few who had been serious researchers, almost everyone walks around with a Phd and gold medals can be bought from the gold market without any hiccups. These very individuals may not have a command over their subject but having a gift-of-the-gab keeps them occupied.. Its not surprising that PhD scholars form a major chunk of the academic ghostwriters clientele.

The chief reason is a lackluster research atmosphere that fails to ignite any real interest or passion. On the contrary it could also be that, even if he or she is in the liberal arts, the scholar's English is'nt good. In an education system which does little by way of developing a research atmosphere and mindset among students, where funds are rarely or only used to strengthen institutional infrastructure and subversion of procedural lapses are a norm plagiarism and unethical research practices becomes a direct outcome of systematic failure, but despite all these, policy makers haven't as yet awoken as to how does the system nonchalantly encourages academic dishonesty.

The entire process of submitting assignments is often a formality merely, because they form part of the minimum requirement  prescribed by universities and colleges. As far as the professors  are concerned, majority can certainly live without having to actually evaluate a big bunch of papers, so they hardly read anything and give a blanket mark. Not surprisingly every student is aware of this right from primary school and are only too glad at not putting in the necessary hours having to work hard over them. Laziness coupled with the futility of the entire exercise makes outsourcing a viable option.

It was true. At this point , there are few academic challenges that I find intimidating. Customers' orders are endlessly different yet strangely all the same. No matter what the subject, clients wants to be assured that their assignment is always in capable hands. It would be terrible to think that your Ivy league graduate thesis was riding on the work ethic and perspicacity of a public university blugger. So part of my job is to be whatever my clients want me to be. I say `yes' when I am asked if I have a PhD in sociology. I say `yes' when I am asked if I have professional training in industrial /organizational psychology. I even say `yes' when asked if I have ever designed a perpetual –motion powered time machine and documented my efforts in a peer-reviewed journal.

I have completed countless courses at dozens of online universities. Students have even provided me with passwords and user names so that I could access key documents and exams. In certain instances, for a group of PhD students, I had even contributed to weekly online discussions with their academic guides/other PhD students in academic forum. In India, I have become a `Grand master' of the admissions essay for both undergraduate and graduate programs. I can explain effortlessly why you're IIM material, why the Wharton MBA program would benefit from your presence, how certain life experiences have prepared you for the rigors of your chosen course of study.

I have done a lot of work for seminary students. I have a particular liking for seminary students as they seem so blissfully unaware of the inherent contradiction in paying somebody to help them cheat  in course that are largely about walking in the light of God and providing an ethical model for others to follow. I have been commissioned to write many a passionate condemnation of our moral decay as exemplified  by abortions, gays and lesbian marriages, or the teaching of evolution. All in all , we may presume that clerical authorities see these as a greater threat than the plagiarism committed by the future frocked..

With respect to American/British and Indian nurses, fear not. Our lives are in capable hands – `just hands' that cannot write a thing. Nursing students also account for 1/3 of the customer base. I have written case-management plans, report on nursing ethics and essays on why nurse-practitioners are lighting the way to the future of medicine. I've written pharmaceutical treatment courses for patients who I pray were hypothetical.

Who am I? I , who have no name, no opinions, and no style, have written so many papers, including legal briefs, military strategy assessment, poems, lab reports, and, yes, even papers on academic integrity, that its hard to determine which is most infested with cheating. I have written papers for students in elementary education programs and made lesson plans for aspirant school teachers, essays for those studying to become school administrators and theses for those on course to become principals. In the enormous conspiracy that is student cheating, the frontline intelligence community is infiltrated by double agents.

Whenever I take on a large assignment, my body says: Are you sure you want to do this again? You should know that for the 48 hours you dedicate to writing this paper, you will cease all human functions but typing, you will Google until the term has lost all meaning, and you will drink enough coffee to fuel a revolution in a small country. Its not implausible to write a 75 page paper in two days, buts its just miserable. When I get cranking, I can churn out four or five pages an hour. First I lay out the sections of an assignment – introduction, problem statement, methodology, literature review, findings, conclusions, annexures,  bibiliography. Then I start Googling. I haven't been to any libraries since I started doing this job. Amazon.com is quite generous about free samples.

If I can find a single page from a particular text, I can cobble that into a report, deducing what I don't know from the customer reviews and publisher blogs.. Google scholar is a great source providing  the `abstract' of nearly any journal article. And of course there is Wikipedia, which is often my first stop. Naturally one must verify such material, but I've taken hundreds of crash courses this way.. After I've gathered my sources, I pull out usable quotes, cite them, and distribute them among the sections of the assignments. Just give me one phrase of quotable text, and I'll produce two pages of ponderous explanations. I can say in ten pages what most normal people could attempt to say in one paragraph.. I don't edit my assignments. That way I getfewer customer requests to trim it down.

Whilst studying, I used to study late and spent hours working on my assignments and essays. Then a funny thing happened. My classmates saw my abilities and my abundances of free time. They saw a value that the university did not. It turned out that countless lazy, pill popping beer guzzling classmates were thrilled to pay me to write their papers. And I was even more thrilled to take their money.

I never had clients winge that the originality of his work had been questioned, and that ever any disciplinary action had been taken. As far as I know, not one of my customers have been caught. The main reasons are : (1) students cram all or part of the necessary materials in the work presented by me and dazzle their professors. (2) Professors know that something is not right but they do not question further or try to corner the student in admitting that the work presented by the student is anything but original. (3) professors blindly approve the projects without ever bothering about the quality, content and originality but just have to pass the students.

The 75 page paper on business ethics ultimately expnded into a 160 page post graduate thesis, every word written by me. I cant remember the name of my client buts its her name on `my work'. In the end , lets pause for a minute and reflect on what are we encouraging here? For a nation that has been struggling for centuries and has been rocked  by shameful and sorry scams, all this amounts to sowing the seeds of corruption amongst our younger citizens. So you can imagine my excitement when I received the good news from my client: `thanks so much for uhelp, ican going to graduate to now sir ji'.
 


Dr. Sarveshwar Pande
Asst. Professor
Amity University
Lucknow
 

Source: E-mail May 31, 2012

          

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