Examination Mafia

Amid the on-going row over NEET irregularities, Tehelka SIT’s investigation into alleged malpractices in the FMGE exam reveals a widespread network that compromises the integrity of medical licensing in India.

The National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (Undergraduate) or NEET-UG, a crucial medical examination in India, has sparked anger, protests amid allegations of cheating after thousands of candidates secured unusually high marks in this year’s test. Conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA), a government organization, responsible for some of India’s largest exams, NEET-UG is taken by millions of students annually, though only a small percentage achieve scores high enough for admissions to the medical colleges. 

This year’s exam has come under scrutiny due to a range of issues — from errors in the question paper and improperly awarded grace marks (compensatory marks) to allegations of paper leaks and fraud. While NTA officials have denied any paper leaks, Bihar police have claimed that one of the aspirants has confirmed during the investigation that he traveled from Kota to Patna after being assured by a relative that he could obtain the NEET question paper in advance. According to the police, four aspirants gathered at a predetermined location the night before the examination to memorize answers from the leaked paper.

In the wake of the NEET controversy, Tehelka conducted an investigation into paper leak allegations surrounding another important examination—the Foreign Medical Graduates Examination (FMGE). The findings aligned with those of Bihar, indicating that the FMGE question papers were to be leaked a day before the exam, and aspirants were to gather at predetermined locations to memorize the answers. During the investigation, we encountered Rakesh Bhandari, a middleman from Delhi, who was prepared to assist us in getting our fictitious candidate to pass the FMGE. Interestingly, he sought to employ the same method mentioned earlier: leaking the paper a day before the exam.

‘We will obtain the question papers one day prior to the exam. The candidate will be taken to an undisclosed location and provided with both question papers the night before. Additionally, we will solve the question papers for the candidate, ensuring that he answers at least 150 questions – the minimum required to pass the exam. On the exam day, the candidate will be discreetly dropped off at the examination center. If the exam papers match the leaked ones, the candidate is obligated to pay Rs 15 lakh that evening. Remember, the candidate must surrender his mobile phone to us beforehand to prevent him from taking pictures of the leaked papers and sending them to friends, which could lead to the papers going viral on social media and getting us into trouble,” explained Bhandari.

It may be mentioned that existing regulations mandate that students who pursued medicine abroad must pass the Foreign Medical Graduate Examination (FMGE), held twice a year by the autonomous National Board of Examination (NBA). Successful candidates obtain provisional or permanent registration with the National Medical Commission (NMC) or State Medical Councils (SMCs), allowing them to practice medicine in India. Failure to pass renders their practice illegal.

Sikkim is the only state in India where another person can impersonate the genuine candidate and take the exam.But this is a risky thing. I don’t want to go for this option. If caught, our lives will be ruined,” adds Bhandari, whom our reporter met in a five-star hotel in Delhi, posing as a representative of candidate looking for a middleman who could help him clear the FMGE exam.

We told Rakesh Bhandari that our candidate is an MBBS graduate from Dhaka, Bangladesh, who failed the mandatory FMGE exam required to get a license from the NMC to practice in India on his first attempt. In response, Bhandari gave us three options to help our candidate pass the FMGE exam. The first option is through a question paper leak a day before the exam; the second by fudging computer records; and the third by ensuring the candidate passes even after failing—all options, of course, involving financial transactions. Payment for the first option is due on the exam day after verifying that the leaked question paper matches the actual exam, while payment for the second and third options is due after the results. Bhandari described having someone else take the exam on behalf of the genuine candidate as the riskiest option, which he was unwilling to attempt. According to him, the best option is the question paper leak.

Every year, thousands of Indians with medical degrees from foreign universities appear for the FMGE, a screening test conducted by the National Board of Examination (NBE) and mandated by the National Medical Commission (previously the Medical Council of India) to qualify for practice in their own country. On average, less than 20 percent of them are able to clear it, according to NBE data. Foreign medical graduates from countries like Russia, Ukraine, China, the Philippines, Bangladesh, and Nepal, among others, are allowed to practice in India only after clearing the FMGE. However, MBBS graduates from the US, UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand do not need to take the exam. In 2019, 25.79 percent of foreign graduates cleared the FMGE, while the percentage was 14.68 in 2020 and 23.83 in 2021. The figures in years preceding 2019 were even lower. So, what do the nearly 80 percent of graduates do after failing to clear this test? While some give up on their dream to pursue medicine and adopt a different career path, some practice illegally in India without clearing the FMGE. Others persist in their attempts to pass, especially since there is no cap on the number of attempts for the biannual FMGE.

As part of Tehelka’s investigation into the alleged shenanigans surrounding the FMGE exam, we met with middleman Rakesh Bhandari, who confessed to helping a Kashmiri foreign MBBS graduate clear the FMGE through illegal means after multiple failed attempts. Bhandari revealed that he took Rs 20 lakh from the candidate to help him clear the exam.

Bhandari….Ek to khas aadmi hai… 4-5 chance mein pass hi nahi ho raha.

Reporter….. FMG mein?

Bhandari….. Haan..usko phir ek jhatkey mein karwaya mainey pichley saal.

Reporter…. Aapney karwaya FMG mein pass?

Bhandari…. Haan… abhi shadi ki usne, mujhe shadi mein dawat bhi na di, mujhe khundak aagayi itni….parson pata chala uski shadi bhi ho gayi.

Reporter…. Kitna paisa liya aapney ussey.?

Bhandari….Rate to dekho depend karta hai, agar direct aa gaya to 20 lakh bhi letey hain.

Reporter….Option kaunsa tha uska pass honey ka.?

Bhandari…. Sari cheezen nahi batatey, pata hai kya hota hai ye secrecy wala kaam hai. Aap kitney dino se phone kar rahe ho milne k liye, mainey aapse kya kaha.. time nahi hai…kyunki actually kya hota hai hamarey pass ek ki jagah 10 aadmi khadey hotey hai.

[While admitting to helping a Kashmiri foreign graduate pass the FMGE through illegal means, Bhandari revealed that secrecy and significant sums are involved in the process. This brings to the fore the depth of corruption in the examination system.]

We presented a fictitious deal to Bhandari, stating we had a candidate who had completed an MBBS in Dhaka, Bangladesh, but failed the FMGE on the first attempt. Bhandari immediately assured us he could leak the question paper the night before the exam, have his team solve it, and drop the candidate at the exam centre the next day. If the leaked paper matched the exam paper, the candidate would need to pay Rs 15 lakh that same evening. He emphasized the importance of securing the candidate’s mobile phone to prevent him from sharing the leaked paper, which could jeopardize the entire operation. Bhandari detailed the meticulous process and security measures involved, highlighting the sophisticated nature of his cheating network.

Bhandari…..Aap samjhey nahi meri baat, question paper ka aisa hota hai, usmein mere ko bhi nahi pata hoga kab kis location par bhej raha hoga wo, secret hota hai, iski talashi 2 jagah karega. Koi mobile to nahi, koi paper to nahi hai iske pas..

Reporter…. Jab ye exam dene jayega?

Bhandari…. Haan, ussey pehle, kyunki ek din pehle mil ke jayega, jaantey to hain nahi isko, matlab agar iskey pass mobile ho, ye photo kheechkar 10 logon ko bhej dega. Viral ho gaya.. to phas gaye na wo, wo kya kaam kartey hain, din mein bulayenge isko, 11 baje bulayenge, ek jagah bulayengey.. suppose karo yahan bula liya, yahan se apni gadi mein le jayengey, wo hamari responsibility rahegi, yahan se leker doosri jagah le jayengey, doosri jagah se teesria jagah le jayengey, sham ko paper kahin aur hoga.

Reporter….. Sham ko paper.?

Bhandari…..Sham ko paper dikha dengey usko, raat mein study karwa dengey usko, ek ghantey mein thodi ho payega, phir 4-5 baje tak isko karwakey subah seedhey centre par isko 8 baje paune 8 baje pahucha denge.

Bhandari (continues)…. Aur exam centre jahan par bhi hoga, kyunki iskey pass mobile nahi hoga, chodhney to jayenge, leney to koi nahi jayega isko, ek ghantey ka gap hoga, 2 paper hotey hain na, ek paper 8-9 baje se 12 baje tak.

Reporter….Aur doosra?

Bhandari…. Doosra ek ghantey k gap k baad hoga

Reporter…. To ye dono paper usey de dengey ek raat pehley hi ?

Bhandari…. Karwa dengey solve…koi 150 questions karwa dengey…paper match ho gaya, jaisey bachey ne kar liya, paper to wahi aa gaya na, to bachey ko aaram aaram se karna hai, koi hadbadi nahi karni hai.

Reporter….Examination centre mein.?

Bhandari…. Examination centre se pehle, paper to 10-15 min pehle mil jayega na, taki bhool na jaye.. exam de diya aaram se.. sham ko to match ho hi jayega…sham ko payment kar diya.

Reporter…. Sham ko?

Bhandari… Payment karni hai.

Reporter…. Aap jo ek ghantey ka gap bata rahe ho dono exams k beech mein, us ek ghantey mein isko kisi se baat nahi karni ?

Bhandari…. Naa… kyunki dosre ko bata diya isne.. ye aayega wo ayega, phasney wala kaam kyun karein?

Reporter…. Sham ko payment kar deni hai.?  Lekin aap to keh rahe they payment hoga pass honey k baad.?

Bhandari…. Pass to ho hi gaya na wo, hamney to paper dikhaya, doosre din de di payment.

Reporter…. Aur result kab tak aata hai iska ?

Bhandari….10-15 din mein.

[Bhandari outlined his method of leaking FMGE question papers and solving them for candidates, emphasizing secrecy and security. His fee for each candidate is Rs 15 lakh. The conversation shows that the operation is highly organized and covert, posing significant challenges to exam’s integrity.]

Bhandari disclosed that he offers three pathways for candidates to pass the FMGE by making financial payments. The first is a paper leak; the second involves tampering with the server; and the third guarantees passing for failed candidates. He explained the paper leak method earlier and now elaborated on the other two options to our reporter, highlighting the manipulation of results and the significant amounts of money involved in these operations.

Reporter… Doosre option mein aap kya bata rahe they? Server mein kuch kartey hain ?

Bhandari…. Server ka bhi khel hota hai..teesra option hai fail bhi ho gaya to pass ho jayega!

Reporter… Wo kaisey?

Bhandari…. Aapko pata hai kitney bachey pass hotey hain kul.. 2500.

Reporter… FMG mein?.. aur bethtey kitney hain.?

Bhandari… 20,000, 17,000..aur 2000-2500 pass hotey hain maximum.

Reporter…Baithtey kitney hain,?

Bhandari….17, 18K aur 2500-3000 maximum pass hotey hain. 10% 8% reh jatey hain…baki 200-400 bachey to aisey hi nikal detey hain….kyunki ismein evaluation kuch nahi hai na. Mota paisa khatey hain wo. Passing certificate de diya kat kat ke..

Reporter…. Lekin usmein bhi ladka exam mein baithta hai..?

Bhandari…Exam mein kahin bhi ho..main kya hai passing subject…wo last ka khel hota hai.

Reporter… Usmein kitna paisa lagta hai.?

Bhandari… End ka khel hota hai, usmein 15 lakh bhi lagtey hain, 10 lakh bhi.

Reporter… Lekin exam mein bacha baithta hai usmein..?

Bhandari… Exam to wo dega.

Reporter…. Teeno options mein exam dena hai.?

Bhandari….Exam to dena hi dena hai, exam k bina kaisey hoga?

[Bhandari revealed three methods—paper leak, server manipulation, and bribery—for candidates to pass the FMGE with all of them involving financial transaction. He admitted to exploiting loopholes in the system, emphasizing the pervasive corruption undermining exam integrity.]

When asked whether someone else would take the FMGE exam on behalf of our candidate or if the candidate himself would have to appear, Bhandari explained that only in Sikkim can one take the exam impersonating another person. However, he highlighted the high risk involved and preferred not to undertake such ventures. For him, the safest and best option remained the paper leak.

Reporter….Ab aap mujhe ye batao, ladka ye pooch raha tha usko exam dene jana padega ya uski jagah koi aur dega exam FMG ka ?

Bhandari….Dekho saab.. exam dena padega, sirf ek hi centre hai aisa hai, jahan doosra aadmi beith sakta hai.

Reporter… Wo kahan hai.?

Bhandari… Wo hai Sikkim mein, usmein problem kya hai, usmein hamey drawbacks bhi dekhney hongey, waisey drawback mein main kaam karta hi nahi hoon, kismet kharab ho..phas gaya to zindagi barbaad ho jayegi.


Bhandari…. Risky kaam hai, iska kaam sham ko hi pata chalega isko,..ek din pehley ya to.

Reporter…. Jaisey kal exam hai FMG ka?

Bhandari…Raat mein hi lengey, din mein mobile le lenge, mobile nahi hoga.

Reporter… Ussey ek din pehley ladke ko question paper mil jayega?

Bhandari…Usko de jayengey wo rakh lega apney pass.

[Bhandari advised us not to go for impersonation method to clear FMGE exam as he cited severe risks and potential life-ruining consequences if caught. He stressed his preference for the safer option of a paper leak, highlighting the rampant corruption and loopholes in exam processes.]

Bhandari assured us that he would arrange the leaked paper a day before the FMGE exam, allowing the candidate to review it and prepare accordingly. Moreover, even if the leaked paper matches the actual exam but the candidate still fails, they would only be liable for half of the agreed amount, 7.5 lakh out of 15 lakh

Reporter… Ek option to aapney bata diya FMG exam ka aur doosra kya hai?

Bhandari… Doosra option bhi hota hai par dekho ye sabse sateek hota hai, sateek pata hai kaise?…apko paper dikha diya, answer de diye, 200 de diye, uskey baad bhi nahi aayega to aisey doctor banney ka kya fayda. Aur uskey baad bhi fail ho jaye to aadha paisa to dena hi padega…apni to koi galti hai hi nahi.

Reporter…. Aapney to question paper dikha diya.

Bhandari… Dikha diya ab tum yaad hi na karo, samajh lo tu doctor banney k layek hai hi nahi….hahaha ..tere ko kuch bhi nahi aata, jab tere ko answer de diya aur 8 ghantey mein padha bhi diya usko, tab bhi nahi aayega to phir..

Reporter…Fail ho gaya tab bhi 50% dena padega?

Bhandari…. Dena padega, wo chodega thodi..jab sab match ho gaya hai.

Reporter… Matlab 15 lakh ka 7.50.?

[In the conversation, Bhandari detailed his method of ensuring FMGE success through leaked papers, with a contingency for partial payment if the candidate fails despite the leak. This reveals the intricate yet unethical methods some people exploit for exam success, highlighting the risks and moral dilemmas involved.]

After speaking with Bhandari, we encountered a foreign medical graduate from Dhaka, Bangladesh. Initially claiming to have cleared the FMGE exam, he later admitted failing the screening test required to practice in India. He had worked in a hospital for a few months without the necessary license from the NMC, endangering human lives. Currently seeking a new job in Delhi, he was also on the lookout for a middleman like Bhandari who could help him pass the FMGE. We met Siraj (name changed), the candidate from Kashmir, at a five-star hotel in Delhi. Siraj agreed to pay Rs 15 lakh to the middleman for the leaked exam paper.

Reporter…. Agar ek din pehle question paper de deta hai apko FMG exam ka pass karney ka to wo aap kar logey.?

Siraj… Usmein ek cheez aapko mil jayegi, padh lunga mein, usmein zyada confidence hain na…

Reporter… Solve aap thodi na karogey. Solve to koi aur karega na?

Siraj… Wahi mein bol raha hoon, solve karke mujhe ye pata hoga na ki mainey ye paper rata hai. Wahan bas chaapna hai.. confidence hota hai na,..ab ye log keh rahe hain ki nahi karengey, kya matlab, nahi ho paya phir. Pachtaogey phir issey acha to mainey padha hota…?

Reporter… Paisey k liye aap comfortable hain…15 lakh.?

Siraj…. 15 lakh ka masla nahi hai, masla ye hai ki agar paper mujhe ek din pehle dega na, 200 sawal hi de de bas, mein Chandigarh raat ko hi niklunga. Main rastey mein padhunga..

Reporter… Wo bhi aap solve nahi karogey question paper, koi aur karega.

Siraj…haan haan..

[Siraj’s attempt to clear the FMGE exam through illegal means reflects the widespread desperation among foreign graduates navigating stringent licensure exams in India. This situation highlights the precarious choices that foreign medical graduates face, balancing career aspirations with ethical and legal challenges when pursuing medicine in India.]

The National Testing Agency finds itself amidst yet another controversy with ongoing scrutiny over NEET irregularities, a case currently under review in the Supreme Court. Adding to this, the Education Ministry recently canceled the UGC-NET examination following concerns raised by the Ministry of Home Affairs about compromised exam integrity. Amidst these unfolding issues, Tehelka’s investigation into the Examination Mafia sheds light on the pervasive challenges undermining the credibility of national exams. By exposing the intricate web of malpractice facilitated by middlemen like Rakesh Bhandari, this report aims to highlight those exploiting loopholes in the system and trigger debate on the necessity of systemic reforms to safeguard the integrity of future examinations