Govt exam asks ,”Which actress is tallest?”…


KOCHI: I was a focused three-quarters of the way into the Combined Graduate Level Exam conducted by the Staff Selection Commission (SSC) on Sunday when I was distracted by this gem:

Q: Who among the following actresses is the tallest in height [sic]?

A: (a) Huma Qureshi (b) Katrina Kaif (c) Deepika Padukone (d) Preity Zinta

Well, I ruled out Preity right away but the remaining three posed a problem. Maybe the guys answering the test, with a keener eye for vital stats, had a better chance of answering the question but I, for one, was ruing the fact I didn’t watch the bikini scenes — remember that paparazzi photo of Katrina and actor Ranbir Kapoor on a beach holiday — more closely. Bare feet, unlike stilettos, hardly lie.

Anyway, I finally ticked (c) Deepika Padukone as the tallest of the four ladies, though I did tiptoe for a moment thinking of Huma. The moment of truth, of course, came after the test.

I love my Bollywood but my feminist sensibilities — not always on a sure footing, I must admit — were ruffled: how could an all-India examination, attempted by about 10 lakh people and purportedly meant to create efficient public servants, be judged on the basis of such trivia? As a proud, self-respecting south Indian woman, I am neither size zero nor a walking advertisement for Fair & Lovely and that added to the insult.

What took the cake, however, was the question that appeared in the General Intelligence and Reasoning section. Two statements were given. First: All women are cats. Second: All cats are rats. Therefore the two possible conclusions are: (a) All women are rats or (b) All rats are women.

There is a fine difference between the two but neither is exactly complimentary to women.

“Comparing women to animals is unjustifiable,” said Kerala Women’s Commission chairperson KC Rosakkutty. “It is like defaming women. Such trends should not be entertained when lots of other fair choices are available.”

Well-known educationist RVG Menon agreed. “Questions on film and sports are common in competitive exams,” Menon said. “But the particular questions reflect the attitude and standards of those who framed the question. There are lots of other examples one can give. Such kind of statements should not be used. It is an unhealthy trend.”

But Kerala PSC chairman K S Radhakrishnan defended the ‘rat’ question. “It is the best example to check the candidate’s logical reasoning ability,” he said. “It has nothing to do with the gender sensitivity of the person who prepared the question. Such questions are generally directly taken from textbooks on logical fallacy.”

Really? Logical fallacy notwithstanding, to me it smacks of good, old misogyny. Do men ever learn!

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