10 million professional entrance exams, 130 million semester exams and 50 million Government/PSU recruitment exams: these are the number of exams that candidates appear for, in our country. Almost all of these exams are conducted in a traditional paper-pencil mode and the exam process relies solely on the signature of the candidate as a proof of identity, post facto. With the intense competition to get the right seat, the appropriate marks and the plum Government post, this process of authentication remains by far the weakest link of the paper-pencil exam process, providing an opportunity for thousands of impersonations to happen routinely. In the last year alone, a quick search on news articles of impersonation has thrown up over 125 cases that have been highlighted by the national media alone.
The current process of authentication in the traditional paper-pencil mode today is to match the facial features of the candidate with the photograph on the hall (admission) ticket, and to match the signature of the candidate that is on the hall-ticket with the one that the candidate signs on the attendance sheet. While there are several drawbacks of the photograph verification (old photos, smudged prints, etc.), this photo verification process by the invigilator is not recorded anywhere at all and hence the signature becomes the sole artifact of authentication once the examination is conducted.
MeritTrac Research team conducted an interesting experiment recently on the effectiveness of identifying forged signatures by experienced invigilators