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Monday, Oct 12, 2020 23:15 [IST]

Last Update: Monday, Oct 12, 2020 17:40 [IST]

Conundrum of selection for public services

BHAGWAN SHANKAR, IAS
It is a very common sight  to notice while travelling to any place in India that a number of hoardings advertise about coaching facilities available in cities and small towns  for getting selected in public (Government) services and for admission to professional colleges ,viz, Engineering, Medicines, Law, Management, etc. A random  google search to understand the business of this industry  revealed that  it’s  a  40 billion  dollar (Rs 2.39 Trillion ) industry with CAGR(cumulative annual growth rate of 35% going by the  ASSOCHAM  2015 figures .  In contrast, having traveled   around the world, I have hardly come across this sort of organized business in the developed world albeit individual coaches for different subjects in schools/colleges/universities.

Undoubtedly, this entire business is flourishing by contribution from the students/aspirants who take recourse to these coaching centers/institutes. The number of such candidates in  our country  runs in millions ;and ,therefore, the turnover would naturally be in billions. For example, to select roughly 1000 candidates by the UPSC in Civil Service each year, there are about 8 lakhs to 10 lakhs candidates who write the preliminary test. On random basis, a candidate taking coaching for Civil Services   would spend anywhere between Rs 50,000 to 5 lakhs every year. One can very well work out the amount of money involved in this business.

Majority of candidates taking coaching are from middle and lower income group families which means a huge drain of financial resources for such families. Apart from the huge financial loss every year   , one can see colossal loss of youth   energy being wasted out as a very large number of candidates who go to such institutions remain unselected for many years as number of vacancies   remain minuscule as compared to the number of aspirants.

The moot question is : Is there no better way of selecting some  1000 odd candidates for Civil Service, for an example, every year than continuing with the drudgery for the students for years and wastage/drain of huge financial resources for the middle class/lower middle class families?? Obviously, there must be some solution to the problem which will ensure a simpler and least costly process of selection.

Taking cue from my Engineering( College ) days wherein for admission in M. Tech program after graduation, a Common Entrance Test-Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) was started in year 1984 for all graduate Engineers who wanted to pursue M. Tech. programme. One of the best (Top) Engineering College/Institute conducted this examination and the admission for M. Tech in various Engineering Colleges in the country became absolutely smooth, ie, based on one’s PERCENTILE score and availability of seats in a college/university, one could get admission hassle free.  There was no role of any coaching institute whatsoever for admission to the M. Tech program.

The solution to the flagged   issue can be found from above example. One can   apply the same principle of   “PERCENTILE”   with some modifications as felt necessary for admission to all the professional Colleges and Universities and same can even be applied    for   recruitment   to various Government services. It is presumed that only consistently meritorious candidates are selected through the competitive examination system.

It is possible that while awarding graduation degrees to the students by various universities, each student can also be awarded his percentile score in his/her subject of study (for example, Political Science, Sociology, Engineering, Management, etc.)  Category wise (General, OBC, ST/SC). Same principle can  also be applied to students passing out at Class XII level with State Boards, CBSE, ICSE, etc. awarding  every student a  marksheet as also percentile score categorywise (ST/SC/OBC/General) in his/her stream (science, commerce, humanities) of study  

While seeking admission ,for example, after Class XII in various professional colleges, it can be prescribed that those students whose percentile score is ,say, above 90% (can be varied depending on situation) in their category(General, OBC, SC/ST) only are eligible to write the Entrance Test for admission in various professional colleges. The test for the admission to professional colleges may consist of two parts:- Firstly, written examination (simple test…subjective/ objective type with no negative marks) carrying 80% marks followed by an interview/viva voce carrying 20% marks for a small number (2-3 times of the seat availability) of candidates.   

In a similar process, for selection to Government services, the recruitment agencies, eg, Union Public Service Commission, State Civil Service Commission and other subordinate bodies may consider following the similar principle as enunciated above. Here also, the candidates/aspirants who have scored their percentile in the subject at the graduation level in their own category (General, OBC, ST/SC) more than, say, 90% would be eligible to write the test/examination. However, the Percentile cut off can be changed by the recruitment agencies depending on their requirement for various exams/services. The selection process may consist of two parts - written examination (80% marks) through a simple   test (subjective /objective paper with no negative marking) and interview (20% marks).


The recruitment agencies can also guide the students/aspirants through online lessons/videos about the syllabi of the tests and sample papers content of which should not be much different from what is generally taught in colleges and universities.

It is heartening   to know that Central Government has come out with NRA (National Recruitment Agency) for selection to Group B and Group C services. We   hope that NRA’s procedure would be such that candidates do not resort to coaching institutes. Depending on NRA score, the recruitment can happen in a simple and transparent manner.

This initiative would be a major reform in the field of education which will bring faith in the merit based selection, improve education at School, College and Universities level as also free these sectors from multifaceted corruption and obviating the need of coaching institutes resulting in saving of billions of hard earned money of the middle and lower middle class families; and, last but not the least, saving youth power of the country which is languishing while preparing for a number of years while living, very often, in miserable conditions   in the cities and small towns of the country.
(bhagwan.shankar1@gmail.com)
 

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi