With the cancellation of the APPSC 2017 Prelims examination held on 26th of November and the subsequent declaration of the Commission of intention of doing away with optional subjects in near future, there are many questions that has come in the forefront. Such as;
1. When will the Commission learn from its mistakes?
2. How far or near is the “in future” as recommended by the commission?
3. Is it fair to do away with optional subjects now when the aspirants for the current exam have already done considerable preparation for the same with many of these aspirants even taking coaching for their optional courses in many of the coaching centres that are sprouting left and right in the capital area?
4. Now that the Commission has recommended to the State Government for following the UPSC pattern in the Prelims, are we going to follow it till the Mains and have one optional subject instead of two as was the case earlier?
Firstly, on the question of Commission learning from its mistake, sadly, it looks like cancellation of exams are fast becoming the status quo. The same step of cancelling the exam was previously adopted when allegations were raised on leaking of question papers, which hardly feel us with confidence at the Commission. As the apex body, who are responsible for selecting the next generation of bureaucrats who are responsible for taking the state in the right direction, to see the Commission be accused of incompetence of such magnitude, it will be unfair on the candidates to give their best while preparing and see their efforts go to waste, not to mention the strained period (the story published in this paper of how an aspirant could not give time to his sick and bedridden father and instead prepared for the prelims and eventually lost his father. My sincere condolences to you) they go through during their preparation as well as the financial aspects of someone based out of state to come back and give the exam and these are only the tip of the iceberg! There are many untold sorrows and difficulties that these aspirants go through merely for the fact that someone who was put in charge of setting the question paper, was too lazy to give the bare minimum time and effort to set a legitimate papers which would have done justice to the hard work the serious aspirants have put in for the exam.
It will be unfair to ask the commission or the state government to compensate everyone who went through undeserved hardship but should not there be a mechanism in place to make the commission or the people responsible for such hardship to be held accountable? Especially since this was not a one off incident? And also considering the fact that there is no guarantee that such incidents will not occur in future again, why can’t we hold the people responsible for such acts accountable? At least, it will deter from such negligent acts from occurring in future and even if somehow someone manage to pull it off, there will be a mechanism in place to punish the future culprit.
The very date of 26th of November chosen for holding the exams was already marred with dissent among many of aspirants considering the fact that the date chosen was too close to the college and university exams. To say, “not my problem” is not a justification which is enough. Is it?
Secondly, in the notification that the Commission has come out with, they have “recommended to the State Government for doing away with the optional subjects in the future” (as appeared on this paper) which brings us the second issue how far or near is the “future” in this context? Will the Commission again announce the next date for the Prelims exam a month before and the new pattern of exams (which is in fact long overdue) and put everyone at a disadvantageous position? I am a firm believer in the idea of “equal opportunity” but I take them in a positive sense. If the Commission is to again abruptly decide on announcement of the date for prelims with a gap of only a month like they did last time (something that even UPSC does not do!), will it not leave everyone at a disadvantageous position? I hope the Commission does not see this as “even playing field”.
Thirdly, in continuance to the second question, what about the people who have already invested their time and money on preparing for the optional papers? The Commission/the paper setters are the guilty party here but why is that the aspirants are made to suffer? As already stated, sure the dropping of optional subjects from Prelims are a welcome change which will even the field out for aspirants but to change it abruptly will do more damage than to solve the issue in the immediate future. Thus, instead of bringing it right away, wouldn’t it be better if the changes were to bring out in a year or two? Almighty UPSC also seems to adopt this policy, shouldn’t our beloved APPSC also follow the same considering they recommended “to bring our exams in line with that of UPSC”?
Finally but definitely not the least, with the talk of doing away with optional subjects in the prelims to bring in line with the similar position that UPSC already has, will we also see two optional subjects, that we are supposed to pick for the Mains exam being also reduced to choosing only one? By doing so, APPSC will have less of workload than they already have and at which they have time and again proved themselves of being incapable of performing and also, for the aspirants, there will be lesser of load and pressure.
Finally, Dear Commission, your actions not only have consequences with regard to wasting our times and effort as well as your own time, your actions also break many a people’s hopes and their determination.
Here’s to a hope of a “reasonable” and “fair exam” in every sense.