Post prelims controversies, APPSC readies for mains

[ Nellie N Manpoong ]
ITANAGAR, Aug 6: The Arunachal Pradesh Public Service Commission (APPSC) declared the results of the preliminaries of the Arunachal Pradesh Public Service Combined Competitive Examination (APPSCCE) on 2 August, and there was a collective sigh of relief after a tiresome wait of eight months.
While we have followed up on the controversies related to the APPSCCE for years now, the very recent exam – which this reporter had been following for the past eight months – had its share of controversies, as well.
This daily had started receiving letters from candidates much before the first preliminary exam date was announced for 26 November, 2017. The candidates had issues that varied from subject to subject.
This year, after the results were declared on 2 August, many lauded the APPSC for taking a stand and announcing the results early despite objections by some commerce, civil engineering and geography candidates.
Others criticized it, saying that the decision was arbitrary. They were of the opinion that the issues raised by the commerce, civil engineering and geography candidates this time were more or less similar to those raised by the public administration and sociology candidates in November last year, and should have been considered.
When the first preliminary exam was held on 26 November, 2017, candidates, particularly for the public administration and sociology papers, created a furore.
According to them, the public administration paper had 32 questions from outside the syllabus, along with several errors.
Animal husbandry & veterinary science candidates claimed that over 60 questions were from outside the syllabus and copied from the book ‘Vetscan’, along with over 20 spelling errors – just as they had been printed in the book.
There were a total of 23 errors in the sociology paper, with similar issues of copying questions from an online discussion forum, while Indian History also had over 10 questions from outside the syllabus, as well as some errors.
There were also claims that the geography paper was extremely easy, and that the question paper for the subject had possibly been leaked.
Similarly, in the preliminary exam held on 29 July, 2018, the commerce candidates claimed that out of the total 125 questions, 64 were out of the prescribed syllabus in the APPSCCE.
The geography candidates claimed that there were five incorrect questions, two from statistics, and 68 questions which were copied from the postgraduate level National Eligibility Test – Junior Research Fellowship 2014, which are of postgraduate level.
Similar complaints were received from the civil engineering candidates, who claimed that a little over 10 questions were out of syllabus.
Besides, there were spelling and clerical errors this time as well.
The All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union had come out in support of the candidates last year, but they did not raise concerns this time.
If we compare the complaints raised this year with those raised after the previous exam, there is really not much to separate them, except for the subjects.
Was the decision of the commission to hold fresh examination justified then, or was the decision to declare the results this time within days a result of the mounting pressure from the last time? On both occasions, most protesting candidates very truly unprepared for the state civil service exam.
Many took to social media to criticize the protesting candidates on both occasions, and labeled them “ill-prepared”. Some came up with hilarious memes and statuses mocking the protesting candidates.
However, everyone forgot about the non-protesting candidates both times.
Barely a hundred candidates managed to decide the fate of thousands without taking their opinions into consideration. In most cases, candidates who were against the decision of fresh examinations preferred keeping to themselves, and probably prepared better for the exam.
While it may have worked in their favour as they acquired more time to prepare, it also meant that their silence cost everyone eight additional months.
We, however, cannot ignore the repeated errors made by the APPSC which give rise to controversies each year. If the errors were not there to begin with, there would have been no protests and no delay.
The secretary and chairman of the commission also changed between the two exams (preliminary). Can we therefore assume that the former secretary and chairman could not take stern decisions, or were they truly concerned about the anomalies and understood how it would affect the future of those hundreds of protesting candidates?
Meanwhile, the current APPSC secretary informed that the geography paper had the most number of candidates qualifying in the prelims. He, however, did not give an exact number.
He had earlier said that the mains would be held in October, but that a decision is yet to be taken on it.
We may encounter another issue then, but for now, we look forward to a truly error-free mains examination and, hopefully, we will have a fresh batch of well-qualified officers by the end of this year.