Can we expect the APPSC to be a bulwark of our constitution by adhering to its sole objective of recruiting the most deserving aspirants in the state composing of high integrity, aptitude and ethical standard, or atleast, can we expect it to conduct a controversy free exam?
I would like to highlight some of the problems that recent APPSC examination has been facing and also provide with some of the best practices being followed by other state PSC’s in order to give it a facelift.
Firstly, the present pattern followed by the commission has become obsolete. It doesn’t meet the current demands of this exam.
In fact, many state PSCs have either come out with their own pattern or have aligned themselves to that of UPSC’s pattern in order to conform to the present demand.
Look at the questions asked in this year’s general studies paper. It is not at par with other state’s PCS exams. It doesn’t look like one of today’s civil service exam; it’s not competitive in any case and does nothing to incentivise the students to work hard in order to get through this exam.
Anybody could have easily answered most of the questions without having to spend time on table.
Rajiv Mehrishi, CAG, has recently in an interview said that the questions asked nowadays in UPSC is changing and becoming even more competitive. They are looking for people who have wider knowledge and are interested in serving the society. With the very static nature of our state commission, I believed that it will be very difficult to achieve such feat.
Secondly, syllabuses of most of the optional subjects are outdated. UPSC has been revising its syllabus from time to time and made sure that the level playing ground is kept intact from the optional subjects point of view.
Consequently, syllabus of subjects like Mathematics, which requires enormous amount of time, has been moderated and currently only 13 chapters are prescribed by the UPSC for mathematics compared to 19 chapters of our state PSC. This is not fair to those few students who have opted such subjects.
Thirdly, the problem related to grace marks. Compensating for wrong question is justiciable, but does the commission even realise that giving grace marks for 8-10 questions amounts to giving away 16-20 marks so freely. This is not fair. That’s a very big number and can make a huge difference in a competitive exam as it is obvious that maximum standard deviation will lie near the cut off mark.
Fourthly, errors related to printing and the question itself has been very prominent in this year’s exam. If one observes closely, there are mistakes in many of the papers.
And the case gets murkier when it comes to unpopular optional papers like Mathematics, Civil Engineering.
For instances, take the case of Mathematics optional paper.
I hardly believe any person would know that in mathematics optional paper’s (SET A), Q.47, Q.84, Q.86, Q.109 and Q.111 are either incorrect or comes with errors of some kind. But since students opting these unpopular subjects are very few, their voices are often unheard by the commission who, otherwise, never fails to solve the grievances put forth by the students with big numbers. Commission shall do well if it makes sure that papers are made error free or with minimal numbers of error.
Fifth, I doubt how many people who took technical subject or pure science like Mathematics or Physics, which involves lots of calculation, have qualified for the mains.
Solving 125 questions within 120 minutes that too including the time to fill the OMR sheet requires tremendous speed. The commission should not neglect such people by setting very biased or lengthy paper.
With the recommendation of Kothari Commission, medical and technical students were allowed to appear in the civil services examination for the first time as they believed that best of the young minds enter either medical or engineering in our country. . The Commission has to learn from various other State Commissions in this regard.
The current Madhya Pradesh PCS has only six papers in their mains (4 General Studies, 1 essay and 1 language paper ) with no optional. Jharkhand PCS has also six papers with slight modification in a way that it has made some portion of public administration compulsory for all with no optional. Rajasthan PCS has four general studies papers with no optional.
UPPCS has also aligned itself to the pattern of UPSC from this year onward.
I believe that if APPSC makes new changes in its examination pattern in keeping with UPSC pattern, many APSC aspirants will also be able to take UPSC exam without much extra effort.
This would also resolve the paradox of our state government objective i.e it has always encouraged the students to become an IAS, IPS or an IFS officers on one hand, but its attitude, on the other hand, to reform the state public service commission to conform that of UPSC’s pattern has always been lackadaisical.
Lastly, if the Commission wants to come out with some changes, it should atleast notify the new pattern or revised syllabus at the earliest.
A serious aspirant never waits for the notification of the post as he knows that syllabus is huge and answer writing requires ample amount of time.