A play with many acts

[ Nellie N Manpoong ]

The Arunachal Pradesh Public Service Commission has been garnering attention for all the wrong reasons ever since it held the preliminaries of the Arunachal Pradesh Public Service Combined Competitive Examination on 29 November, 2017 – and each new week seems to give rise to a new anomaly concerning the question papers.
But before we go blaming the commission alone, we should note that there are also many who consider the demands of the candidates irrelevant, even ridiculous.
When the geography Series-C candidates complained that none of them cleared the examination and claimed irregularities in the answer key, people were quick to say that they were making another unnecessary complaint.
But the new list proved the skeptics wrong, and 76 from the geography Series-C cleared the preliminaries.
This list also gave the aggrieved candidates who did not clear the preliminaries another reason to continue with their previous demands. They have now asked the commission to introduce the CSAT pattern, outsource question papers from the UPSC, terminate the staff that entered the wrong answer key from their jobs, and so on.
However, readers may recall that when the demand for CSAT first surfaced, the government had denied permission to the APPSC at this juncture, while there were also candidates who opposed the idea.
The current agitating candidates have also warned of legal action.
But how did the situation escalate to this extent?
If memory serves me right, and if the claims of the candidates who first raised the issue in November last year are to be believed, the primary complaint was that the geography paper was “too easy”, while others complained that the sociology paper had questions only from the first unit of the syllabus (of course, there was the issue that the sociology paper was copied from an online discussion forum by an unrecognized author, as well).
While these reasons sound ridiculous, the geography candidates are now paying for not raising their voice against it then. Many candidates opting for science subjects said, “We never complained when our papers were tougher than others, so why are they making it an issue now and seeking fresh exams?”
In fact, no one raised any objection against the commission’s decision to hold fresh examination, and shared their opinions only among friends in whispers or on social media.
Further, the public administration candidates had also claimed that they had several questions from a website that offered questions for the Pakistan civil services and thereby were out of syllabus. However, when candidates from the commerce, civil engineering and geography papers claimed similar issues, including about questions which were of the masters level and not degree, the commission considered giving compensatory marks, and them went ahead with declaring the results.
Now, while the exam date for the mains has been declared for 10 November, along with the second list of candidates, it is to be seen how the commission will deal with the new set of protesting candidates, who have warned of taking legal action if their grievance are not looked into.
The APPSC is not new to controversies, and many candidates and ordinary citizens watching from the sidelines agree that the commission has been making errors which could have easily been avoided if its new members had come up with a systematic plan instead of following the same old approach.
We can choose to either blame the commission or the protesting candidates for the never-ending drama in the APPSCCE, which has, more or less, turned into a play that comes with a new act each week or month.
While the agitating candidates say that they are not against the 1339 candidates who cleared the prelims, their pressure on the commission could affect the outcome for those candidates.
The never-ending developments are exhausting not only for those involved but for the sideliners, as well. The only ones enjoying the play are the trolls on the internet, who are probably waiting for the next act, either by the commission or the candidates.