Hopelessly out of commission

[ Tongam Rina ]
The Arunachal Pradesh Public Service Commission has a rival, if not better, in the Arunachal Pradesh Staff Selection Board.
Since the notification which was out in 2017, the commission has not been able to even conduct a proper exam to recruit Arunachal Pradesh Public Service officers and Arunachal Pradesh Police Service officers.
As of now, the commission is in court. The commission has a history of being inept. The events of the last few years only reinforce its reputation: irresponsible, inept, and not willing to learn from past mistakes.
The commission has messed with the lives of hundreds of young people, and at the same time deprived the state of officers, breaking the very spine of the bureaucracy in the state.
Successive governments have not been able to do anything with the commission. There has been no effort to reform it, though the commission has been plagued with one problem after the other since its inception. Sometimes I wonder if someone in the commission has all of the government’s secrets. Otherwise what stops the government from acting against it? By now, everybody should have been replaced or sacked. I still think someone in the commission has the government’s secrets.
As we sit and watch the commission play with the lives of hundreds of young aspiring civil servants, comes the report of the huge mess in the Arunachal Pradesh Staff Selection Board.
A candidate and a broker are reported to have been arrested, while a non-bailable arrest warrant has been issued against an APCS officer of the APSSB by the SIC, led by M Harsha Vardhan, an efficient member of the Indian Police Service who, along with his team of officers, is likely to get to the core of the matter.
The APSSB is a pet project of Chief Minister Pema Khandu. On numerous occasions, he has said that the APSSB would select deserving and meritorious candidates who would work towards a better state.
The people of the state, used to being silent spectators, and, in some cases, party to illegal appointments, had high hopes that something was being done for appointment of all government employees in Groups C and D on the basis on merit and in a transparent manner.
Those hopes have been dashed for now. One can imagine the hurt the CM must be feeling, watching his pet project crumble even before it took of. Though Pema Khandu has said that action has been initiated, the rot in the system is such that one really has to hope for a true miracle.
The chief minister can’t be blamed for the mess that the board has created, but as the boss he has to take responsibility and ensure that the system is corrected at the earliest. It’s going to be arduous, but it’s not an impossible task.
As of now, the top officials of the SSB have been replaced, with Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar himself being made boss.
Those replaced include an Indian Administrative Service officer who has been known for taking commissions in every department he has been a part of. In fact, when the officer was appointed to the SSB, there were whispers that the board was headed for disaster. Only the SIC will be able to figure out the full truth.
None of the exams conducted by the board – which is not even two years old – has been without controversy. What does it say? The rot in the system is deep-rooted. In all likelihood, there will be more arrests, and many of them won’t serve jail time because there are hospitals – the favourite places for offenders with connections.
It is time for the government to figure out a way to fix the system, so that merit counts. The state is already grappling with huge unemployment, and there are very limited government jobs. The least the government can do is ensure that there is transparency, and that merit counts.
For many, it’s not unusual to get requests for monetary contribution to secure a government job. This usually happens after the results of the written exams are out. Brokers are everywhere. Nobody knows whether the brokers actually fix government jobs or if they are just out there to make money, making use of the opportunity. No one knows as yet, but any one of us who has been part of this donation culture for government jobs is part of the problem. How long are we going to fail our young citizens who believe in merit and transparency?