The APPSC imbroglio

Monday Musing

[ Junroi Mamai ]

The state was recently witness to a mass outpouring of anger and agitation by people who sought changes in the Arunachal Pradesh Public Service Commission (APPSC), the state’s apex recruitment body, following the cash-for-job scam.

The topmost recruitment body of the state has been embroiled in controversies for decades. Several corruption and court cases have been filed against the commission in the past also. However, this time, the cash-for-job scam not only deeply marred the APPSC but has completely obliterated its already fragile reputation.

Protests were held in the past too by thousands of disgruntled aspirants against the commission’s workings, though the protests were rarely violent. The violence that we witnessed in the recent agitation is nothing but a culmination of decades of lack of political will on the part of the government to bring reforms in the commission, which the aspirants are desperately seeking.

Unfortunately, incidences of question paper leakage are common for government examinations in India. A recent BBC report stated that in Gujarat, since 2014, at least nine attempts to recruit schoolteachers and junior clerks have been cancelled due to paper leaks. Likewise, in West Bengal, authorities had to launch an investigation last year after question papers to hire teachers were widely shared on social media, hours before the exam. Similar stories are reported from Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. In Rajasthan, aspirants allegedly paid the teachers who were on invigilation duty at the exam centres to solve the papers for them. Dummy candidates carrying fake IDs take the test on behalf of the aspirants for money. Most job aspirants there also lost faith in the recruitment process, while some fear that they will soon be past the age limit to apply for government jobs owing to repeated cancellation of exams.

Meanwhile, in the state, public anger has ebbed for now, following the eight-hour-long discussion held between the state government and the aggrieved aspirants on Saturday. The onus is now on both parties to ensure that a tangible mechanism is put in place to address the longstanding issue. Though the government has responded positively to most of the 13 demands, there are a few contentious demands which, if implemented, will lead to complications in the future.

For example, one of the demands, that ‘any examination found to be involved with malpractices like paper leakage scams must be immediately declared null and void,’ is already garnering negative response from those who were appointed in the 2014-2022 period.

In case the inquiry committee finds out irregularity in a particular case, then the person(s) will probably seek legal remedy, which could lead to a long and tedious legal battle for years.

Moreover, will the move not be unjust to the persons who have been serving the state government for almost a decade and who have a lot of liabilities to their families? Will the state government be ready to willingly discourage its own serving officers?

It is now imperative that the state government builds trust among the people, especially on the issues concerning the welfare of the state’s youths. Hope that the government frames concrete policies on the issue, so that there is no place for discontent and people do not have to resort to violence to make their voices heard.