Manipur Civil Services Examination, its unpredictability & more

Manipur Civil Services Examination, its unpredictability & more

Manipur Civil Services Examination, its unpredictability & more

Written By: / Articles / Friday, 19 February 2016 16:24


The speed at which the Manipur Public Service Commission (MPSC) has cancelled the Manipur Civil Services Combined Competitive (MCSCC) Examination, 2015 notification must have left many candidates baffled. It is really surprising that the protest against the eligibility criteria began when the preliminary examination scheduled to be conducted on February 28, 2016 is round the corner. These criteria were not new ones and the MPSC had conducted the same examinations earlier with the same criteria. Then, why did the protest erupt this time? One of the reasons is that this time, for the first time, the MPSC had accepted online applications for the examination and this led to a large number of candidates hailing from other states apply for it thereby creating an impression that this would make things tough for Manipuri candidates to clear the examination.
Was the protest justified?
It is true that several State Public Service Commissions do prescribe some eligibility criteria for their State Civil Services Examinations which often place other candidates hailing from other States at a disadvantage. This is often done by including the state language(s) of the concerned state other than English as one of the eligibility criteria. For example, in Uttar Pradesh, Marks secured in the Hindi compulsory paper are included in deciding one’s rank in the merit list. However, the intention may not be to make candidates hailing from other States ineligible for the examinations altogether.
The MPSC could have done that the same thing if it were farsighted. However, having notified, it should have stuck to its position and should not have cancelled the examination even though some groups had raised their voices against the examination process. What were these groups doing for so long? If these groups were really interested in promoting fairness in the recruitment process and the interest of all Manipuri candidates, why haven’t they raised any voice against the unfair advantage enjoyed by a few optional subjects in the main examination which has made the idea of having a level playing field in the examination process almost impossible? (Please refer to my earlier article, dated 10th December, 2014: Need for a level playing field in Manipur Civil Services Examination, which is inter-alia available at http://e-pao.net/channel.asp?what=education )
It is also pertinent to keep in mind that out of the 82 vacancies notified in this particular examination 38 had been reserved from Manipuri Candidates (2 for SC Candidates, 22 for ST candidates and 14 for OBC candidates) which means that candidates hailing from other States could have competed for the remaining 44 vacancies only. Have we become so fearful/ afraid of competing with others that we have decided to compete with ourselves only? If the rules of the game are fair, why cannot we be brave enough to compete well and win/lose bravely? Yes, we could have asked for some changes in future examinations in view of the new experience gained but this time we should have allowed the MPSC to conduct the examination with the hope that the recruitment process would be a fair one - Does the MPSC enjoy such a reputation of fairness? Don’t they say Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion?
Hidden cost of a cancelled examination
This is not for the first time that the MPSC had cancelled an examination. Whenever, an examination such as this is being cancelled, it involves significant hidden costs which are often ignored – the cost of cancellations of air/train tickets of a large number of applicants residing outside the State which may run into a considerable sum of rupees in lakh; the cost of time & expenditure incurred in submitting the applications; the cost of public money spent by the Commission etc. It also creates inconvenience to a large number of working candidates who have applied for leave and planned their leave accordingly. Does the MPSC think that as long as things are convenient for it, it is ok even if it inconveniences a large number of candidates because its officials do not have to spend even one rupee from their pockets?  Yes, it is the public money that the Commission spends and there is no fixing of accountability with respect to the cancelled examinations. So, who is the ultimate loser? Your guess is as good as mine!

Also high time for changing the present examination pattern (syllabus)
It goes without saying that the present pattern of the MCS main examination needs to be changed in view of its apparent failure to provide a “level playing field” as a result of the undue advantage enjoyed by a few optional subjects like Public Administration & Education and the other changing realities of the times including the fact the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) had discarded the present pattern still followed by the MPSC three years back in 2013 and adopted a new pattern/syllabus since then.  While no pattern of the examination can completely be free from some inherent weaknesses, there should be a continuous endeavor to improve it as recruitments play a very vital role in the overall scheme of things for achieving the myriad goals of good governance. What can be the best pattern that we can think of? It will not be an easy question to answer.
Won’t it be a good idea to adopt the same pattern followed by the UPSC so that our candidates will have an added advantage of preparing for both the examinations by studying the same syllabus? Won’t it be in the interest of fairness and of providing a better level playing field if the number of common papers (General Studies Papers) is increased, thereby increasing their share in the total marks while the weightage given to one or two optional subjects is reduced?
There may be several better options before the MPSC if it desires to improve the pattern in its quest to recruit the most deserving candidates. Where there is a will, there is a way. Hope the MPSC looks into these issues this time along with the present issue relating to eligibility criteria.
Relying on hopes
One is reminded of Emily Dickenson’s line on hope:  “Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all.” So it is this hope - that the selection process may be fair someday; that the MPSC may someday rise above suspicion like Caesar’s wife; that the examination process may someday provide a level playing field to all and that the most deserving candidates may win - which still gives hopes to a large number of candidates to write this examination again and again with doubts & uncertainties in their minds and hopes in their hearts. Hope that the MPSC succeeds beyond expectations this time, using the present experience as a blessing in disguise.

By : Shougrakpam Ratnamani Singh

About the Author

Maheshwar Gurumayum

Maheshwar Gurumayum

Maheshwar Gurumayum, Sub-Editor of Imphal Times is a resident of Sagolband Salam Leikai. He has been with Imphal Times since 2013. An avid adventure lover, writes mostly travelogue. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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