Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Monday, May 05, 2003
Columns - Offhand
Tamil Nadu's poor score
A QUICK and tentative analysis (as reported in the Press) of the list of 286 successful candidates for appointment to the Indian Administrative and other All-India and Central Services during 2003 once again brings to light the considerable leeway to be made before Tamil Nadu can measure up to the exacting standards of the competitive examinations conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).
I do not have ready at hand a comparative picture for the past few years, but the impression somehow gains ground that far from there being an improvement, there has actually been a deterioration.
This year, 46 persons, including seven women, from Tamil Nadu were called for interview, of whom 18 were successful.
The first name from the State to figure in the list occupies the 52nd rank, the next is 98th, eight are between 131st and 190th ranks and eight more are between 210th and 274th ranks.
Since the total number of vacancies all over India in IAS is only 70, there may not be many from the State who may be allotted to that Service.
Until some years ago, those who scored less than 35 per cent in the personality test were excluded from the list; but nowadays, that benchmark has been given up, and it is possible even for a candidate getting zero in the personality test to make it to the list on the strength of the total marks in the written examination.
If the practice of insisting on a minimum percentage of marks in the interview had continued, the number of successful candidates from the State could conceivably have been much less.
There has been no lack of attempts at coaching aspirants. Besides many Universities which have such facilities, the Tamil Nadu Government runs special institutions for candidates belonging to scheduled castes and backward classes.
Any number of private outfits also offer tutorials on subjects prescribed by the UPSC. (In fact, Mr Ankur Garg, who stood first in this year's combined competitive examinations, is a product of the Brilliant Tutorials of Chennai, which has an establishment in New Delhi as well).
With all this, the State which, before and immediately after Independence, led the rest of India in academic excellence and performance in civil services examinations, is scoring poorly year after year.
How is this to be explained? Is it that the civil services no longer hold fascination for the best among the educated youth of Tamil Nadu, and they are after jobs in private sector, banks and multinationals?
Or, is it that the rampant casteism, mad obsession with films and film personalities, ravages of the kind of politics for which the State is becoming known and the dearth of role models in any walk of life have stymied the development of intellect?
Whatever it be, if the drift persists, public services will increasingly come to be manned by poor human material with its own damaging effects on governance. Therefore, the matter needs the attention of all those who want Tamil Nadu to regain its pre-eminence.
B. S. Raghavan
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