Sunday, May 26, 2024

Why are Meghalaya aspirants scoring zilch in UPSC exams


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The dry spell of our state in the All-India Civil Services Examination conducted by UPSC continues. The pattern is no different this year. After the success of Isawanda Laloo I.A.S. (RR 2013) & Terakchi K. Marak, IFS. (RR 2013), followed seven years later by Ankur Das, IAS (RR 2021) and Swapnil Bhattacharyya, I.A.S.(RR 2022), there has been none who qualified for the AICS examination from Meghalaya. It is not only a matter of concern but an issue which calls for tangible action plan by all concerned. This year there were 1143 vacancies in various services, including IAS, IPS, and IFS, and recommendation has been made for the appointment of 1016 candidates which includes 86 from the ST categories, among others. As far as the NE is concerned, nine successful candidates are from strife torn Manipur, four from Nagaland and 5 from Assam in the list of successful candidates in the batch of 2023, result of which was declared recently. Candidates from other NE states has also been successful during the last decade.
Shillong has been the cradle of quality education for all NE states till mid-eighties or so. In our school days, students not only from the region but even beyond came here to study, both at school and college level. To-day most of these states have established educational institutions of value based largely on our model. Many of such states are faring better than us. It is time for introspection and review of our education management. School and home are the most appropriate institutions where the seed of emancipation should be sown if we are to succeed in such examinations and others. The above average students confine themselves to the comfort zone of medicine, engineering, et al. There is minimal interest in All India Services and number of students appearing is low compared to other states. State Civil Service officers rarely venture out of their comfort zone to prepare and appear for the All-India Service. The environment sadly is till lacking and hence it is mostly students who study outside the state, in appropriate atmosphere, who usually prepare and crack such exams. It is imperative to create such an environment in our state. The strike rate of the limited private and government institutes preparing students for the AICSE has not been up to the mark. The competition no doubt is very stiff and thus calls for total commitment without losing heart at initial failures.
In my humble opinion, the AICS officers posted in Meghalaya will do well to take the initiative, to start with by sensitizing students not only in Shillong but in all district HQs and sharing their saga of preparation and total single-minded involvement to achieve success. A classic example is D.P. Wahlang present Chief Secretary, who after his MBA was appointed in a lucrative job in the private sector. But he did not lose sight of his ultimate goal of qualifying for the UPSC. He did so without compromising on the profession he was pursuing. He is the most suitable individual to formulate an action plan with the advice of former AICS officers like P.J. Bazely, Toki Blah, Rudi Warjri, W.M.S. Pariat, P.S. Thangkhiew, Hector Marwein, Peter Ingty, B.K. Lyngwa, TTS Marak, C.P. Marak to name a few, among many others, together with the present ones to formulate a long- and short-term strategy and action plan. I am sure our students are no less than any others in the country. What is needed is the right guidance and direction and to instil confidence in their capabilities to succeed with their experience and approach. Let us all contribute in our own limited and humble manner to encourage our student community to also pursue this career option.
Yours etc.,
Naba Bhattacharjee,
Shillong- 4

Innovative and noble
Recently the state education department had notified that all schools should have “bagless” days and we hope that all schools are adhering to this new norm – something that is a much needed relief to students. It is a pity that we are yet to bring in e-learning pads to replace textbooks that burden small children as well when they have to carry bags that weigh up to 3 to 6 kilograms and at times more. Medical studies have shown that heavy load of books on a student can cause gradual spinal problems and even strain on the upper part of the body towards the shoulders and the neck. Education needs to be innovative and interactive rather than just mere “learning”. Another news that went viral was the innovative and noble approach by Swapnil Tembe, the Director for School Education and Literacy who has taken a step further in bringing out guidelines to compete for the UPSC Civil Services examination for many young people who have limited means to undergo coaching. This is a laudable effort and a noble duty to help those in need. Why are we unable to churn out civil servants is an important point to note. Does the fault lie with our dreary and defective education system or the lack of awareness or perhaps both.
Yours etc.
Dominic S.Wankhar,
Via email

Dissent the lifeblood of democracy
Amartya Sen rightly said, “Under British rule, Indians were often arrested and imprisoned without trial, and some were kept in prison for a long time. As a young man, I had hoped that as India became independent, this unjust system, in use in colonial India, would stop. This has not, alas, happened, and the unsupportable practice of arresting and keeping accused human beings in prison without trying them has continued in free and democratic India”.
Citing data from the National Crime Records Bureau, the People’s Union of Civil Liberties in its draft report pointed out that out of 8,371 persons arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) between 2015 and 2020, only 235 were convicted. The high rate of acquittal (97.2%) showed that prosecution under the UAPA did not have merit in the huge majority of cases.
Indeed, the data that out of 8371 persons arrested under the UAPA between 2015 and 2020, only 2.8 per cent were convicted, raises serious questions about whether this law should be pursued in an independent democratic country. A democracy cannot survive without dissent and free speech. It needs to be reviewed whether the UAPA tends to erase lines of demarcation between political dissent and criminal activity.
Yours etc.,
Sujit De,


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