Sunday, July 21, 2024

Lack of transparency in MPSC results


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“A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity,” (The Dalai Lama) .
This is the kind of scenario that prevails among the candidates who appeared for various recruitment exams conducted by the Meghalaya Public Service Commission (MPSC). The MPSC fails to bring transparency in the declaration of results of various recruitment exams in the following ways:
1. The Commission never discloses the “Official Answer Keys” to the Candidates. Although most of the screening tests or examinations conducted by the MPSC are MCQs (objective type) with Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) Answer sheets, the Commission never releases the answer keys on its website.
2. The Commission never releases the “Cut-off marks” required to pass the exams. The candidates who passed just know that they passed and the candidates who failed just know that they failed based on the display of roll numbers by the MPSC.
3. The Commission never discloses the “marks obtained by the candidates”. The failed candidates never know how short their marks are from the cut-off mark. Any candidate who wishes to know his/her marks has to apply for the same to the Commission.
As such, the candidates are kept in the dark. If Central Service Commissions like the UPSC and the SSC and State Service Commissions like the Assam Public Service Commission and others can make available these vital information to the candidates on their websites, then why not the MPSC?
In view of the above, the Commission is expected to take up this matter very seriously and to do the needful so as to ensure transparency, trust and security among the candidates in future examinations
Yours etc.,
Name withheld on request,
Via email

Drawing wisdom from U Soso Tham and Eliot

Michael N. Syiem’s letter of appreciation for my book, “Great Minds on India”, (ST June 5, 2024), deeply touched me. His viewpoints resonated with many, especially with his apt citation of the revered poet Soso Tham’s poem: “knowledge we seek around the world, wisdom of our own we know nothing of.” This sentiment struck a deep chord with me, too.
In my early research days, my mind was filled with similar thoughts, especially after plunging deeper into several ancient texts. I discovered a vast difference in the depth of knowledge between the West and the East. Yet, I hesitated to fully appreciate or criticize this disparity. Amidst this realization and dilemma, T.S. Eliot, a prominent Western intellectual, instilled in me a sense of conviction and courage. Eliot, celebrated as one of the 20th century’s greatest poets and a Nobel Laureate, was profoundly “amazed” at the depth of ancient Indian wisdom. In his book “After Strange Gods”, he wrote, “Indian philosophers’ subtleties make most of the European philosophers look like schoolboys.”
Eliot’s most widely read poem, “The Waste Land,” abounds with echoes of Eastern wisdom. His exploration of life’s incompleteness and the “lifegiving waters” flowing through the crack in the rock resonates with Eastern philosophical concepts. This sense of incompleteness aligns with the Eastern doctrines of impermanence, with an emphasis on developing an inner thirst for deeper meanings and striving for higher possibility. Recognizing our own incompleteness and frailties in life fosters a sense of humility, encouraging us to remain open to learning and self-growth. Eliot finally concludes the poem with the Sanskrit words “Shantih shantih shantih,” meaning peace in every respect.
Ironically, we Indians habitually look up to the West for knowledge, probably weighed down by a syndrome of inferiority. Such entrenched scepticism usually holds us back from appreciating our wealth of knowledge as also pointed out by Michael Syiem. In contrast, many Western scholars, including leading scientists, never hesitated to describe the knowledge of the West as “cold, and mean,” when compared to the richness of Eastern philosophical wisdom. For instance, a great French philosopher and critic Johann Gottfried Herder noted, “Mankind’s origins can be traced to India, where the human mind first shaped wisdom and virtue with simplicity, strength, and sublimity, which has nothing equivalent in our philosophical, cold European world.”
Finally, let me wrap up the letter with a serious observation from a Nobel Laureate scientist, Erwin Schrödinger, who wrote in his, ‘My World View:’ “Some blood transfusion from the East to the West is a must to save Western science from spiritual anemia.” I don’t think the rationalist scientist expressed such thoughts in jest. Our mere groping in the science laboratory and materialistic pursuits can distance us from profound truths and light of reality.
Yours etc.,
Salil Gewali,

On child labour

If we are against child labour and want to observe the World Day Against Child Labour on June 12, then we should unlearn the myth that poverty is to be alleviated first and then only the problem of child labour can be solved. This myth gives moral support to child labour and makes us unsure about how to react to someone who says that he is doing a great favour to a child’s family by employing her/him because otherwise the child would have starved to death but now, the child is having a square meal every day, and some monthly remuneration as well.
An incident happened during my college days when my common sense could not agree with this false idea. But I could not find a counter logic to come out of it.
It was a day when my college friends and I visited an eatery. I found many child workers had been doing the job of waiters, which made me uncomfortable. I asked the owner why he employed so many child workers. Pat came his reply in the form of a question, “Then who’ll give these poor children food? Will you?”
This made me very uncomfortable. But I told my friends that I didn’t like the argument. It is like giving moral support to nipping a child’s potential in the bud. However, I didn’t know the answer to the problem.
That somewhat cleared our conscience, and we had our lunch promptly served by a pair of small hands of a child waiter. I asked him his name, and he answered softly, “Bilu”, without shifting his focus from the tray full of steaming hot dishes that he had been carrying with utmost care to unload them from one table to another. After giving Bilu a decent tip we headed for a movie.
Then one day, I read in a newspaper Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi’s comments on child labour. He said, “Poverty does not breed child labour, but it is child labour that perpetuates poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, and population growth.
Satyarthi’s clear ideas helped me find an answer to my own dilemma. I have profound respect for this Nobel laureate who struggled all his life to stop children being exploited as labour instead of attending school.
This got me thinking as to what would have been the outcome if the owner of the eatery didn’t employ child workers. I realised that he would not have any other option but to employ adult workers (who could be Bilu’s unemployed adult elder brother). Also, he would have had to pay more for those adult workers. So, his engaging Bilu and others was nothing but to extract more profit!
Moreover, if Bilu happened to become “unemployed”, his parents might, in all probability, send him to a school to at least get a midday meal!
Kailash Satyarthi has broken a long-standing myth that gives child labour less importance than poverty. The truth is – child labour is one of the reasons for poverty and unemployment. As a matter of fact, every child’s entry into the job market actually closes the job opportunity of an adult.
Yours etc.,
Sujit De,


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