FIR against MPSC: Time to root out the rot

If all the controversies surrounding the competitive examinations it conducted are any indication, something is very seriously wrong with the Manipur Public Service Commission or MPSC in short. Hardly any competitive examination conducted by MPSC went off smoothly. It is a matter of utter shame not only for the MPSC executives but also for the whole State that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) registered an FIR against the commission on January 31. Mired in a plethora of irregularities and resultant controversies, the Manipur Civil Services Combined Competitive Exam 2016 was quashed by the High Court of Manipur and the High Court’s order was upheld by the Supreme Court. Apart from quashing the whole recruitment process as well as the recruitments made thereof, the High Court directed CBI to investigate into the conduct of MCSCC (Main) Exam 2016 within a period of three months. This is a brief background of the FIR registered against MPSC by CBI. Already, an enquiry committee found a number of disgusting irregularities and discrepancies in the process of conducting the exam. Some of the discrepancies and errors as pointed out in the enquiry report and published earlier included absence of examiners’ and supervisors’ signatures on a large number of answer sheets, manipulation of marks without signatures of examiners, allotment of marks without evaluating answer sheets etc. Manipur Civil Services Examination 2014 was also not free from controversy. The result of the preliminary examination was declared in three phases between May 13 and 16, 2014, and there were as many as 15 erroneous questions/answer keys. At that time, people, particularly student bodies raised strong protest against the way the particular examination was conducted but the MPSC somehow got off.  MPSC is indisputably the highest recruitment body in the State. If the highest recruitment body is in such mess, the condition of other subordinate recruitment bodies is best left to the imagination of citizens. When the highest recruitment body is in such ugly mess, it would be too far-fetch to expect clean bureaucracy in the State.
Combined competitive civil services examination, as the name suggests, is not any ordinary recruitment exam. It is one of the most alluring yet challenging recruitment. The whole administrative machinery hinges on these exams. Socio-political and economic well being of a State depends much on how the civil services exams are conducted. Those who get selected through the competitive civil services exams ultimately take the helm of a State’s administrative machinery and rise to the upper echelon of the bureaucracy. In another word, these exams are the fountainhead of a State’s bureaucracy. The baseline of all competitive exams, civil services or otherwise is to select the best brains from amongst the smartest candidates. Herein lies the momentous responsibility of the Manipur Public Service Commission but unfortunately the commission is now facing investigation by none other than the CBI. Amongst the three wings of a government – legislature, executive and judiciary, executive is responsible for governance/administration of a country. Executive consists of elected representatives of the people and bureaucracy. But elected representatives are not permanent. They come and go whereas bureaucrats are more or less permanent at least until retirement.  In fact, bureaucracy is an indispensable part of each and every political system be it democracy, monarchy or aristocracy. It can exist in any type of society, be it a dictatorial or a democratic society. Its role is crucial everywhere whether the political system where they operate is communism or socialism or capitalism. Given the crucial roles of bureaucracy in governing any state, all competitive examinations through which bureaucrats are selected should be conducted in a very fair and transparent manner. Now the CBI has registered an FIR against unknown officials of MPSC, let’s hope that the investigation brings out the rot in MPSC and all the culprits are nailed in accordance to law. Let’s also hope that the FIR helps initiate a massive clean-up exercise in MPSC.