Jobs Not By Merit

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Ministers regain powers to recruit people in their departments

THE state government’s decision to allow departments to hold tests to select candidates and fill their vacancies brings back the old regime in which recruitments were made without fair competition and consideration of merit. It makes a mockery of the government’s assurances in the recent past to make recruitment in government merit-based. The government had promised to do recruitments through the Goa Staff Selection Commission (GSSC) for the purpose. But now it has decided to amend the GSSC Act to allow departments to carry out the recruitment process. The changes will allow the ministers concerned to ensure selection of their nominees to strengthen their electoral base. There will be also room for price for a job too. The reversal will have a demoralizing effect on those who might have dreamt of getting selected to posts without any political influence or money to buy one. What is agonizing is the fact that the government has decided to make changes to the centralized recruitment process even before the first candidate was selected by the Goa Staff Selection Commission which was created to bring transparency in the process for recruitment to posts in government departments.

The government had announced that the three-member GSSC panel headed by Puneet Kumar Goel, an IAS official, would be tasked with recruitment of subordinate staff in the government departments transparently. The idea was to ensure that there was a uniform and well-set process to get the best hands selected for the posts. The centralized recruitment process was to end influencing of selection by those enjoying political proximity. The government decision would also demoralize GSSC officials who must have made plans to set up a fair and just recruitment system. What made the government change its own decision on recruitment of staff through a centralised process? There are thousands of posts in government departments vacant.  There is plenty of room to believe that the state government had done it with a political purpose. With recruitments in the domain of departments, every minister will have plenty of room to oblige a certain number of youth from his constituency with a job to generate electoral support for himself.

Goa is perhaps the only state that does not hold competitive examinations to recruit subordinate staff. It was after much criticism that the government got GSSC constituted by an Act. However, two years after enactment of the law the government failed to get even one person recruited through the GSSC. Departments per se are opposed to the idea of a centralized and transparent recruitment process as such a process takes away their powers.  Though there are thousands of vacancies, the government has failed to fill them for almost four years now. Though they have been making announcements every now and then that the centralized recruitment process would be started soon they have failed to keep their promise. The data released by the government indicates that about 16 percent of the youth in the state are unemployed.

The government’s argument that the GSSC would take a long time to complete the recruitment process is flimsy. The government wants to keep GSSC recruitment process on hold for two years. Why did not the government make the GSSC fully equipped and functional soon after it was set up two years ago? A centralized selection process was bound to take longer time to complete than a departmental recruitment process. The process should have been set in motion by the GSSC if the government had extended it all help.  Suspicions are bound to arise that enabling of GSSC for the recruitment process was deliberately delayed so as to sabotage the transparent centralized process and give back the powers to the departments. By continuing with the unfair selection process, the political party in power might benefit, but Goa and Goan youth will be losers. The state needs to foster a competitive spirit among the educated youth.  If such a spirit is lacking in Goa youth, a part of the blame goes to the politicians in power who have been using their powers to favour their nominees in government appointments. With the government decision to make GSSC dysfunctional, the spirit will be further depressed.