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Selection On Merit

Technical jobs too must be under Staff Selection Commission purview

NOW, recruitments to non-technical group ‘C’ posts in government departments would be done by the Goa Staff Selection Commission. Earlier, the government had announced formation of a staff selection commission to make selections through examinations for the positions vacant in various departments. A bill was passed by the Assembly allowing for setting up of Goa Staff Selection Commission. The bill received assent of Governor Mridula Sinha on September 10, and the Act came into force September 18. Confusion however persisted about the validity of the departmental recruitment process set in motion in some departments, which had issued advertisements seeking applications for their vacant posts; confusion was compounded as a high-level panel headed by Chief Minister Pramod Sawant cleared filling of 1,000-odd vacancies in the Goa Medical College which were advertised on August 28.

The confusion has ended with the government circular of Tuesday by which it directed heads of all departments to withdraw the advertisements they had issued after August 9 this year. The heads of departments were directed to issue suitable notice, communiqué in newspapers and on the government of Goa portal in order to inform the applicants and the wider public. Chief Minister Pramod Sawant deserves appreciation for pushing the staff selection commission bill, as it is expected to put an end to the appointments made by ministers at their discretion. Appointments were seen by ministers as a way of building loyal voters in constituencies, not as a way of improving efficiency or work culture in their departments. And the departments were making appointments without the approval of the personnel department.

However, the government has not shown the same zeal in appointing chairman and members of the staff selection commission. The more time the government takes to appoint chairman and members, the more the recruitments would be delayed. The government is believed to be engaged in making a short list of candidates for chairman of the commission; they should make the final selection as quickly as they can. The candidates who might have applied for the posts advertised by various departments would be eagerly waiting for the commission to start the process. The candidates who were entirely banking on minister’s or MLA’s favours might not apply to the commission as they would be lacking in confidence. But those who were not so dependent would apply. What is more, there might be more candidates who would apply, especially those who had turned cynical about meritorious candidates never getting government jobs, as they were obtained on the basis of politicians’ favours. Delay in manning the commission could also hamper work in departments on account of less manpower with positions remaining vacant.

The government has, however, kept technical jobs in the group ‘C’ category out of the jurisdiction of the Goa Staff Selection Commission. The government has justified it on the ground that the commission would not have expertise to test the merits of jobs requiring high skills such as nurses and lab technicians. This justification is however open to debate, as a commission that has been set up to select candidates for all group C jobs on merit is going to be left to choose candidates for only non-technical jobs. Chief Minister Pramod Sawant should be aware that even for vacancies for technical jobs, political recommendations have worked in the past. Sawant needs to rethink the exclusion of technical posts from the Goa Staff Selection Commission. If he needs to equip the commission with expertise to test the skill level of candidates for technical jobs he should do it. The commission need not have permanent experts in all the technical fields. A panel of experts could be hired to do the testing as and when a department requires recruits to technical posts. Excluding technical posts might make clever politicians and officers define this or that post as ‘technical,’ just to get them out of the purview of the commission. That would create a large room for manipulation by politicians heading departments as ministers to give jobs for buy permanent loyalties in their constituencies. This will defeat the very purpose of setting up the Goa Staff Selection Commission. The government must let the commission to make recruitments to all non-gazetted posts, technical or non-technical.

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