Monday, November 12, 2001, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Haryana Civil Service: challenge to establish credibility

Haryana boasts of occupying one of the top slots among Indian states from economic development point of view. But the belief gets shattered if one peeps deep into the prevailing value system and ethics of governance, more particularly in relation to the selection procedure of civil servants in the state.

The Haryana Civil Service (HSC), which has the responsibility of maintaining law and order and executing development activities under the state quota, has been in controversy ever since 1976. Almost all exams conducted by Haryana Public Service Commission to recruit bureaucrats had been challenged in court. The last exam, HCS 1998, conducted during Dec. 2000 and Jan. 2001 is the latest in the series. There was a news item in almost all dailies on October 23, 2001, highlighting irregularities observed during the examination and the manner in which people close to power were allowed to figure in the list of qualified for the interview. True, the common man of Haryana has little faith in the fairness of the constitutional body and has patriotically learnt to digest the malaise. But social acceptance of this rape of talent by the key officials meant to carry out this whole exercise is all the more hazardous for society.

In real sense, people have been forced to fall in line by those in power. All voices raised to seek justice were crushed mercilessly, norms set for the civil society were thrown away while distorting the natural process of law when lawyers of the plaintiffs were whisked away by offering material gains or threatened with dire consequences. Restoring faith in the selection procedure of constitutional bodies like the HPSC is the need of the hour. The HPSC, which till now could not gather much courage to revise the system as per the UPSC pattern, should act now. The present pattern of the HCS exam suits the elements who are good manipulators at exams. For example, in the HCS 1998 paper of General Knowledge, almost 50 per cent paper was of objective type and time allowed was full three hours. In other papers, many questions were below the graduation level.


In national interest, the HPSC should scrap the last exam (HSC-1998) and conduct it again on the lines of the UPSC which it has announced.


Phone committees

The recent scrapping of all telephone advisory committees is to be welcomed and is an example to other government departments to do away with similar superfluous committees.

The original purpose of the Telephone Advisory Committee (TAC) was to give functional representation to associations of lawyers, doctors, traders and others to allocate phones on a priority basis when there was a big waiting list. The entire scenario has changed now with ready availability of phones. In a market economy, such TACs are not required as an intermediary between subscribers and the service providers who are required to be directly in touch with their customers.

It is interesting to recall that the distortions started in the sixties when TAC membership was enlarged with patronage appointees under the head “unrepresented interests” and ubiquitous “social workers”. For some unscrupulous political appointee members of a TAC, it meant an unrecorded income by recommending phones to highest bidders. Subsequent developments are still more disturbing. TAC members were given phones for their use, a large number of free calls and travelling allowances. Some members used TAC membership to influence tenders and contracts.

Bihar is said to have found a concentration of talent in telecommunication with some 2,000 members, Patna having some 400! This came to light when BSNL cut off telephone lines of 200 members of the TAC in Hazipur district for non-payment of telephone bills for calls made in excess of authorised free calls.

No wonder, government finances are under pressure when politicians play ducks and drakes with public organisations to enlarge their political base.

M. R. PAI, Mumbai

Kashmir: what price?

I would like to respond to Dr Arun Goyal’s views regarding Kashmir published in “Editor’s Mail”. I didn’t expect a Punjabi to say such things. We Indians regard our country as motherland and not just a piece of land. He also raised questions regarding the cost we have to pay in keeping Kashmir intact with India.

Now, I would like to ask him a simple question: if a mother suffers from cancer, won’t her children spend a lot of money on her treatment even if they are not sure that their mother’s life could be saved ?

He also raised a point regarding resentment of Kashmiris against the Central Government. Well, Kashmiri Pandits have been thrown out of their own land by terrorists with the suspected help of a few local people, and now they are forced to live as refugees in their own country. Should the voice of Kashmiri Pandits be ignored?

No doubt, so many of our soldiers and innocent people have lost their lives in the Kashmir struggle and we do have a lot of respect for them. But if now we “gift” away Kashmir to our enemies, as suggested by Dr Goyal, then the families of these soldiers and civilians would ask us: if we had to do all this in the end, why did we let their sons, mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers sacrifice their lives?

SANDEEP, by e-mail

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