A Tribune Investigation
Chandigarh, March 7
Moreover, the interviews too were a total farce, it is learnt. For, the interviews of most of the “pre-rejected” applicants only lasted from 30 seconds to a minute-and-a-half. The fact can be better gauged from this: Interviews of 45 candidates were completed in less than 40 minutes on a given day, the duration including the time taken for checking certificates at three levels.
Notably, when the job-applicant ratio is substantially large, a screening test is conducted by public service commissions across the country. However, despite the fact that in this case the number of applications was over 20 times the number of advertised posts, PPSC decided to give the screening test a miss.
Not only this, absurd questions were allegedly asked from “pre-rejected” candidates during interviews. “How many teeth does a frog have?; Give the flight details to Russia? Why didn’t you go in for a third child?” included some of them. Then, another student was called “stupid” and asked to “get out” when he tried to explain why he had become a doctor while his parents were non-medicos.
“On the other hand, some VIP candidates were escorted in, offered tea and asked about the welfare of their parents,” a rejected candidate from Gurdaspur said.
While the PPSC had kept 50 per cent marks for interviews, the remaining were divided as: academic background (35), higher qualifications (3), publications (5), social work (5) and participation in extra-curricular activities like NSS and NCC (2).
However, neither the interview criteria nor this breakup of marks were intimated to candidates. Both the advertisements, inviting applications for the two lots of 100 and 212 posts, did not mention a word about the selection procedure. When some candidates sought the criteria under the RTI Act, they were told by the PPSC that this information was “secret” and could not be divulged. The criteria were, however, notified on the PPSC website 10 days after the conclusion of the interviews for the first lot of 100 selections.
On the basis of documents gathered by The Tribune, it is clear that unlike the general mass of candidates, many candidates seemed to know this breakup much earlier as all the relevant certificates were attached by them with their application forms and bio-data sheets, giving them a lead of several marks over others.
In some cases of the “pre-selected” candidates, the certificates were put on record only a few days before the interview, a fact borne out by the date of issuance of the certificates. One successful candidate was allowed to submit the certificates even after the interview.
The genuineness of these “last-minute” certificates is also questionable. RTI records of the certificates submitted by a selected candidate in the first list of 100 doctors shows her to be in a state 2,500 km away from Punjab appearing for her final year exams and also attending NSS camp at Kapurthala.
When contacted, PPSC member DS Grewal said there was no way of finding out if the certificate was genuine or not. “I agree many candidates took us for a ride,” he said. He said the interview method was chosen with an aim to have doctors with “well rounded personalities” and not mere medical experts. “We also did not want to make any drastic changes from the earlier system,” he added.
Sources, however, pointed out that in 1998 when the last set of selections for the PCMS through the PPSC took place, there were 900 seats and 1,200 applicants and yet a screening test was conducted.
(To be concluded)