NPSC: Revamp or Perish

Moa Jamir


The Nagaland Public Service Commission (NPSC) is yet again under scrutiny with the charges of alleged practice of “favoritism” and “manipulation” by its members in the personality test (viva-voce) especially in the coveted NCS, NPS, NSS & Allied Services Examination it holds annually.


Coming on the heels of furor in June after the result of the written examination for the combined technical services exam conducted by the commission had roll numbers not included on the list notified for the written examination, such allegations raise serious questions. The NPSC Chairman had then attributed the same to a “technical error.”


The present allegation pertains to marks allocated to respective candidates for its NCS, NPS, NSS & Allied Services Examination 2015 which the commission ironically published for the sake of transparency and accountability.


The huge discrepancy in marks allocation led to strong objection from the general public, particularly from the Public Service Aspirants of Nagaland (PSAN), which demanded among others, minimizing the viva marks; setting benchmarks for awarding marks; the appointment of retired IAS and NCS officials or professors as NPSC members; and stopping rampant appointment of politicians and bureaucrats.


The consternating factor being the massive differences in marks awarded to the candidates with some getting 74.12 out of possible 75 while others getting as low as 30. Without going into the merit or otherwise of the allegation, the Commission needs to consider the same seriously.


For instance, a preliminary analysis of the data provided by NPSC shows out of total 330 candidates, 115 (or nearly 35% of the interviewees scored below 40 marks). Incredibly, 19 candidates scored 74 or above out of possible 75 marks; and 39 scored over 60 marks (±1-2%).


To put things into perspective, a look at the scoring pattern in the Union Public Service Commission exam would be helpful. Touted as one of the toughest tests, the personality test in UPSC Civil Services Examination has the possible total of 275 marks.


A look into marks obtained by recommended candidates in the CSE 2016 shows that the highest mark obtained was 209 while the lowest was around 124. The variation between the highest and lowest score for 1099 candidates recommended by the UPSC was just over 50%.


In case of NPSC’s personality test, it was a whopping variation of over 85% (±1-2%) difference between the highest and lowest score. The level of moderation in marks acutely missing.


The best scores in CSE 2016 was 209, it was 74.14 out of 75 in NPSC – an incredible achievement literally bringing the commission members to their feet. 19 of them scored either 74 or above.


Two possible things can be inferred from here – either the allegation of favoritism and manipulation is true or the system evaluating oral communication and interpersonal skills itself is highly skewed and defective. This is unfortunate and putting unnecessary scrutiny even on those candidates scoring high with integrity and merits.


Such practices either amount to perpetuating corruption in the system or a defective assessment pattern leading to inefficient outcome. An immediate course correction is imperative – revamp or perish.


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