Michael R Y Khuvung
New Secretariat, Kohima
The recent advertisement of NBSE CESE dated 15th September (Advertisement No. NPSC-4 CESE-2023) has got my attention and has brought mixed feelings as an aspirant. First, being excited and happy to compete and the other being extremely demotivated by the NPSC's way of selecting candidates from a narrow competition pool. The pertaining issue about the 40% weightage for academic marks in NPSC CESE (Common Educational Service Exam) is very unjust for many aspirants as it becomes a competition only among a few irrespective of the quality of education attained. It does not aid to the open and fair aspect of the exam and so unless it is modified and equal competition and opportunity are brought, it will deprive many deserving candidates of their long-awaited goal due to lack of equal competition for all.
Some facts to justify the above statement:
1- Students who graduated through offline exams cannot be at par in terms of %/CGPA with students who graduated during the pandemic-affected years (2019-2021) via open book (online) in the comfort of their homes.
2- A student of renowned central govt institutes like Delhi University, JNU, and Banaras, to name a few where scoring 60% is as hard as scoring 80+ percent in other private/public colleges/universities.
Currently, the required eligibility and process of NPSC CESE for the recruitment of Assistant Professor as per NPSC is a minimum of 55% (50% for ST\SC) in PG with qualified NET conducted by the NTA (National Testing Agency). NET qualification is enough evidence for the aspirant's competence in his/her specific field. And to top it off 200 marks for general studies and English, 100 marks each for descriptive, and MCQ in the particular subject is conducted followed by an interview.
So, the aforementioned students even after passing through all of these scrutinies with exceptional performance fail to make it through because of the disadvantage of their university's unfriendly grading system.
The third point of NNQF (Nagaland Net Qualified Forum) published on 14th August 2023 on Nagaland Post emphasizes this issue where students from prominent institutes are placed at a disadvantage despite the excellent quality of education imparted and their high status in institutions across the country.
I have friends from some of the universities mentioned above with a mere 55% in Masters yet cleared NET with JRF in comparison to some friends from a generous marking institute with 70\80% in Masters yet fail to clear NET despite multiple attempts. Again, a student with outstanding UG marks from a generous marking institute fails to even secure the bare minimum marks required to apply for various exams and jobs when they join a university for further studies that has a history of unfriendly markings like DU, despite the quality education and knowledge acquired. Of course, I am not suggesting that the rule be revised for the multitude based on one's anecdote but many have shared similar experiences and so, based on that, it would not be an overreach to suggest that perhaps higher academic marks don't necessarily equate to more competence.
The current 40% weightage for academic marks should be reduced to 10-15 % and a slight increase in total marks for the written examination for the particular subject paper can be done. Currently, the maximum marks for a specific subject paper are only 200 in total (100 marks each for mcq and descriptive) which seems a little less for recruitment to such a high academic profession like Assistant Professor.
This needed issue has been around for a while now with various individuals, forums, etc., having raised their voices on several occasions about the prevailing unfairness in the recruitment process but unfortunately, the concerned authorities have been playing deaf to the genuine voices of the poor aspirants all this time.
To be clear, this is by no means a disregard for hard-working students of any college/university or an attempt to make an excuse for poor performance in academics. All we seek is for the concerned authority to look into this matter and bring equal competition before any sort of such exam is conducted again.
With much anticipation, I sincerely pray and hope that this reaches the tables of the authorities concerned and that they come up with a solution with a more egalitarian approach to the deprived aspirants at the earliest.