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Shortage of officers

This newspaper on Friday carried a front page news story, according to which the state administration in Assam is currently facing shortage of as many as 221 Assam Civil Service

Assam Civil Service

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  22 Feb 2021 4:41 AM GMT

This newspaper on Friday carried a front page news story, according to which the state administration in Assam is currently facing shortage of as many as 221 Assam Civil Service (ACS) officers. Going by the news item, in which sources in the Personnel department were quoted, the shortage has occurred despite a recent recruitment of 135 officers into the state civil service. While it has been stated that there is very less possibility of any fresh recruitment of ACS officers taking place during the remaining part of 2021, the fact remains that Assam Public Service Commission (APSC) is yet to conduct even the preliminary examination to recruit more such officials. It requires almost a year to complete the process of selection and recruitment of officers to the ACS, APS and Assam Land & Revenue Services. The said news item has mentioned that while there are a total of 1,100 sanctioned posts for the civil services, Assam currently has only 879 officials in service. What is of worry is that while normal work in various government departments is already suffering due to the existing vacancies, the situation is likely to worsen further because of the fact that five to six senior ACS officials retire every month on an average. What appears is that there is a lack of coordination between the State government and the APSC, because of which the latter has not been able to conduct the required recruitment process on a regular basis. Moreover, the APSC, which had suffered horribly under the previous Congress regime after the then Chief Minister had appointed a person called Rakesh Paul as is chairman, who in turn had converted the APSC into a kind of wholesale fish market where jobs of gazetted officers were literally auctioned, with the highest bidder getting the pulm post. The quality of officers selected for the ACS, APS and other services of the State government under a grossly corrupt APSC chairman will on the other hand continue to adversely affect the administrative and delivery mechanism in Assam for decades to come. The people have already seen the activities of some of these officers, many of whom had been arrested by police and sent to jail. While discussing the quality of officers selected for the ACS, APS and other services of the State government, one should probably also discuss the issue of lack of motivation among the youth of the state to look at the various all-India services as a better career option. There is a mindset prevalent across Assam that all-Indian services mean the IAS, IPS and other such services, recruitment for which are done through the combined Civil Services examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). The reality however is that there are numerous all-India services in various sectors – like the armed forces, railways, the banking and insurance sector, the postal department, the Central government health services, customs, central excise, and so on – for which the students of Assam should be prepared from the high school level. In this respect, the teaching community – whether in high schools or in colleges and universities – have a crucial role to play. Unfortunately, the majority of our teachers are practically blank on career counselling. The government could probably include the ability of career counselling is an important criterion while selecting teachers for the high schools and higher secondary schools in particular. Likewise, the ability to counsel students on various career options should also be made a must criterion in recruitment of college teachers. It is not that the students and youths of Assam do not have the qualities required to compete and come out successful in the various all-India recruitment examinations. The basic problem is that they do not get the necessary guidance and support from their teachers and do not have access to the right kind of information. Additionally, the mushroom growth of so-called coaching centres have been only fleecing the poor students in the name of providing coaching to get through various all-India recruitment examinations including those conducted by UPSC. The government should take maximum care while granting permission to those proposing to set up such coaching institutes.

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