Musings for a responsible society

Amidst the dark and grey shades increasingly engulfing, invading and piercing deeper and deeper, let me try to enjoy the little smiles, genuine greens, and the gentle breeze. Oh! Creator! If you don't exist, my vain!
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'Marry my daughter if you want to become a babu' : The corruption in the job recruitment

When Nagaraj, the young and ever smiling hair dresser at the Club told me about his experience while he took his wife for a job recruitment examination conducted by the State Government, I was in a shock. Just like many hapless millions who are unemployed, the lady who was a rank holder in her post-graduation in Economics (in spite of the fact that she belonged to the ‘under privileged’ sections of the society), had applied for some advertised posts in the government. Just before the examination, three persons came to the examination hall and inquired with the candidates whether they were willing to pay money for getting the post. If they agree, their roll numbers will be noted and they would be ‘taken care of’ while awarding the marks for the written examination. A few of them went near to those job brokers and whispered their ‘offers’ secretly in public view. As expected, Nagaraj’s wife could not get selected for any of the posts as she never had the resources to make  monetary investment in the job trade. It was not job recruitment but job-bidding!

The other day, another young man came with sweets to share his joy. He said, he got selected to a high ranking entry level post in one of the state government departments. From the information I gathered from my hair dresser Nagaraj, I asked this gentleman:  ‘How much you had to shell out for getting the post?’ He said, ‘Nothing. Since I secured highest marks among all the candidates, they had to select me. But they ‘demanded’ another strange proposal from me if I needed a ‘plum’ posting like revenue collector or ‘Tehsildar’ (Head of local administration, much below a District Collector). The demand was my consent to get married to the daughter of any of the listed political functionaries belonging to my caste. I said ‘No’, and I got a post which is not very ‘lucrative’ ‘.

I relished the sweet of this contented young man.

Criminal Investigation Division of Government of Karnataka, India is probing the ‘jobs for marriage scam’ in the state. (Click to see a news report)

See another excerpt from a report in CNN-IBN 
Karnataka: Rs 1 crore for government jobs, allege toppers
Deepa BalakrishnanCNN-IBN | Updated Jun 12, 2013 at 08:21am ISTBangalore: A crore or more for a government job - that's the going rate in Karnataka. In March 2013, Dr HPS Mythri got a high rank in the recruitment exam for the Karnataka Administrative Service. She was confident of a top job until she went for her personality test.Dr Mythri said, "I got a call from the KPSC member saying I'm the topper in ST category and I should go and meet the member for a negotiation. Since I'm ST woman, the price is concessional, or else it would be Rs 1 to Rs 1.5 crore."Dr Mythri didn't pay. She was given a low score on the personality test. The girl who got 70 marks lesser than her got a boosted score on the same test.Even Ajay, her batchmate's rank slipped from 34 in the written exam to 157 after the personality test. G Ajay said, "They spoke to my father and said if we're aiming at Assistant Commissioner Post, the cost is Rs 1 crore or more. It's a huge amount and we didn't want to buy a job."Mythri and Ajay are just two of the 200-odd of the candidates who've complained to the government in protest about the blatant corruption for a government post. "I've seen many candidates crying in front of the commission when they see the marks though they have done well in the main exam," said Dr Mythri.

When the seed of corruption is planted even before a person applies for a career and nurtured it strategically all along his career in the name of better posting, transfer, promotion etc., the system in fact becomes a fertile ground for ‘criminal’ servants to thrive and it weeds out the servants who tend be ‘civil’.  Add to this, governments incur huge expenditure and substantial time to formulate anti-corruption laws and establish large machinery to curb, investigate and punish the corrupt officials.

The economic slowdown has resulted in increased unemployment among the skilled manpower. There are thousands of technical professionals who stay at home without any meaningful employment. In such a scenario, there are people who are willing to take shortcuts to get into a career, especially in the government sector. However, a person who pays huge sums to get a job would definitely try to misuse his position to get back his ‘returns’ with ‘interest’. The political masters who granted jobs for people after taking huge amounts would close their eyes on the large scale corruption at every levels of government machinery. Ultimately, the ordinary citizen is forced to pay money to get things done. Thus, the root of corruption in government service is at the recruitment stage itself.

This does not mean that all those who got selected to a government department without paying money would not take bribes. In an environment of corruption, some of those who got into the job on merits also demand bribes for providing service to the public.

Fortunately, no malpractices are reported at the stage of recruitment of Civil Services Officers in India (the premium cadres in Government Service). But there are a few instances of large scale corruption even at senior levels and the postings and transfers are not always fair.  In view of the corrupt environment in which young civil services recruits are posted, one more paper on ethics and values has been added to the Civil Services (Main) Examination from this year. Will this end corruption? Unless, the entire recruitment upto the lowest levels in government service are done in a fair and transparent manner, the corruption cannot be wiped off from the Government Service. 

Comments are welcome. Views are personal

                                                                           © Sibichen K Mathew 

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  1. This is so bad. These recruitment look more like beauty contest selections, where the candidates are at the mercy of a few judges. Sad that there is resistance to standardized tests and policies.

    1. Those who want to have their way hate fairness and transparency.

  2. The Chapdasi or gatekeeper of a government office takes bribe to let you inside the complex. What irritates me is the fact that he demands the same as if it were his birth right and there are baffoons among us who happily give away an equal or bigger amount. More than corrupt people, the mistake is of people among us who are party to it. A washout like Uttarakhand alone might be able to save the country from the monster called corruption.

    1. What you talked about government office is not with any exaggeration. That is the reality in many such offices. But people are scared of the complex environment and somehow want to get rid of that. The situation is exploited by the chapdasi and many other people there.

  3. Recently one of my friends had cleared reputed recruitment exam of Karnataka with good rank. She had struggled a lot for that, studied very hard, managing her two kids and current job. She was asked to pay a huge amount in the interview. She had to leave her dream and be happy with the current job.

    1. This is another example of blatant corruption in recruitment in Government. Thanks Ranjana for sharing

  4. I just want to share two real life experiences. I was travelling in a train from Rourkela to Bhilai where I met this young man. He said that he was going to join the police force and that he had paid some lakhs for this. Further he told me something which actually surprised me and made me thing. He said that he will earn this much just in a year once he joins the force. Next is my personal experience. I cleared written interview for one of the private engineering colleges (its a renowned one) and invited for interview. The only question I was asked if I could pay for the seat. Since I could not, I was not selected.

    1. These two experiences clearly point towards the gravity of this malaise in society.

  5. The more these things happen the more cynical and hopeless one tends to feel. With corruption entering every single facet of governance the idea of eradicating it - or even containing it - seems too Utopian to even dream of.

    1. I agree Suresh. But courageous steps in the right direction by the political and bureaucratic functionaries can mitigate this to some extent


    1. Unfortunately, even things are not going in the right direction in many countries including India. Latest being the quashing of National Entrance Test (NEET) for medical colleges by Supreme Court both on technical grounds and on certain facts. This will pave way for all the private professional colleges to make money by conducting their own tests. I heard recently that in one such test, students (future doctors) got marks in single digits. But, they will get seats if their parent currencies to the management, preferably in dollars.

  7. Good job Sibi. Unless we have transparency in transfer and posting in civil services this malice will only grow stronger day by day.The Golden rule is that works here is' you show me the Man I will show you the rule'.The upright and straight forward bureaucrats would never get a chance to work in main stream posting where they can make a difference to people.Only submissive and obliging people takes away that.But lets not give Komal(remember me)

    1. Your are right. Thanks Komal for your comments.Who has the courage to break the golden rule?

  8. Comment from Francis Antony received in my inbox:

    Your cyber diary noting on the corruption was appalling. Neither my finance nor my fiance would have allowed me to join Civil services if these conditions existed then in UPSC.
    I remember that in 1984 we selected an ST boy for the post of sweeper. The day of his joining duties, he disappeared. We wrote to Emp. Exchange for a new set of candidates a process that took a month or so. When the new batch appeared, the old boy also re- appeared. We were shocked to learn that he was kidnapped by the henchmen of the chief of his tribe, and locked up with a daughter of the chief till she was found to be pregnant; then marriage solemnized and the boy released to resume duties. Not a bad move as the boy was the first ever to land a govt job from the tribe. The boy remained a group D, but two of his sons are in govt service.
    Some of my juniors used to brag : sir, unlike you who might have got in by your merit I am here because of my connections and I plead, in your own interest, pl do not rub with me. They could use the same line with the public too to extract some thing.
    Honestly I am at a loss to suggest any means to stop the menace of sale of jobs in govt. as long as there are people who are desperately prepared to pay and politico who get into these positions after a life long struggle equally desperate to collect. Lok ayukthas can cause sensation by arresting some one. But nothing effective can be done to stop the menace. Every such report sows the seeds of possibilities in the mind of people.
    Can be a matter of serious discussion.

    The concluding lines of the old Kati Pathang hit can be applicable to matters of corruption at the recruitment level by Selection bodies of Government:
    Majdhar me nayya ddole
    to Majhee paar lagayey
    Majhee joh naav duboye
    thow kaun usey bachayey
    If a boat is rocked by waves midstream
    the boatman can manage to reach you safely to the shore
    But if the boatman himself sinks the boat
    who can save him?

  9. Civil Services an exception to corruption at recruitment? That must be a joke! Just find out how K R Narayayan got into IFS. May not be corruption per se by today's standard but the process certainly remains questionable! And how has those who have joined civil services fared? Firstly let me quote somebody (was it Narayana Murthy of Infy?) who said that there is nothing civil or service about this service. Next, we know that all corruption begins with these babus. Thirdly, since they are supposed to be the mainstay of government administration, whether individually they are corrupt or not they have to be held responsible for all corruption in government. Fourthly, even the much maligned politicians cannot be corrupt without the active support of a babu. Lastly, an most importantly, just look at the way the Right to Information Act has been subverted not only by the babus- the LDCs, UDCs and IASCs- but also by the very information commissioners, most of whom are babus of the IASC variety!

  10. I have felt that lack of corruption on the part of the Individual is rather a personal choice, and the society at large really does not expect it from civil servants or for that matter almost anyone...
    Even peers look oddly at a colleague who stresses on objectivity and probity.

    But I am also convinced that there is a lot of honesty and integrity in public recruitment system and management.

    If that was not so, I am sure neither my son or me would have ever got employed by the Government.

    I remember a personal episode. Years ago I was writing the Department Examination for Incometax Officers, in Chennai.. The exam was on and the candidates were eagerly looking forward for prompting from the invigilators, especially in a complicated accountancy paper.. The invigilators were generous too... after all, the candidates were just their own junior colleagues..
    I was answering the paper fairly well, though perhaps not in the best way.. One or two or the invigilators, who were also friends, were intently peering over my shoulders on my answers, and were trying to convey some words, perhaps to help me..
    Politely, I requested them to leave the paper to be answered on my own..
    After the examination, the friends were furious with me and even scolded me saying that I would never become good..
    Somehow, I cleared the test and survived in the department for three more decades..
    But in retrospect, I do not know whether I was right in refusing help by our social standards..
    Rather, I was afraid of God and divine retribution..
    But again that is an arguable issue by practical standard.. I know, surely I know, the author of the blog, at personal level, would be impractical like me in such issues and always stand stiff against such devious practices...
    But I am sure morals enforced by law would be of little use if there is no binding social audit..
    Many things are winked at..

  11. Its so sad that we have widespread corruption in all agencies of government and in private enterprises as well.How do we weed out corruption?Corruption is the enemy of development,it must be got rid of! And we talk of patriotism,isn't resistance to corruption a sign of being patriotic?


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