Honoured by PM, insulted by PSC !
Gold medalists Muzamil and Aatish were dropped by PSC to pick up tail-enders
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
JAMMU, Mar 4: Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh awarded them gold medals for securing the first position and wished them “a bright future” but the B V Sc toppers of Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agriculture Sciences and Technology Jammu (SKUAST-J)---Dr Muzamil Maqbool Baig and Dr Aatish Raina---were not found fit by J&K Public Service Commission (PSC) for the ordinary post of a Veterinary Assistant Surgeon.
While as Muzamil ranked at serial number 3 of the academic merit list among the candidates interviewed in
Srinagar, Raina stood at No: 2 of the merit list among those examined at . When PSC’s selection list came out formally on February 17th, both found themselves dropped. Their veritable surprise came in the fact that the selectors had hand-picked even the poor-merit candidates who figured at Serial No: 136 and 133 of the merit list. Jammu
On occasion of the 3rd annual convocation of SKUAST-J, that came after three years today, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Governor N N Vohra and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah handed over gold medals, degrees and citations to 332 students of the university. They included 23 Ph D scholars. Six of the highest merit students at the degree level---three each in Agriculture Science and Veterinary Science---received gold medals from the chief guest of the convocation and the Prime Minister for securing first position in B Sc Agriculture and B V Sc in the batches of 2008, 2009 and 2010.
In the Veterinary Science discipline, Dr Muzamil, Dr Raina and Dr Nandini Salaria were awarded gold medals for being toppers of the batches 2008, 2009 and 2010 respectively.
While the girl from Kathua, Nandini, is now pursuing her post-graduation at the prestigious National Dairy Research Institute of India (NDRI), Karnal, her seniors, Muzamil and Raina, had nourished sweet dreams of serving as Veterinary Surgeons in their home state while pursuing higher studies in Veterinary Sciences and participating in other competitive examinations.
Exceptionally meritorious, Muzamil, the boy from Dreygam
, passed B V Sc with 83% marks in 2008 and M V Sc with 84.5% marks in 2010. Last year, he also qualified National Eligibility Test (NET) of the Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) with high marks. He also participated in the highest prestigious competitive KAS examination. He was among 35 Veterinary Science graduates and post-graduates who were declared as selected by the PSC on February 7th. All 35, including Dr Muzamil, found themselves dropped when results for selection of Veterinary Assistant Surgeons were declared by the same PSC on February 17th. Out of top 50 in the merit list, only 9 were selected. All others were picked up from those who figured far beyond 50 and 100. village of Budgam
There was one particular difference in conducting the two selections. Less than 15% marks stood reserved for interview for the KAS that was conducted jointly by all members of PSC, including the Chairman. In the case of Veterinary Assistant Surgeons’ selection, only 30 out of 100 marks were reserved for academic merit. There were 5 marks for M V Sc/ Ph D and 5 each for NCC, “experience” and “publications”. As many as 50 marks stood reserved for interview, conducted by two members of PSC and one “expert”. Marking was made with pencils (perhaps for subsequent adjustment) and the process went on without preserving any audio-visual proof of the candidates’ performance.
PSC has justified the selection with the argument that it was an autonomous body, having its own constitution and the process was conducted as per Rule 51 of Business and Procedure Rules that reduces the marks of academic merit (essential qualification level) to 30 but raises the marks of viva to 50.
“The performance of the candidates in the interview varies and on the basis of overall assessment, the selection is made. It is therefore but natural that a candidate with a relatively higher academic merit may not make it to the final selection”, PSC argued in a press release in defence of the selection on February 23rd. What it conveyed to the Prime Ministers’ gold medallists was that no IAS toppers like Dr Shah Faisal could essentially pass PSC’s selection of assistant surgeons in J&K.
“I am obviously relieved with my selection in KAS and today’s gold medal from Prime Minister but I have a huge sense of loss”, Dr Muzamil told early Times. “Inspite of very high merit, I was not selected (as veterinary surgeon) even last year. Two shocks in two years came to me and my parents who thought that a first position at B V Sc and a gold medal were passport to a bright future. My heart is heavy for my successors like Aatish Raina, Sonalika Mahajan (who also got 83.3% with Raina) and now Nandini Salaria who may not be lucky enough to qualify KAS”, Muzamil added. According to him, something “very serious and very urgent” needed to be done to restore faith of high-merit candidates in the selection process.
Son of an elderly farmer of Ranbir Singhpura, namely Jasmit Singh, who earned his living out of working as a private driver until he lost stamina, Aatish Raina also passed an all-India competitive examination among over 10,000 candidates with 3rd highest rank in merit in the country and was subsequently admitted for M V Sc in Animal Genetics and Breeding at the prestigious National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI), Bareily. This Prime Minister’s gold medallist said that he was “already prepared for the shock PSC gave to him and his family”.
“With the selection list on February 17th, we had completely loss faith in all of our systems. Now, we feel a ray of hope as Early Times has exposed what had become a routine at PSC for the last several years”, Raina told this newspaper. He said that the gold medal he received would only intensify the pain of his wounds. “We are far more shocked over the fact that tail-enders, who had ordinary B V Sc degrees and figured beyond 130 in the merit list were selected by the PSC”, Raina added. “Everybody was 100 percent sure of my selection. Now everybody has lost 100 percent faith in PSC”, he said.
SKUAST-J’s batch-2010 topper in B V Sc, Nandini Salaria, seems a little bolder. Financial stability at home may be a reason. Nandini’s father is an accountant in Civil Defence and mother is an employee in the state Agriculture Department. Her brother is a trainee pilot with Indian Air Force after passing a tough competition at
. National Defence Academy
“While participating in all competitions in J&K, we are ready for such worst injustices. There is rampant corruption and most of the institutions, including media, are defunct. Isn’t it a sad statement that all newspapers, except Early Times, and all television channels are completely silent over the injustice done to high-merit veterinary graduates and post-graduates?”, asked she. “I have plans of higher studies but would also participate in the PSC selections---of course bearing in mind that I could be sacrificed for a tail-ender like many of my top merit seniors”.