November 14, 2021 | 05:22 IST


Alexandre Moniz Barbosa

There are several ways to approach the news that the 23 candidates who appeared for the interview for the position of President of the Administrative Tribunal were all deemed unsuitable. This is, of course, news that, at the very least, would raise eyebrows anywhere. What’s ironic about all of this is that all 23 candidates who applied for the job had the required educational qualifications, including a master’s degree in law, so that wasn’t the hurdle they shied away from. What stood between them and the position they aspired to was the panel that interviewed them, which found them unsuitable for the position. The first thought on hearing what happened is reminiscent of the incident in 2018, when all 8,000 applicants for the position of assistant accountant in a government department in Goa failed the written exam. They, too, had the necessary qualifications for the position, but found the test to be an obstacle that they could not overcome.

So one way of looking at it is to question the educational system, in this case the bachelor of laws and the master’s degree which, for all intents and purposes – we can deduce from this episode – does not create worthy lawyers to occupy a position of president of the court administration. It turns out that obtaining a law degree has become very easy or maybe those who are able were not interested in the position? Radharao Gracias, a lawyer, referring to this news posted on a social media site stating, “A good number of law graduates display extremely poor abilities and many are unable to draft simple petitions. The same lawyer demanded a rigorous entrance test for admission to the law course. This makes sense because since there are entrance exams for most professional courses, shouldn’t there be one for the law course? However, the entrance test may not be the complete solution to the problem, the education system also needs to be revamped, even upgraded to create more competent lawyers.

Besides the entrance test, shouldn’t the professors of law courses who then teach law students also bear the responsibility of ensuring that only candidates worthy of the profession receive degrees? The harsh truth is that students who leave college portals are not deemed worthy of employment when faced with a competitive system.

So what does this say about recruitment in ministries where merit is not the key to appointment, but where only qualification is? The Goa government is in the midst of a recruitment campaign where 10,000 positions in various departments are to be filled by the end of next month. The process is currently underway. The rejection of all the candidates by the selection panel for the President of the Administrative Tribunal does not lead to the belief that recruitments in the administrations will provide competent personnel. As a corollary to this, it is also not reassuring that Goa’s heavy bureaucracy will ever improve. Just days ago, Chief Minister Dr Pramod Sawant led a scathing attack on government employees, saying some were unnecessarily circulating government records across various ministries, delaying decisions. He gave the example of the salaries of temporary teachers and AYUSH doctors which remained on hold because of this. He warned government officials to speed up the movement of files and said the efficiency of officials needed to improve.

The efficiency of the bureaucracy will only show signs of improvement when recruitment in the public sector is based on merit and not on mere qualifications or political connections. Despite numerous rejections of government recruitment based on political connections, even a cursory glance at how appointments are made has evidence of corruption. Therefore, the entire government recruitment system needs to be changed if the bureaucracy is to show signs of improvement. Recruitment in government should be done openly and the way private business seeks out the best talent. Also, promotion in the public sector cannot simply be based on years of experience, but performance must be a higher priority. It is very common to see government employees move up the ladder simply because of the years of service they have completed. This does not happen in the public sector where performance is the criterion. The result of efficiency is then obvious.

The harsh truth is that Goa’s education system is not producing employable young people. There are too many applicants for the jobs available, but when they are not deemed suitable, is it the applicants who are to blame or is it the system that produced these graduates and post-graduates? It is most likely the latter and it needs to be fixed urgently. The rejection of candidates for the position of President of the Administrative Tribunal is a direct reflection of the appalling quality of education in the State and not only in the law sector. This raises the question of what graduates coming out of colleges in Goa are capable of. The University of Goa, its Academic Council and all colleges affiliated to the sole state university must take note of this situation.

Given that this is the second time that all likely candidates for government office have been found unfit – post of President of the Administrative Tribunal and earlier for accounting assistants – it is worth explaining what went wrong. worked in the education system. We also come back to the question of whether those who are competent prefer not to enter the civil service or government posts. It is implausible that there are no lawyers in Goa capable of filling the post of President of the Administrative Tribunal, it is just that the cream of them did not apply for the post . Goa is lucky that the interview committee was harsh with the process and therefore rejected everything else an incompetent person might have been appointed. But, it still largely exposes the issue of the quality of education in the state.

Alexandre Moniz Barbosa is Editor-in-Chief, Herald. He tweets at @monizbarbosa

Janice G. Ball