| Jharkhand’s Harshika Singh, who secured the eighth position in UPSC 2011, with her parents. (Fotocorp) |
While highlighting the results of the UPSC 2011 exams, the media in Bihar went overboard in praising the achievements of candidates from the state when the need of the hour is serious introspection.
In the last few years, Bihar is gradually slipping down with other states doing extremely well. This is not happening only with the civil services exam, but with other competitions too. Yet mediapersons in Bihar are still living in euphoria and not pointing out where the candidates are lacking.
A handful of examples is enough to prove how the state is faring. For instance, the first, second, third, seventh and 12th positions were bagged by candidates from Haryana and Punjab this year. Nine candidates from the Chandigarh-Panchkula-Mohali Tricity region alone made it to the top 100.
A candidate from Jharkhand, Harshika Singh, secured the eighth position and another from Assam 14th. The best performance of a candidate from Bihar was that of Neha Prakash, who ranked 22nd, and Ujjwal Kumar, who stood 24th. There is none within 100 with the possible exception of Pallav Gopal Jha (93rd), who can make some claim of Bihar connection as his roots are in Katihar in the state but his father is posted in Deoghar in Jharkhand.
In contrast, last year 10 per cent (92) of the total 920, who qualified in the civil services exam, were from Tamil Nadu alone. This included the topper too. In fact, 220 made it to the interview stage in 2010. This year, 170 reached the interview stage. The fall is being attributed to the change in the exam format. Still, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, apart from Haryana and Punjab have, of late, been doing very well.
The problem with Bihar is that there is nobody left to assess and analyse the shortcomings in the state’s performance. Like in the civil services, the above mentioned states have also been doing very well in IIT, CBSE Medical, AIEEE and CAT exams in the last few years. This has pushed Bihar further down.
Several factors are attributed to the rise of these states and the decline of Bihar. In Tamil Nadu, in particular, a large number of boys and girls have now started coming from the rural areas and backward castes too. This phenomenon started several years after the Mandal Commission implementation in 1990.
The bifurcation of Bihar also dealt a big blow to the state as a large number of candidates from Jamshedpur, Ranchi, Dhanbad, Hazaribagh and Bokaro used to qualify in civil services as well other competitive exams.
Amir Subhani, the present home secretary of Bihar, was the topper of the 1987 batch, while Alok Ranjan Jha, who opted for the Indian Foreign Service, topped in 2001. In 2000, Shahla Nigar ranked all-India second.
There is now hardly any good coaching institute for civil services left in Patna after the closure of East and West Academy. In contrast, cities like Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu has seen the mushrooming of a number of them in the last one decade or so. Similar is the situation in several relatively small cities of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Haryana etc.
The irregular manner in which the Bihar Public Service Commission (BPSC) conducts the state civil services exam also drives many aspirants away. In 2009-10, the BPSC held exams of the 48th, 49th, 50th, 51st and 52nd batches together. Similarly, the process of exam of the 53rd to 55th batches is under way. This may sound somewhat funny, but this is the reality and is working as a disincentive for aspirants as a whole. Many of them make preparations for both the UPSC and BPSC.
Besides, there is a shift in perception in Bihar. A large number of students, especially from rural areas and backward castes, are opting for engineering as a profession as they think that it provides jobs instantly. Only a small proportion of them are doing very well in engineering too, but the option of private colleges all over the country –– of course outside Bihar –– is always available. Besides, efforts made by organisations like Super-30, Magadh Super 30, Rahmani-30 etc help talented and laborious boys and girls to crack IIT, AIEEE and other exams. There is hardly any philanthropic effort made for producing civil servants. Lack of industries and absence of good scope for graduates in social science and literature compel an overwhelming percentage of youths to shift outside and get absorbed in lucrative jobs, and do not get any good opportunity to prepare for the civil services.
If in other states, backward caste students have started coming up in good number, in civil services in Bihar this is still not the case, though the situation has somewhat improved. The civil services seem to be the option of upper castes. Candidates from only a couple of backward castes make it a career. However, among backward castes, the craze is confined more or less to Kurmis, Koeris and Banias. They still have a long way to go, it seems.