KAS Results: Why Blackmail, Why Fear?

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by Zeeshan Khan

Ideally, I should be preparing for my KAS interview and not writing this piece. But I am not. Instead, I am forced to write this piece due to the campaign of disinformation that has been spread by a section of aspirants who have not been able to secure their seat for the interview stage. I write this because sometimes lies travel half the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes; I write this to clear the air about the Mains result.

In the recent mains exam, around 7000 candidates took the exam. As per the set rules, nearly 960 odd students managed to pass.  Going forward, out of the qualified 960, only 270 or so will make it to the final list. So, if we calculate the odds of passing this exam starting from the mains stage, it is three per cent. However, seen from the Preliminary stage, the pass percentage is a dismal half a per cent. Put another way, 99.5% of the KAS aspirants are destined to lose in the race.

Risky gamble as it is, this is a fact of life when one aspires to take the civil services examination. One embraces the hope of passing and the possibility of failure in equal measure. Not all who take the exam may pass! No wonder they call these exams as UPSC Exams: Uncertain Public Services Exams!

Moving on, let’s discuss why the civil services exam is such a can’t-please-all scenario.

Firstly, as pointed out above, 99.5% of all aspirants will end up dejected. That is just the way it is. Secondly, a lot of our aspirants live in echo chambers. They self-declare their credentials as the best for this exam, prodded perhaps by sympathetic friends and family. Often this is dangerous: One because this grossly under-estimates the capability of one’s competition. And two, one’s ability and intellect can only be judged by an independent body, not by the number of hours you spend cramming up or by self-certification.

Thirdly, the opportunity cost of failing these exams is huge as 3-4 years may be spent preparing with nothing tangible to show for. Your parents want results, your career demands a direction, your peers have moved along, etc. It can be mentally frustrating. To that extent, sympathies are in order.

The recent disinformation campaign, not unsurprisingly, doesn’t acknowledge the above stark realities. It doesn’t aim at acceptance or upholding values of perseverance and grace in defeat. It is sinister. It essentially argues that I-feel-I-must-Pass-and-if-I-don’t-then-the-system-is-flawed. We say this because it has been claimed by many aspirants that “the results are not acceptable to them.”

An anecdote is in order: A no non-sense Ex-Chairman of UPSC when questioned about the functioning of PSCs in India said that it is an aspirant who goes to the PSCs for jobs, not the other way around. Hence, an aspirant must trust the process as it is. PSCs have their own ways of working and must manage a tightrope walk between transparency and confidentiality, accountability and autonomy, merit and expectations of the aspirants.

Surely, this doesn’t mean that PSCs can take the aspirants for a ride. In the current exam, unfortunately, a discrepancy was found in the answer key at the Prelims stage which was rectified later by the PSC. Later, after sustained public pressure the JKPSC has agreed to vital and long demanded reforms such as: Bringing the UPSC style exam pattern for KAS exam, reducing the turnaround time for results, opting for statistical normalizing to bring equity between various optional papers, and opting for, so claimed, error-free on-screen mode of paper checking. Note that these are standard practices adopted variously by UPSC and other State Public Service Commissions. What then are the real reasons for this hungama?

Zeeshan Khan

Selfishness. Self-Delusion. Self-Serving outlook. And an I-Me-Myself attitude. Forgive me for the harsh words used. A lot of self-appointed leaders of the current rabble-rousing are fair weather supporters of JKPSC, choosing sides conveniently. We could point out the embarrassing details but our cause is too noble to be let down by ad-hominem.

(The author is a KAS aspirant. The opinion is personal)

Note: Picture used in this essay is merely representational and has no direct link with the subject matter of this opinion.

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