Consider this as food for thought - what would happen to Albert Einstein's work in quantum mechanics or Maurice Koechlin's contributions to architecture if they were asked and forced to pore over other study materials instead of their own subject matters?
The answer is simple – both would be reduced to hopeless professionals or white-collar employees doing run-of-the-mill jobs without any seminal work for humanity or mankind.
This is what is happening with our BCS cadres who are being railroaded into being jack of all trades, but masters of none. At the end of a strenuous recruitment process, what we get are a bunch of BCS cadres who are very good at regurgitating facts that they have memorised over their university years at exams, but lack the necessary acuity and acumen that are vital for performing the tasks they are being assigned once they are posted to different departments of the state organs including ministries.
It goes without saying that BCS is the most sought-after option right now as far as one's career curve and aspirations are concerned. On top of that, these BCS cadres work for the highest offices of the state organs doing the most serious jobs, insinuating that they must be very adept at what they do and must possess all the expertise necessary to pull off particular tasks of the offices.
The selected candidates are expected to be bureaucrats and high-level technical professionals. Therefore, competent candidates with all the expertise and knowledge necessary to fulfil those duties are meant to be selected for the job.
Naturally, it is expected that this exam will be conducted in a manner that reflects its gravity. The recruitment process is expected to be proper enough to narrow down the candidates based on the requisite skill sets and expertise.
But this does not happen in practice, because one of the biggest problems with the whole process of recruiting first-class BCS cadres is the question pattern of preliminary tests. The silly question patterns are the achilles heel in the BCS recruitment system. Let me explain how.
First, what do you need to fulfil your professional task with precision and efficiency?
Someone willing to perform his duties properly needs expertise corresponding to the particular nature of the job that they have been assigned to. Now as far as BCS candidates are concerned, are the questions set in the preliminary test appropriate for determining the certain skills and knowledge necessary to fulfil those particular duties of the government offices?
The answer is no, because the questions set in the preliminary test are sometimes completely irrelevant for some cadres. In other words, those questions are not at all applicable to the nature of that particular profession or cadre (like administration, police, education, professional cadres etc). For some cadres (professional and education cadres), the preliminary question pattern is entirely irrelevant.
For instance – is it in any way necessary and relevant for a doctor to memorise something related to Bangla or English literature? Does the government need a good doctor or simply an MBBS (who has memorised everything) with no talent or passion for the profession?
Similarly, is it relevant for an engineer to memorise something related to Biology? A standard test should scrutinise whether an engineer has all the necessary expertise and skills to design something immaculately and map out detailed infrastructural plans.
Engineers should be tested on whether they have the expertise to design a bridge with scrupulous attention to detail. Instead, the preliminary test checks whether an engineer can answer the question, "when did Alexander conquer the Indian subcontinent?"
Meanwhile, a pedagogue who will be teaching English at a government college really does not need to have in-depth knowledge about other subjects like Information Technology.
The end product of such a botched-up question pattern for recruiting BCS cadres is a weakened bureaucracy and a system dominated by mismatched people. This is why wrong people are getting appointed to the wrong places.
The country has already started paying the price of such a faulty practice. We have seen incidents of signals being installed on flyovers. People can still remember what happened while constructing the Moghbazar-Mouchak flyover. There were serious flaws in the design, so contractors had to rejig the design and put signals on flyovers.
Due to the incompetence of engineers and other government officials involved in different projects, we often come across news pointing out badly-planned designs or project proposals which require the government to redesign or make adjustments to it.
This shoots up the total cost of completing any project, meaning a good portion of public money goes down the drain due to incompetency of government officers.
What is funny is that even an engineer studying at MIT will fail to qualify for government jobs in our country if they are asked to take the BCS recruitment test. I am sure that a university professor teaching English language and literature will also fail to become a government college lecturer in this process.
There is something terribly wrong with the question pattern followed in recruiting BCS cadres. We need to give this some thought and come up with a more creative and effective recruitment process that ensures the most qualified people get appointed for the most important positions of the state apparatus.
Md Morshedul Alam Mohabat is a columnist who likes to delve deeper into the human psyche and social incongruities with a view to exploring the factors that influence these.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of The Business Standard.