Tuesday, July 31, 2012


As far back as half a century ago,  you finished high school and matriculation, and as a matter of course , went over to a college of your choice and took admission. The admissions were always on merit, and you never had to fight for places in admission queues, fee queues, neither were you part of any queues that went around a college building.  The only entrance test one heard about then, was the JEE for IIT's, and folks studied for it, appeared for tests, and got selected, in the normal course of life, without the family having to alter its bank balance,domicile or peace of mind drastically.  

Today, there are entrance tests for everything, like medicine, engineering, management schools, and even hospitality institutes. Every summer sees an exodus of people travelling across the country to join up at various institutes they've never seen before, simply because that was the admission on offer. Many years later , young people again sit for placement tests and interviews, in order to get their first job. By definition, you are presumed to be no good, until you prove yourself otherwise, by sheer dint of hard work, dedication, a thick skin, and sometimes, blindness and deafness of the appropriate type.

And then one sees  certain folks who have a choice of jobs on offer, with absolutely no educational and/or work experience to speak off. What is even more amazing, is that there is a clamour from certain quarters that these folks take up the jobs, and there are influential folks who do what may be called  "appraisals" and give full marks, even before a single day has been spent on the job.

Which brings us to the subject of entrance tests for folks who choose to get elected by the public for  public service. (And not the bureaucratic types)

A person aspiring for such service today must declare, mostly his documented wealth, his pending court cases , his convictions (in court and not in his mind), and as an afterthought, his educational qualifications.  Unlike for the hoi-polloi , no one really checks these educational qualifications  with the Institutes that granted them, and they become the subject of court litigation by opponents later on, wasting the judiciary's time.

Why not design an aptitude, plus advanced test for those wishing to stand for election ?  They could choose subjects as diverse as agriculture, banking, industry, culture, public utilities , womens' issues, health care and management, education, food, arts, children's welfare, computer applications ,  wireless communication etc   in the advanced stream,  while the common entrance test would be of school leaving level ( regardless of whether you went to school). 

A passing score could be valid for 10 years, allowing you to fight a minimum of two elections, and maximum decided by the inefficiency level of the government of the day.

Like everyone who undertakes a public sector job these days, let these candidates also undergo a medical fitness test.  Fit mind in a fit body and all that.

Today, there may be a fine mismatch  between a person's abilities and the responsibilities assigned to him in the government, since most appointments may possibly be done on other compulsions in political life.

But just like other  appointments in government where interview committees and boards  sit in on selection, why not have something like Parliament ratify and approve appointments, in a public session ?  (This happens in the US where the President's appointments to his cabinet, must pass through approval by the Senate etc).

And so it would be interesting to see things like, Lalu Prasad Yadav asking Mukul Roy difficult Railway questions, and say a previous External affairs type asking the current chosen one, his views on our neighbors, Burundi, G-8 etc ; or even some tough Parliamentarians asking the concerned candidates their views on  rural health care, water supply , food shortages , armed forces benefits and welfare , environment etc.

Stupid me. It's wishful thinking.  Any such stuff  might simply  be fought tooth, nail, running into the well of Parliament,  possibly flinging of microphones, tearing of papers,  fisticuffs and maybe , declaring a Bandh .....

Will this happen ?  I don't know.  Notice how no mention has been made here of lakhs and crores.

I was talking about lakhs and crores of people.

I guess they only understand lakhs and crores of  votes, currency, and scams.


  1. Tests for ministers? Not likely to happen here in India!

    Ministers are inducted into the Cabinet because of considerations of caste, region, gender, or of party(in a coalition govt).

    Once in the Cabinet, it's simply a game of Musical chairs- one ministry today, another tomorrow. Really doesn't matter whether one is knowledgeable about the portfolio or not.....

  2. Lalu asking questions of the present Railway minister is the richest fantasy! He sure can, provided he has enough knowledge :) As Manju has pointed out, ministries are allotted based on the considerations she has listed but she has left out one thing: the more corrupt and scam-prone the minister, the better chances of a plum posting. Look at the reshuffle going on at the Centre.