Another Maha Govt recruitment drive sparks controversy


Bombay: After a few anxious weeks spent waiting and coordinating with the Maharashtra health service, Tanaji Telange, a resident of Nanded, finally got his tickets for the exams of two “C” group positions in the department for which he had been assigned. applied. However, the examination center was in Paithan in Aurangabad district, nearly 300 kilometers from his home.

Even as Telange was working on the logistics to attend the exams, scheduled for Saturday, September 25, he was told of a new exam center. It was 50 kilometers further.

Telange, 26, who is running for the junior clerk and operating room assistant positions, received three different room tickets instead of two. All mentioned different locations and different exam times. He was taken aback.

Another candidate, Datta Patukar, was told of an examination center 1,500 kilometers away in Noida, Uttar Pradesh. For another candidate, the experience was even more surreal. He was issued a blank entry ticket, with just the PIN code of Yutan village in China mentioned on it.

These exams were the first to be held in five years by the Department of Health to fill over 6,250 vacancies in the C and D categories. Over 8 lakh aspirants from across the state applied for these publications, only to encounter chaos and errors.

It is the latest in a series of reviews conducted by the Maharastra government that have become bogged down in confusion, controversy and allegations of fraud and mismanagement.

The chaos, however, has been called a “minor technical problem” by Maharashtra Minister of Health Rajesh Tope.

When candidates pushed back and launched a social media campaign exposing the department’s apparent lack of seriousness in conducting the exam, Tope was forced to abruptly cancel the exam late on the night of September 24.

Previously, Tope claimed that for a brief period, the server was accessed somewhere in Uttar Pradesh, causing an error in exam centers on some room tickets. However, he had no explanation as to how a PIN from China was printed on a few hall tickets. Later that night, as he announced the cancellation of the exam, Tope blamed Nysa Communications, the private company hired by Maharashtra Information Technology Corporation Limited or “MahaIT” to organize these competitive exams at the level of the State.

MahaIT is the nodal agency of the government of Maharashtra which manages recruitment for several positions in the state government. The health department is also conducting its review via MahaIT. Although the agency was created to “strengthen the effective and efficient implementation of information and communication technology initiatives and to establish a strong framework of e-governance ecosystem”, it has been bogged down. in many controversies since its inception.

Hall tickets showing the examination centers in Noida, a village in China which is completely pristine. Photo: The wire

Thread repeatedly tried to contact Puneet Kumar, the CEO of Nysa Communications, but got no response. The story will be updated as Nysa Communications responds to Thread queries.

During the previous government led by Devendra Fadnavis in the state, the department signed contracts with private companies like the American IT company “UST Global” and an Indian company “Arceus Infotech Private Limited” – both of which were charged. embezzlement and involvement in a “Vyapam-type scam” which was exposed by Thread. The department has yet to clear his name from alleged past wrongdoing.

Tope’s sudden decision to cancel the exam late last night may have temporarily contained the chaos, but failed to take into account the anxiety, confusion and frustration that more than 8 lakh candidates have been subjected to at the during the process.

In the past year, almost every state exam has had similar issues. On February 28, as the Department of Health conducted another round of examinations, several wannabes were accused of blatant cheating using sophisticated microphones and scanners. In several centers, questionnaires arrived late; in some places the seals have been forged. Several FIRs were registered throughout the state, and several candidates and center management officials were arrested.

Likewise, last month, during the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) exams for grade C and D positions, several student organizations highlighted the turbulent past of the private company Aptech Limited hired to organize the exams.

Aptech has previously been blacklisted by the governments of Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, but has still been taken over by MahaIT to conduct reviews in Maharashtra. The Allahabad High Court and Delhi High Court have also made scathing observations against the company, demanding that appropriate legal action be taken against it.

Following allegations, MIDC was forced to cancel part of its exams and wrote to MahaIT asking for an explanation. MIDC officials confirmed that MahaIT in turn wrote to Aptech to vacate their booth. No action has been taken against the company to date.

Several candidates have reported allegations of widespread exam fraud in Maharashtra. Illustration: Pariplab Chakraborty

Vigilant Students Forum

Student organizations like “MPSC Samanvay Samiti” and “Yuva Halla Bol” have been at the forefront in exposing the system and amplifying the demands of aspirants. Nilesh Gaikwad, BTech graduate from Buldhana District, also a member of MPSC Samanvay Samiti, says the students are doing what the government should ideally do.

“It used to be UST Global. Now it’s Aptech and Nysa. Companies can only be incorporated if they meet the various criteria defined in the contract. Obviously, the department overlooked the glaring shortcomings and formed companies that were unfit to conduct full-scale reviews, ”he said.

The delay in holding these exams resulted in an increase in vacancies in different departments and unrest among students. Not only the MahaIT but also the Maharashtra Civil Service Commission (MPSC) failed to organize the exams on time. The delay in holding these exams was cited as the reason by several self-destructive aspirants. In November and December 2020 alone, at least six separate incidents of aspirants who died by suicide came to light.

Telange, who already works as a Group D worker and eventually hopes to move into the Group C position, says the government’s failure to ensure a fair review process has caused a whole generation to fail. “Aspirants, mostly from rural areas, wait years to pass these exams. Most of us are the children of landless farm workers, who have worked hard for years to make a decent life. And when it’s time for us to take these exams, the state administration lets us down, ”Telange explained.

In October of last year, Thread published a detailed investigative article into fraud in the state recruiting campaign led by the previous Devendra Fadnavis government, which in complexity and scope was comparable to the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board scam, more commonly known as Vyapam scam. ThreadThe findings of the investigation were corroborated by former Ahmednagar collector Rahul Dwivedi and a private auditing firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), hired by the state in 2018 to audit the recruitment drive. The investigation prompted the state government to screen previously incorporated private companies. The problem, however, persisted.

Student organizations demanded that the state government completely remove private actors and that all exams be managed by the MPSC. Gaikwad believes, “At least we would be able to demand accountability and there would be some transparency in the process.

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