When COVID-19 put a strain on the medical fraternity, thousands of temporary appointments were made through the National Health Mission to fight the pandemic.
While this may seem like a good move, doctors and nurses are not enamoured by this temporary show of love for them. Their service is sought during a health crisis like Nipah and COVID, but they are mercilessly and unceremoniously sent away when the situation gets back to normal.
To make matters worse, they are not assured of a job even if they make it to the PSC rank lists.
Two years ago, the PSC had prepared a rank list of DME staffers (appointments to medical colleges) citing an emergency.
Although there were thousands of vacancies that already existed and 2,800 new posts were also announced, the number of appointments made has been less than 900 from the rank list that has 3,800 candidates. Most of those still waiting for a job are on the verge of despair because of the government’s reluctance to make appointments despite vacancies.
The same is the case with the district-wise list of DHS staff nurses. The list came out two years ago, but only 53 appointments have been made in the Alappuzha district so far!
While the wait for nurses seems endless, the hopes of thousands of MBBS job applicants have already been shattered by the government’s refusal to extend the validity of the rank list despite the COVID pandemic.
Out of the main list of 1,972 candidates for the post of assistant surgeons, 1,552 have been recommended for appointment. Candidates say this would be the first time when even those on the main list would not be recruited.
When the government came under intense pressure as the expiry of the rank list neared, it recommended the appointment of 276 candidates in one go.
Since many candidates had made it to multiple rank lists, there were NJD (non-joining duty) vacancies, too. The government issued an order extending the date of their joining despite knowing for sure that they wouldn’t take up the job, thus stalling the chances of those waiting for an appointment.
The rank list expired before the COVID lockdown ended. In short, 400 candidates from the rank list were denied appointments.
The case with the appointment of dental surgeons is no different. Only 19 of 467 candidates have been recruited from the rank list, whose validity will be over on August 29. The government had appointed 120 candidates from the previous rank list.
Even though the government claims it has made a record number of appointments, the recruitments from many important lists have been slow. Now, many of these lists, like the one for Last Grade Servant, are just months away from expiring.
The Last Grade Servant list is one of the biggest rank lists of the PSC. But the number of jobs given based on this list has been reducing over the years as these figures show:
2012- 2015: 12,959 appointments
2015- 2018: 11,304 appointments
2018- 2021: 4,348 appointments (the list will expire in 10 months)
The appointments from the Civic Excise Officer list for the 14 districts in the state have also been very low. Of the 3,205 candidates on the rank list, only 414, or 13%, were recommended for appointment. The lowest number of recommendations — 16 — was made in the Thrissur district. The list has now expired.
The PSC had spent Rs 1.27 crore for conducting the exam in three phases. It has now issued a notice for the next examination.
Officials conceal vacancy details
While appointments are slow as it is, what makes matters worse for job-seekers is the fact that officials hide details about actual vacancies.
The General Education Department seems to think that is the case with at least high school assistant vacancies in government schools.
In a circular sent to the districts on June 30, it states: “Even though there is a suggestion to identify and notify in advance vacancies to be filled through the PSC, it is learnt that many DDOs have not given the complete details fearing that determining posts that need to be filled could reduce the number of vacancies.”
This would be the least comforting for candidates already worried about the many teachers’ rank lists expiring in the coming days.
The PSC had issued an ultimatum saying that any case of retirement, resignation, death, promotion or long leave from the available posts in 2019-20 should be reported to it so as not to deny a job opportunity to candidates on the rank lists.
The order, issued more than a month ago, said the details should be furnished in two days, but many districts are yet to provide them.
The problem now is that even those who were recommended for appointment to higher secondary teachers’ posts months ago are yet to be appointed. The main reason for this is the delay in the promotion process of teachers already in service, officials said.
PSC in a spot
Government decisions affect not only the candidates, but they also cause problems for PSC, too.
The PSC conducted an exam for village extension officers, and about 10 lakh candidates took the exam. The government, however, abolished the post itself when the commission was about to publish the probability list.
The government decided to convert the post of village extension officers into that of clerks as part of its departmental consolidation drive. The PSC is now waiting for clarification from the government on what needs to be done about those who wrote the exam, which was conducted at a cost of Rs 10 crore.
Similarly, there is uncertainty over the appointment of office attendants at the Secretariat. A government-appointed panel of experts had said that the number of office attendants at the Secretariat is high and that some of them currently occupying the post should be redeployed.
While the PSC spends crores in conducting the exam for office attendants, a maximum of only 50 candidates are finally appointed. Now, it is also impossible to say what the future holds for the few people recruited for the post.
Having already issued a notification, the PSC has to now go ahead with conducting the exam even though there will be no big use of it.
Number of appointments falling
Meanwhile, a study of the PSC figures reveals that appointments to many posts have been lower than in the past as can be gauged from the figures below.
(Posts, appointment recommendations from the previous list; appointment recommendations from the current list)
Secretariat Assistant - 1,080; 201 (expires in 19 months).
KSRTC Reserve Conductor - 9,300; no current list.
KSRTC Driver - 4,922; no current list.
Secretariat Computer Assistant - 656; 403 (the current list has expired)
Electricity Board Assistant Engineer - 773; 221 (the current list has expired)
Association debunks CPM leader’s claims
CPM leader MB Rajesh's YouTube video on PSC appointments has become popular for the number of dislikes it has got from candidates. According to the latest figures, 49,000 people have liked the video, while 1.21 lakh people have voted against it.
The Clerk Rank Holders Ideal Association of Kerala (CRIA) has responded to some of the main claims made by Rajesh in the video.
Rajesh said: 1,33,132 appointments were made by the current government in 4 years
What the association says: This is just the count of recommendations for the appointment and it is not the number of actual appointments. Not all those who were recommended for appointment have got a job.
For those who don’t want a job, there is no easy way to register it. Such non-joining duty (NJD) vacancies are also added to inflate the numbers and show them as appointments. Then there are many who have made it to multiple rank lists. If they have received multiple recommendations and those recommendations are added, then the number gets inflated.
Rajesh said: 10,028 more appointments have been made than during the UDF govt.
What the association says: How many vacancies were caused by retirement during the UDF regime and how many people got a job through the PSC? What is the count of retirement vacancies during the last four years of this government and how many of them were filled through the PSC? The actual picture will emerge only if these questions are answered. Why is the government not releasing these figures?
Rajesh said: Appointments are made through the PSC in 52 entities
What the association says: There are many entities that have not framed special rules despite PSC being allowed to make appointments. The number of such organisations and the temporary appointments in them should be disclosed. Has action been taken against any department heads who have not made the special rules?
Rajesh said: 43,842 persons have been recruited through employment exchanges
What the association says: Employability cells affiliated to employment exchanges function in all the districts. These cells make recruitments in many private companies also. This figure includes the appointments made in private companies too.
The series concludes
Contributed by: Renji Kuriakose, Santosh John Thooval, Ramesh Ezhuthachan, SV Rajesh, Min P Jacob, Joji Simon, KP Safina, Jerin Joy, Robin T Varghese, Sajesh Karanattukara, Kapil Raj, Manish Mohan and Sijith Payyannur.
Compiled by: Nidheesh Chandran