Dr. Dinesh Dasa , ‘Mr. Reliable’ for millions of Govt job aspirants, demits GPSC top office today

By Japan K Pathak, Gandhinagar

Dr. Dinesh Dasa, the Chairman of Gujarat Public Service Commission (GPSC) demits Office today, the 31st January, 2022. During his six years’ tenure as a Chairman, the GPSC has undertaken the recruitment process of 827 advertisements for around 24,000 posts in various cadres wherein more than 62 lakh youths attempted their luck. Though the government would wish Dr. Dasa to continue, the Constitutional provision would not allow it as a Chairman of the State Public Service Commission shall hold office for a term of six years or until he attains, the age of sixty-two years, whichever is earlier. Also, reappointment of same person is not possible after expiration of term as per the provisions made in Article-316 of the Constitution of India.

While countdown of Dr. Dasa’s exit is on, hundreds of tweets and number of YouTube comments by aspirants are expressing displeasure over his departure from GPSC, which reflect that 47-year old Dinesh Dasa has earned extra-ordinary goodwill during his tenure. Scores of aspirants are voicing their opinion in online comments that it would be hard for the State government to find an equally competent and dependable replacement to head GPSC, particularly in the light of some paper leak incidents in the other recruitment body – Gaun Seva Pasandagi Mandal in recent years. However, those who are in know of GPSC affairs believe that thanks to some systemic changes Dr. Dasa has made with a long-term vision, GPSC will continue to enjoy high trust of aspirants. Dr. Dasa himself also believes that the thought has been institutionalized.

In his earlier avatar before he took over GPSC, Dr. Dinesh Dasa had personally observed that how the absence of a TDO (Taluka Development Officer), stalled the survey of affordable rural housing scheme in one tribal pocket in South Gujarat, which further blocked the release of the second installment for poor beneficiaries, and how its spiral effect resulted into social and even political consequences on the ground there.

In fact, Dr. Dasa has in the mission statement on GPSC website, stated, ‘Different bodies involved in conducting Civil Service Examinations at the State and the National level are not merely job portals where young aspirants come with expectations to get a job but they are an important thread in the socio-economic fabric of the governance. In a layman’s terms, a Public Service Commission may be mere exam conducting body responsible for various recruitment procedures. However, it is expected that a Public Service Commission envisages its role and importance beyond that common understanding in the Civil Society. The Public Service Commissions are an integral part of the social justice system and hold special importance in the process of governance and success of the democracy which our founding fathers envisaged. Millions of hopes and dreams rest on functioning of these bodies. Therefore, reliability, validity and above all transparency in the examination system should be the top most priority. It is also upon the Public Service Commissions to create a guiding thrust which fulfills the expectations of the society by the officers it recruits.’

There was a time when an advertisement for recruitment if published in year 1971, the process would complete as late as in 1976. Same way, for the recruitment ads of year 1976, the results would be out as late as in 1984. The recruitment ads of year 1983 would result into recruitment in 1989 and so on. Such long process would be popularly called ‘Panchvarshiya Yojana’ (a five-year plan). The students would not be able to plan the path of their career. Even their match-making and marriage plans would be stuck in ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’.

In this light, at the end of his term, Dr. Dasa is more excited about the social changes that resulted as a by-product of well-performing GPSC. GPSC has initiated few innovative steps that have helped in the overall image makeover of the Commission. For example, the uncertainty of the examinations’ announcement and the result thereof not only demotivate the young aspirants but also affect the quality of human resources to be recruited. To end this uncertainty and to raise the level of competition, the Commission has announced the full recruitment calendar mentioning the date of notification, date of preliminary/main examinations, the tentative month of their result, schedule of interviews etc. at the beginning of the year. Due to well-advanced calendar and scheduling of exams, the students can now get clarity over their path of career. When Dr. Dasa took over GPSC and decided to release a calendar of recruitment, he was warned about risk of complexity and uncertainties. However, he went ahead and proved that if there’s sufficient willingness, there are ways to do it. GPSC’s interview model is widely acknowledged among all strata of society; we have introduced On Screen marking in interviews. The commission constitute multiple boards for interviews. Boards for the candidates and experts are decided thorough lottery draw system just before the commencement of interviews. This process is repeated daily. The GPSC has done away interviewing the candidates along with all personal details such as name, surname, caste, creed, place of birth etc. Instead, there will be unique barcodes which would serve as the sole identity of the respective candidates throughout the interview.

GPSC has started uploading OMR answer sheets within few hours of examination is over. The Commission has launched a candidate friendly system namely i-ASS (Integrated Application Scrutiny System) wherein candidates need not to come to the Commission office to submit their documents once they clear preliminary test. At commission office, the officials would do Online scrutiny of the uploaded documents and would publish the list of eligible/ineligible candidates. i-ASS has recently won the prestigious SKOCH SILVER awards for Governance for 2021. Regarding the advertisements wherein the selection is based only on the written examinations, and wherein there is no provision of interview, the candidates wouldn’t have to come to GPSC Office even once. Many called it as an example of faceless administration. GPSC has decided to move to CBRT (Computer Based Recruitment Test) from present P&P (Paper and Pencil) mode in selected exams where size of the candidates is limited. Thus, right from inviting applications up to the preparation of final result, the Commission has made the entire process Online. Our social media presence is being welcomed by the candidates.

One of significant initiatives was to upgrade the syllabus of GPSC exams. Prof. David Syiemleh, the then Chairman of central government’s top recruitment body UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) in year 2017 observed that the exam pattern and syllabus for conducting Civil Service Exams are different in the States of India and it was realized that there is a need for uniformity for quality enhancement. He observed that GPSC is doing well and on some occasions at par with UPSC. He constituted a committee under the Chairmanship of Shri Dinesh Dasa for preparing a model draft of Civil Service Exam Syllabus and Exam pattern. The report prepared by Dinesh Dasa Committee was accepted unanimously at Goa National Conference in January, 2018. Due to upgraded level of question papers, GPSC aspirants can now prepare for UPSC exams in sync. Dr. Dasa also headed the Standing Committee of National Conference of Chairpersons of State Public Service Commissions. It was for the first time that a person from Gujarat headed this body.

One of advises as a Chairman of Standing Committee, Dr. Dasa would give to chairpersons of recruitment bodies of various states was regarding active social media presence. Dr. Dasa believes that social media is a gift of 21st century to human beings. Dr. Dasa was active twitter user even before joining top office of GPSC. After taking over the isolated and aloft in nature office like Chairman GPSC, he didn’t stop using twitter but used it efficiently in twin-way; to communicate to aspirants, and to receive their feedback. Dr. Dasa says that many times feedback are very useful. For Example, the GPSC had declared 12th December, 2021 as a date of Gujarat Civil Service Preliminary Exam, but there were scores of aspirants made representation that there were many weddings on that day. The date was changed to 19th December, 2021. As the Gram Panchayat elections were announced the same day few days later, the date was eventually changed to 26th December, 2021. Dr. Dasa says that Social media helps in improving internal working system of the Commission. Even if security guard or any other official does not behave to the expectations of the candidates who have come to GPSC Office for their grievances, they would simply tweet tagging Chairman and GPSC Official Handle and their grievances would be addressed. He would insist staffers for human approach and best possible behave with aspirants. But how did he get time to check the feedback? Dr. Dasa replies he would sacrifice his entertainment time and allot it for checking feedback.

In fact at GPSC Bhavan, there’s a big feedback-book kept on the reception table and there are pages full of feedback penned down by aspirants who were here for interviews. The aspirants don’t require to mention their name and details while sharing their feedback. The candidates have shared their very positive experiences and at the same time also made some suggestions.

Dr. Dasa also made effective use of Government owned media – Doordarshan. Whenever he would smell need to go to the aspirants to address their concerns, he would appear on regional TV channel of Doordarshan at prime time interview programme and take queries of aspirants via live phone-in. Such programmes would be so popular that the anchor-host would get hundreds of new followers on his twitter in no-time.

Masters in Forestry from Navsari Agriculture University and PhD in Forest Laws & Sustainable Development, Dr. Dasa was three-term syndicate member in Veer Narmad South Gujarat University. He was Director of Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Ltd for six years. He played pivotal role in the transformation of tourism infrastructure at Southern Gujarat hill station Dang. Professionally he was associated with Life Insurance Corporation as an Officer. In April, 2015, he was appointed as the member of GPSC. Dr. Dasa had started preparations for competitive exams in 1992 when he was in college and he continued to prepare for GPSC after the college. He had a quest in mind that why GPSC exams were not conducted every year like UPSC. After his taking over as a Chairman of the GPSC, the candidate got 20-25 opportunities to get in to the Government through GPSC.

When asked about some disappointments he felt during his tenure, Dr. Dasa recalls the recruitment of doctors for government facilities. He says the number of candidates was less than the number of vacancies. It never happens in other GPSC recruitment. The other disappointment was the one and half year period of covid-19 pandemic which disturbed the schedule. When asked what hurts him, he replied that some candidates selected by GPSC were arrested for taking bribes by the Anti-Corruption Bureau later after they joined the government. Isn’t there any full-proof remedy in the selection process for choosing only honest candidates? Dr. Dasa says, unfortunately not! The candidates who present themselves during recruitment interviews as if they are the heir of Mahatma Gandhi, later are found taking bribes by ACB. Dr. Dasa adds that UPSC had once added the paper of ethics. A candidate who topped in that subject was selected for Indian Police Service(IPS). Unsatisfied with his score, he later reappeared in another recruitment exam to try his luck for IAS. And he was caught cheating in that exam. Dr. Dasa says it is disheartening when a candidate is selected through a complete impartial and transparent process, and one day he is found taking bribes. When asked whether he is satisfied with the recruitment he made during his GPSC tenure, Dr. Dasa replies, ‘I will also need to visit the government offices as a layman after I step down, and I will find the answer through my experiences.’

When asked what was most satisfying, he replies, the social impact and positive contribution to State’s governance, these two aspects are most important. Today there are Gram Panchayats who have started a library to help aspirants, as exams are conducted regularly by GPSC. Newer reading halls are coming up. Community organizations are building hostels and reading halls for aspirants. The entire eco-system has come up which may also benefit the UPSC aspirants. Well-functioning GPSC has also strengthened the governance of the State.

All recruitment under his tenure went event-free and without any case of paper leak. Dr. Dasa says it was a matter of luck, but personal care and attention played a role too. He says he would drive to check the printing press where papers would go for printing, in his own way so that there are no log entries of the Chairman’s visit in the GPSC register. The entire system would be under his personal supervision.

To this, Devanshi Joshi, a young journalist working with Sandesh new channel, who actively reports the recruitment affairs, observes that suppose if GPSC paper is even leaked about two-three hours prior to the exam, the level of the paper is so high and it is so well-crafted that one would not be able to find all solutions immediately.

She and other journalists of private media houses (TV9 , News18 Gujarati ) could all get exit interviews of Dr. Dasa in the last fortnight of his tenure, as Dr. Dasa otherwise during his term would intentionally stay detached most of the time. At the end of his term, Dr. Dasa says his job demanded his isolation and he is very thankful to all those friends and colleagues who understood this well and were very cooperative. It’s time to mix with them again, says Dr. Dasa who plans to spend a lot of time at his home back in Navsari.

About a decade ago, Dr. Dasa was at MS University to speak on a book ‘Minor hints’. In the question answer session, he said, ‘our one good cricketer retired when he was in full form. The people asked why you retired so early when a lot of cricket was left to be played by you? The cricketer replied that one should retire when people would ask why he retired so early and not when people ask when this man would retire. So one should retire at an appropriate time and go to the places to tour, as we have many such good places.’

Dr. Dasa is indeed retiring from GPSC on high note and high repute. But at 47, he is definitely not retiring on the whole. In what role he will be utilized next, is a matter of curiosity for millions of youths and a matter of time in general, we assume. DeshGujarat

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Annexure:

Gujarat Public Service Commission at a Glance:

The Public Service Commissions are not merely job portals where young aspirants come with an expectation to get a job but they are an important thread in the socio-economic fabric of the governance. It is expected that a Public Service Commission envisages its role and importance in the civil society. The GPSC works with this vision and understanding of its role in good governance and has taken certain revamping steps in its functioning as follows:

1. Publishes advance calendar for each year:

• Uncertainty of the examinations’ announcement and result there of not only demotivate the young aspirants but also affect the quality of Human Resource to be recruited. To end uncertainties and to raise the level of competition, the GPSC has started announcing the full recruitment calendar mentioning the date of notification, date of preliminary/main examinations, tentative month of their result, schedule of interviews etc. in the beginning of the year from April 2016. The commission has also resolved to announce final result within 10 days of completion of the interviews. The Examination Calendar helps the candidates and also to the concerned administrative department in planning better to recruit. In last six years, the commission has successfully processed 827 advertisements for 24382 posts wherein 62,05,500 candidates had registered.

2. Proactive disclosure of scanned OMR Sheets within 24 Hours of exam and Answer Booklets on request:

• The Commission uploads OMR answer sheets of the exam conducted on the same day or maximum on the next day depending upon the number of candidates. This is followed by the declaration of the Provisional Answer Key immediately on the next day so that the candidates are absolutely doubtless regarding the assessment procedure and can make a self-evaluation.

The scanned Answer books are also given to the candidates proactively who wish to get it on payment basis. The option of e-payment and through post office challan is also kept for payment.

3.Transparent Interview Process by barcode & Unique ID code:

• The GPSC ensures transparency and accuracy in all the systems leaving no room for doubt by sensitising the stakeholders about the objectivity of the procedures. The interview is considered to be the most subjective and decisive stage of the recruitment process. The GPSC brainstormed and decided to make sure that the entire interview process becomes thoroughly transparent and free from any type of influence, favour, prejudice or whatsoever.

The interviews are based on random sampling and lottery method, both for the candidates and the panel experts. All the candidates called for the interview are seated in a hall and asked to randomly pick up sequel numbers. Thereafter the candidates are called to a waiting room as per the sequel number and their mobile phones and other electronic devices are deposited. Just 5 minutes before the commencement of their interview, the candidates are asked to randomly pick up a chit deciding the interview board. Once interview board is decided, the candidates would be once again asked to randomly pick up the unique barcode, which becomes the sole identity of the candidate throughout the interview process. It is worth mentioning that GPSC has done away intervening the candidates along with all personal details such as name, surname, caste, creed, religion, place of birth etc. The candidate is then escorted to the waiting area of the respective interview board. On being called up for the interview, the candidate would proceed to the interview hall and introduce themselves with barcode only without divulging any personal details. Barcoding, of the candidate, personal details (Name, Caste, Background) are kept secret for the interview panel to nullify the effect of the same on any decision and thereby to ensure maximum possible transparency. The interview panel is handed over only a list of unique codes sheets instead of the names of the candidates wherein the marks allotted are written. Thus, till the last minute, the candidate is neither aware of the board in which s/he will have to appear for the interview nor about his/her identity during the course of the interview.

4. Transparent nomination of Board Members:

• This line of transparency is extended in the case of the interview experts as well. They are allotted different interview boards every day using a draw system. Even the experts are not aware until five minutes prior to the start of the interview, about the boardroom in which s/he will be interviewing the candidates and who would be his/ her colleagues. This equal probability method is repeated every day which ensures that no one comes to know about which board and team of interviewers they would be with.

5. Digital assessment of descriptive papers:

• Assessment of descriptive papers is always time-consuming, to ensure reliability by involving competent examiners and to make the assessment process speedy, the GPSC has adopted a digital way of assessment using secure digital assessment services. The examiners have access to only assigned questions and can assess from anywhere anytime. This has enabled the Commission to complete the assessment process much faster. After completion of the selection process, the candidates could also have access to their answer sheet on request, ensuring them total transparency in the recruitment process.

6. Transparent & Responsible Presence on Social Media Platform (Website, Mobile Application & Twitter):

• The success of any organization depends on ‘access’; access to the information and facilities to the common man. Considering the fact that more than 90% candidates use internet on cell phones, the GPSC is active on Mobile Application, Twitter and our websites is mobile responsive. The GPSC is intensively using technology for the recruitment of quality human resource that shall, in return, make the administration simple and accessible. Right from the announcement of the examination to filling up the form to paying the fees, the GPSC has collaborated with the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology for sending SMS.

• For reaching the candidates more effectively and transparently

• To avail the benefit of fast and diligent communication

• To have constant feedback on recruitment process and different publications of the GPSC i.e.
advertisements, syllabus etc.

• Addressing the grievances of the candidates

• Feedback mechanism for all the commitments adhered by the PSC.

• An efficient one to one mode of communication 24 X 7, 365 days.

• Re-addressal can be effective and in shorter time.

7. Pioneered Model Examination Pattern and Syllabus for Civil Service Examination for the Country:

The GPSC has pioneered in drafting model examination pattern & syllabus for the Civil Service Examination across the country. It is worth stating that in the meeting of the Standing Committee, a 9 members body representing 29 State PSCs, held at Shillong, Meghalaya on 27th May, 2017, it was observed that the exam pattern and syllabus for conducting Civil Service Exams are different in the States of India and it was realized that there is a need for uniformity for quality enhancement. A sub-committee under the Chairmanship of Shri Dinesh Dasa, Chairman, GPSC was constituted and handed over the task of preparing a model draft.

The committee deliberated enough and subsequently submitted its report in the meeting 20th National Conference of the Chairpersons of all the State PSC held at Goa on 12th and 13th January 2018. Where it was accepted unanimously. The proposed draft is almost in the line of the UPSC examination while retaining regional diversity by giving due importance to the State-specific
topics/issues viz. history, culture, geography, economy and other relevant sectors of knowledge.
The GPSC boldly decided to do away with the traditional system of optional subjects in the State Civil Service exams from 2017. The syllabus is comprehensive and addresses the assessment expectations of integral knowledge for a job profile but simultaneously covers the syllabus of the UPSC and other PCSs and thereby helping the candidates to prepare for different exams. Moreover, it promotes an equal level playing opportunity for the candidates from various branches of the study while mitigating chances of grievances due to scaling & legal issues arising out of it to a great extent. Thus, the reforms implemented by the GPSC are now being adopted by other PSCs across India. It has helped the candidates from various States to get through the UPSC Civil Service Examination easily as the candidates doesn’t have to prepare separately for the State PSC & UPSC examination.

8. Inclusion of 50% weightage of Preliminary Test Marks in making of the final merit:

• 1st August 2016 was a crucial day as the Commission decided to include 50% weightage of the marks obtained in the Preliminary Test and 50% weightage of marks obtained in the Interview in preparation of the final merit list. As before final merit list was prepared on the basis of marks obtained in the Interview which could not justify the marks obtained by the candidates in the Preliminary Test. Hence, a paradigm shift was there for all the Direct Recruitments.

9. Integrated Application Scrutiny System: (iASS)

• After the declaration of the results of the preliminary exams, the eligible candidates for written (Mains) exam and/or Interview are required to submit their certificates and documents for needful authentication and verification by the Commission. Earlier the candidates used to send their documents either by post or submit the same in person at GPSC Office, it was a tiresome and quite expensive process. Moreover, the possibility of documents getting lost or missing in post during the transit or delay in arrival. To eliminate all such problems and to make the process swift in favour of the candidates, Integrated Application Scrutiny System (iASS) – an online document submission portal developed by the Gujarat Public Service Commission which has recently won the prestigious SKOCH SILVER awards for Governance for 2021.

The iASS, not only eased out the candidates’ problems but it helped the Commission in eliminating staff involved in sorting, delivering, bunching the applications at registry and branch level and expediating the recruitment process by initiating application scrutiny process immediately or parallelly. At the Commission office, the officials would do online scrutiny of the uploaded documents and would publish the list of eligible/ineligible candidates for the further stage of examination. There are recruitments in which interview is not required, the candidates may not have to visit the Commission office even once during the entire process. Many call this an example of faceless administration. With this system, the commission could do exceptionally well during the lockdown period as employees worked from home. Beside promoting Work from Home culture, it also has environmental value as not only it saves papers but also unnecessary visit to the Commission office in different vehicles from remote corners of the state. From March-2020 to October-2020, scrutiny of total 200 Advertisements had been done by the staff working from home.

10. Computerized Marking System of Interview Programme:

• Gujarat Public Service Commission’s ongoing journey towards the destination of ‘Digital Governance’ continues forward with “Computerized Marking System of Interview Programme”.
Earlier, ‘Pen & Paper’ was the method of conducting interviews and giving marks which were sealed in the temper evident cover. The same were then processed for digital entry. This process demanded a lot of time and precision without fail. But the GPSC has adopted “Computer Marking System” which has the following features:

➢ The time of the commencement and closure of the interview is recorded by the software.

➢ Unless the marks entered by all the members are same; the software would not accept the input value and would not take another candidate. And then it is locked, no editing.

➢ The marks entered are processed on the last day of the interview till then the data locked.

➢ At the end of each day of the interview, the marks-sheets printed from the software and mark-sheets prepared manually are compared by the board and sealed in a temper evident cover. Thus, the details of the day of interview get locked after this process. Such covers are kept in the custody of strong room.

➢ On the designated date, the authorized person gets access. Thereafter, the merit list of the candidates appeared in the written examination is made available from the confidential branch of the Commission. Accordingly, the final result is prepared taking into consideration all the marks.

11. Computer Based Recruitment Test (CBRT):

The Commission has started taking the Preliminary Tests on CBRT where the numbers of candidates appearing for the examination are limited; the Commission building itself has a capacity of 1000 seats wherein the CBRT examinations are taken with state of art technology.

12. Chairmanship of Standing Committee of All India State PSCs:

The Chairman of Gujarat Public Service Chairman, Dr Dinesh Dasa has been appointed as the Chairman of the Standing Committee of All India State PSCs’ Chairpersons in March 2020, first time in the history of the GPSC since it’s constitution in 1960. Worth to mention that there are two import bodies – National Conference and Standing Committee. The Chairman UPSC is a Chairman of National Conference while one of the Chairman of the State Public Service Commission is appointed by the National Conference as a Chairman of the Standing Committee.

Through the mechanism of Standing Committee and National Conference, a firm relationship has been attempted to be developed over the years among the State Public Service Commissions on matters concerning methods of recruitment, use of ICT tools in the process of recruitment, personnel policies, conduct of examinations etc. Such gathering also provides a suitable platform for discussion on the changing socio- economic milieu and consequential changes to be brought about in the work ethos of the Commissions in consonance with expectations of the society in general and aspirants in particular and the constitutional obligations.

13. Chatbot: VANI-Virtual Assistant of NIC:

To address the FAQs of the applicants online 24X7 instantaneously, the Commission has compiled all the FAQs and their replies in line with the prevalent rules and regulations of the Commission in both Gujarati and English since 2019.

14. Overview:

• Due to the introduction of ‘Computerized Marking System’ – right from beginning of registering through application form up to the conduct of the interviews; the procedure has no human intervention, excluding the assessment of descriptive questions. The entire process is confidential, flawless and fast. Results can be declared within marked time as various stages of interview procedure is aided and incorporated by computer software. Due to this striking
step of the commission recruitment procedure becomes highly credible and transparent.

• As a part of digital governance, inviting applications to preliminary- its result declaration in 24 hours, Computer Based Recruitment Test (CBRT), Mains Exams (Online Assessment with Question Specific Assessors), Functioning and facility of uploading documents on integrated application scrutiny system (iASS), introduction of computerized marking in interview (Computerized Marking System-CMS) procedure till final recruitment including communication on twitter and GPSC mobile application the Commission is completely functioning online. To extend the wings the Government Department inline for the recruitment are also given username and password to access the online documents as verified by the Commission, to enable them to also verify the documents online.

As mentioned at the outset, the commission looks at its role beyond a recruitment agency. It is the duty of any Public Service Commission to safeguard interest of the aspirants, the government and the society at large. It is a moral obligation for the commission to ensure non-partisanship, judicious representativeness across society and integrity of the selection procedure and promotion process. The people of the state hold high regards and expectations from the commission and we are committed to live up to their expectations.

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