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Saturday, November 21, 2009

What defines merit?

I often wonder whether merit still counts in the present age India and am unable to find an exact answer. Merit rarely counts, is the best answer that one can think of.
Yes there have been cases where govermnents have recognized brilliance and merit overriding considerations based on money and proximity. E.Sreedharan is one such example of a person whose merit has been openly recognized and appreciated by the federal as well as state government. Nandan Nilekani is perhaps another. But that is about all. No other example readily comes to mind.
And so rarely we come across cases of an outstanding deliverance in this nation of over a billion people primarily because meritocracy has been finally given the go-by in this nation.
The sarkari sector definitely supports and promotes what it regards as merit. Unfortunately however, merit has a different meaning in this sector. Being from the elite IAS is considered meritorious, being well connected to the high and mighty is perhaps over brilliance and being stinking rich is also a fit case for being regarded as meritorious. Again, that is about all. And so all the institutions that are supposed to recruit people for important positions, with perhaps UPSC being the only exception, do their job on the basis of their own perception of what is merit.
The selection for board level positions in the central public sector undertakings is a classic example of a distorted merit assessment system. Both the methods of induction normally give weightage to the "connected" aspect, with the right phone call at the right time almost always doing the trick.
And so what does the really meritorious guy, with no connections and no surplus cash to be doled out as bribes, do in this country? Bide his time, I must say, because ultimately at some point of time, maybe a hundred or more years later, our nation, if it has to be pulled out of the abyss it finds itself in, shall be forced to start believing in and respecting true meritocracy as practiced in the developed world at present and not the pseudo kind, that it presently worships.

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