iconimg Sunday, August 30, 2015

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
Kolkata, June 30, 2013
In an interesting paradox, a large number of the candidates selected by the Bengal government as Group D staff for different state-run healthcare institutes such as medical colleges, district hospitals and primary health centres have higher academic qualifications. This means that candidates with post-graduate degrees in arts, science and commerce would have to do relatively menial work as sweepers or general duty attendants (GDA). The latter carry files, patients’ records from one department to another in state-run hospitals.

It can be recalled that the state government recently approved the recruitment of about 2,800 Group D employees selected in a West Bengal Public Service Commission (WBPSC) panel in 2011.

Incidentally, the qualification for this post is higher secondary. Not surprisingly, the high academic qualifications of these candidates have raised eyebrows among senior officials.

“The government should fix a maximum qualification for candidates who apply for this type of lower grade post. Otherwise, the actual contenders with the required qualification of higher secondary pass-out would find it difficult to face the panelists in the interview or examination,” an official pointed out.

When asked about this, Dr BR Satpathi, director health services, told HT, “A considerable number of candidates with higher qualifications have got the job of group D staff. But we can’t do anything and they will have to do the work of a sweeper or a GDA.”

“We will get around 150 fresh group D men in our hospital. Sometimes, it is embarrassing to see a person with high educational qualifications do the job of a sweeper in the hospital,” said a senior administrative official of the Calcutta National Medical College Hospital.

But besides the obvious, this paradox also exposes the employment scenario in Bengal, the chief minister’s claims about generating jobs notwithstanding.

Meanwhile, Dr Sikha Adhikary, the spokesperson of the state health department, said, “Appointment letters have already been given to many candidates.” She added that there has been an acute crisis of Group D employees in Bengal’s healthcare system.

Sources said the recruitment is occurring after nearly seven years — hence the manpower crunch.

The process, however, began in 2011 when the previous Left Front government decided to recruit Group D staff.

Accordingly, the WBPSC conducted an interview and selected around 3,000 candidates for the post. But the recruitment was stalled because of the announcement of dates for the state assembly elections.

After coming to power, Banerjee decided to recruit group D men through the health recruitment board instead of the WBPSC’s previous panel of candidates. Mamata had also announced the formation of the board for all kinds of recruitment.

In the meantime, the candidates selected in the WBPSC panel moved court.

Finally, the state government approved recruitment from the WBPSC panel.

A senior official, who is also a doctor and close to the CPI(M)backed Association of Health Service Doctors (AHSD), the highest body of government doctors, said that the Trinamool Congress government agreed to recruit the group D men selected in the WBPSC interview keeping in mind the votebank ahead of the forthcoming panchayat elections.