Hyderabad: When Srikanth received an SMS on June 4th, he was surprised to see that he had to pay an extra Rs 120 to apply for group 1 exams. Being a candidate belonging to BC group, he should have been allowed to apply free of cost. Confused, he approached the Telangana State Public Service Commission (TSPSC).
To his shock, he was told, “You have to pay extra because you’re a non-local.” Srikanth is one of 2700 TSPSC government job aspirants who were shocked to find out that they were considered ‘non-locals’ by the Telangana government because they studied for one or two years in the undivided state of Andhra Pradesh, which was bifurcated in 2014.
Growing up in the undivided Andhra Pradesh, Srikanth had studied all over the state. “I studied from 1-5 classes in Godavarikhani, Karimnagar district. Then I studied from 6th to 8th classes in the Prakasam district of Andhra Pradesh. From 9th class, I finished my education in what is now the Telangana state,” he told Siasat.com.
This issue came to light in early June when the notification for the Telangana Group-1 examinations was released for the first time after state bifurcation in 2014. Being a non-local means that the candidate has to compete with local candidates for only a 5% quota of the jobs under the state government’s notification.
What seems to have happened is that both sides of the Andhra and Telangana governments failed to take cognisance of such complications post bifurcation of the states in 2014. That natives of Telangana would be called non-local, is perhaps unfair, especially if it is a result of oversight such as this.
Who is a ‘local’?
To be considered a ‘local,’ the candidate has to have studied four consecutive years in Telangana. The minimum qualification to ascertain local candidature is 7th class. Therefore, candidates have to have studied 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th classes in Telangana.
According to a Presidential Order dated 2018, 95% of jobs in all state-run companies, corporations, societies, and institutions are reserved for local candidates. The order was passed so that local candidates get priority for jobs under the state and local authorities- from posts of junior assistant and below deputy collector among other positions.
How candidates became ‘non-locals’
Some of the candidates from Telangana affected by the new system include those belonging to bordering districts of Telangana who opted for schools in the nearest towns in what is now AP, due to a lack of facilities in their respective towns or villages.
22-year-old Sai Krishna studied from classes 1 to 5 in Hyderabad. He then got a scholarship to study in the prestigious Sainik School in Andhra Pradesh’s Korukonda of Vizianagaram district.
“For all of undivided AP, this was the only military preparatory school. Till class 10 I got a scholarship from the Andhra Pradesh government. Then the state bifurcation happened, after which the Telangana government recognised me as a local and continued my scholarship for classes 11 and 12. But today for employment, I’m not a local. How is this fair?” he asked.
In other cases, candidates whose parents are government employees in with the Telangana government had to study in what is now Andhra Pradesh after their parents got transferred. In some cases of Mandal distribution during the bifurcation, seven mandals in Khammam district were merged with Andhra Pradesh. Despite hailing from the Telangana area, all those students now are considered non-locals.
Telangana government’s response
Officials at the TSPSC said that the local and non-local candidature’s classification in Telangana is based on a Presidential Order numbered 124 of the Telangana Public Employment order, 2018. “The TSPSC has no provisions to change the criteria of the local/non-local candidature,” said senior officials. They directed the complainants to provide representation to the state government about their issue.
Essentially, candidates such as Srikanth have been more or less left hanging, with literally no way to address this issue. Along with other complainants, they have approached the Telangana legal department and submitted a letter of grievance to the secretary, to which he received acknowledgement- but no response yet.
Group-1 examinations in Telangana will be held in October, and as they approach, tension is rising among job aspirants, said candidates. “We will be approaching the court soon,” said one of them.