CSS examination and plagiarism


Central Superior Services (CSS) is the most prestigious service in the public sector of the country. Every year thousands of candidates appear in the exam for few hundred posts. The aspirants try their best and do whatever is humanly possible with the hope of becoming a bureaucrat. The competition is so tough that they join the academies; spend handsome hard-earned money of their parents and valuable time for its preparation. Success in the exam does not mean the final selection. One has to qualify either in the open merit or provincially allocated seats.
Plagiarism is a moral crime and against academic ethics. It is defined as “taking and using the thoughts, writings, and inventions of another person as one’s own.”It is difficult to find out the plagiarism, but some softwares are available to detect it, but still, these are not perfect. But some plagiarized work is so naked that it hardly requires any artificial intelligence.
The menace of plagiarism is deeply rooted in the so-called intelligentsia of the country. Some Pakistani academia and researchers are punished by taking back their degrees for dishonestly copying the work without the original researcher’s permission. According to a report, since 2006, HEC has detected over 200 cases and eight faculty members/scholars blacklisted on plagiarism charges.
This moral virus is endemic in all the bureaucracy’s training courses (MCMC, SMC, and NMC). Each participant is required to do the research work on an assigned topic, and almost 98% submit their research work based on plagiarism. Had they done it honestly, there would have no shortage of data and solutions to every problem because hundreds of burea-ucrats passed out from th-ese institutions every year.
It was a general impression that the whole process of CSS, from examination to the selection, is transparent and based on exceptionally high professional standards. Sadly, it was a myth, not reality. In 2019, FIA busted a gang of some FPSC employees over leakage of CSS papers which badly damaged the credibility of the Federal Public Service Commission. The case was registered, but no one knows that the beneficiaries who used the unfair means to enter the civil service are still enjoying the perks and privileges, or some action has been taken against them. No doubt it was a failure of the Federal Public Service Commission.
Unfortunately, this year’s CSS exam was again not a proud exercise for FPSC. It badly exposed the system’s weaknesses and deficiencies, which should be a matter of concern for the FPSC as a prime recruiting agency.
There is an urgent need for a complete overhaul of the whole process on professional and modern lines. In the recent CSS exam, the paper setters carried out direct plagiarism. They did a word-by-word copy of someone else’s work without changing the quotation mark even. It is a deliberate act that is unethical, dishonest, and should be tried under the law; mere disciplinary action will not be enough.
In the recent CE-2021, some paper setters were so lazy and dishonest that they did not bother to change the question papers’ wording. For instance, four out of seven questions in the Governance and Public Policy Paper were exactly copied from Kansas University’s Preliminary examinations 2009. Similarly, the MCQs part of the Précis paper was another shameful act of the paper setter, especially when Indian Politician and prolific writer Shashi Tharoor commented on a tweeter, “Never heard of ‘bericloge’ myself! Are you sure it’s not a typo for ‘bricolage'”? The 20 MCQs of synonyms and antonyms were some obsolete words that are not even asked to judge the English language skills in GRE examinations internationally. It has been a norm to copy from High School Grammar English book by Wren and Martin for paper 2 of English Précis. This year again, five marks question of punctuation was precisely copied from the said book.
It is indeed appalling that there is no trial against academic dishonesty done on the part of examiners. If they cannot be original in their questions, how can they expect the potential candidate to come up with original and analytical ideas? Not only, question papers are plagiarized, but also there is a market full of 100% plagiarized CSS books written by in-service/retired bureaucrats. The text material is mostly extracted from Wikipedia. The top CSS preparation academies are publishing these books and minting money out of them.