After the announcement of the Eighth National Pay Scale in 2015, the jobseekers turned to the civil service jobs like a deluge. Bangladesh Public Service Commission (BPSC) now recruits officers for civil services under 26 cadres -- 14 general and 12 technical and specialised.

Analysing results of seventh to 34th BCS examinations, it was seen that graduates of arts and other general disciplines were the majority in general cadres, including admin, police and foreign services. However, the scenario took a significant turn in 35th BCS (2014) when candidates with engineering, medical and agricultural backgrounds increasingly chose the general cadres. The trend continued in the following civil service examinations.

Quick promotion, vehicle facilities, additional allowances and other facilities of general cadres are attracting the specialized degree holders.

Out of 410 officers recruited in admin, police and foreign services through 35th to 40th civil service examinations, 57 were physicians and engineers. Some 342 officers have been recruited in the three cadre services through 40th BCS and 102 of them are engineers and physicians. The BUET alone inputted 50 officers in the administrative service through the 40th BCS.

Engineers, physicians in top three cadre services

Sharmin Ara joined the civil service as an admin cadre after completing her bachelor of dental surgery (BDS) from Dhaka Dental College. She is now stationed at Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (RAJUK) as executive magistrate.

Mamunur Rashid, a graduate of Bangladesh University of Textiles (BUTEX), passed the 37th civil service examination and is now employed at Dinajpur deputy commissioner’s office. Physician Subarna Shamim secured the top position in foreign cadre in 36th BCS and is now employed at the ministry of foreign affairs.

Taki Faisal, the top scorer in 37th BCS admin cadre, is now employed at Naogaon DC office as executive magistrate. He was a student of electrical and electronic engineering department at BUET.

Professor Mizanur Rahman, director of the BUET’s directorate of student’s welfare, said physicians and engineers will be interested to their designated professions if the job market is kept conducive in line with the passing number of engineers or physicians and the prevailing discrimination in promotion is eliminated.

Admin cadre at the top

The admin cadre officers rule over the ministries and occupy all the top positions. No other officers are allowed to assume the positions despite their special skills in their professions.

Zia Arefin, joint secretary general of BCS General Education Association, told Prothom Alo that the supremacy of admin cadres created discrimination in all sectors. All important offices, including the prime minister and president offices, finance ministry, planning commission, public service commission, are under the sole control of the admin cadre.

There has been a long standing discrimination between the admin cadre and engineering, agriculture, and medical cadres. The admin cadres enjoy timely promotion, vehicle and accommodation facility, special allowance, foreign trips and postings. But the scenario is in stark contrast when it comes to other cadres.

To eradicate the prevailing discrimination, the deprived officers of specialised cadres formed a platform called Prokrichi where Prokousholi (engineers), Krishibid (agriculturists), and Chikitshok (physicians) pressed home their demands.

Prokrichi leaders said officers of all cadres are allowed to be secretaries at the ministries, but the authorities do not appoint technical cadre officers to the posts. Appointment of admin cadre officials to technical positions is intensifying the prevailing problems and creating resentment among the technical professionals.

Besides, there are no reserved posts for the technical professionals at the policy-making level regarding appointments, training and promotions at ministries related to engineering, agriculture, and medical services. Hence, there is no way to take their opinion while making decisions.

The admin cadre officers enjoy the full authority for taking any decision regarding jobs under other cadre services. The agriculture secretary should be an agriculturist while the health secretary a physician. But it does not happen here.

Ihteshamul Haque Chowdhury, member secretary of the central steering committee of Prokrichi and secretary general of Bangladesh Medical Association (BMA) told Prothom Alo that the talented physicians and engineers are turning to general cadres due to inter-cadre discrimination.

The prime minister's directive to eliminate inter-cadre discrimination has not been implemented even in 10 years. Those who are supposed to implement the directive do not want the discrimination to be removed. If it continues, there will be no physician and engineer in the country, he added.

Acute prestige crisis

Md Atiqur Rahman, a physician of Kurigram sadar hospital, told Prothom Alo that an admin cadre official gets quick promotions and become upazila nirbahi officer (UNO). Contrariwise, the physicians have to wait for years to get promotion. In absence of timely promotion, they suffer more from the prestige issue than the financial loss.

Maiyaz Ibn Pramanik joined the department of public health engineering through the 31st BCS in 2012, after completing her studies at BUET. He is now serving the directorate as executive engineer at Tangail office.

He told Prothom Alo that his batchmates of admin, police and foreign cadres have been promoted to sixth grade. Even, admin, police and foreign cadre officers of 34th BCS have been promoted to the sixth-grade, but Maiyaz is yet to get promotion despite being from 31st BCS.

He also alleged that all secretaries and deputy secretaries are chosen from the admin cadre while the specialized cadres are being deprived fully.

However, the state minister for public administration, Farhad Hossain, came up with a different view, saying that the inter-cadre discrimination is not the lone reason behind the scenario.

“Many people study medicine and engineering but prefer to serve the administration or police. The shuffling in profession might have taken place because of this,” he said, adding that the government is in efforts to eradicate the inter-cadre discrimination.

Suggestions

The question is whether there will be a loss or a shortage of engineers, physicians or agriculturists in the country in the aftermath.

Former Cabinet Secretary Ali Imam Majumder said there is no reason for the country to suffer a loss as an overwhelming number of students are passing out of the specialised disciplines.

Rather, a number of engineers, physicians and agriculturists are enriching the civil service by securing their positions through competitions, he added.

Salauddin M Aminuzzaman, a public administration department professor at Dhaka University, pointed out some reasons behind the current situation of changing professions and made some recommendations.

He told Prothom Alo that there is no legal ground to refrain engineers and physicians from entering the attractive cadres like administration, police or foreign affairs as they are securing their positions here with their merits. As they are good in math and science, they are ahead of candidates from other departments. It cannot be stopped.

However, the professor thinks that a kind of quota can be introduced to ensure everyone's participation in the civil service. He said the authorities may specify the vacant positions under the general cadres for science, arts, and commerce students.

Besides, there should be no discrimination among the cadres, he added.