Untold Story of Achyutananda Das and Nampui Jam Chonga – First SC and First ST IAS Officer


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Achyutananda Das was the first scheduled caste in the IAS. He made his mark in 1950 when the UPSC conducted the first ever IAS Examination for recruitment of personnel for IAS and  IPS besides many central services, e. g.,   Indian Foreign Service, Indian Revenue, Customs and Excise Services, Indian Audit & Accounts Services, Indian Postal Services, etc. Achyutananda’s credit was more than the first SC in IAS. He scored highest marks in written examinations. He was awarded the lowest marks in viva voce.

Achyutananda Das secured 613 (58.38 per cent) out of 1050 marks in written examinations whereas N. Krishnan scored 602 (57.33 per cent). While Das was from Calcutta University and, Krishnan from Madras University. In the interview, Krishnan secured 260 (86.66 per cent) out of 300 as against 110 (36.66 percent) scored by Achyutananda Das. Thus Achyutananda was left miles behind by Krishnan due to the latter’s performance in the viva-voce test as will be clear from Table-1 below:

Table-1 [1]

Name of Candidate Compulsory Subjects*

(150 marks each)

Optional Subjects

(200 marks each)

Total

1050

Viva-Voce

(300 marks)

Grand Total

(1350)

EE GE GK I II III
1 N. Krishnan 105 68 69 112 127 121 602 200 862
2 Aniruddha Dasgupta 75 100 40 78 101 101 494 265 760
3 Achyutananda Das 80 76 79 106 141 127 613 110 719

Note: EE=English Essay; GE=General English; and GK=General Knowledge

A strange case made a strange case is shown Table-1. Aniruddha Dasgupta, also from West Bengal, performed extraordinarily in his viva-voce test. Analysis of this candidate in written as well as personality tests is both interesting and intriguing or revealing.

The margin of difference of marks between Achyutananda Das and N. Krishnan in written papers being eleven points only. In this view, if the latter outperformed the former in the viva-voce test, there was perhaps not much of a surprise. But the written and viva-voce marks scored by Aniruddh Dasgupta in comparison with those of Achyutananda Das raise a number of intractable issues. Dasgupta secured the highest marks in viva-voce among all successful candidates recommended for appointment to the IAS, IPS, IFS, and Central Services. But it was also Dasgupta who scored the lowest aggregate as well as the lowest average of all those qualified for appointment to the IAS and Allied Services. Further, he scored the lowest marks of all the qualified candidates in General Knowledge. In other words, Dasgupta scored 26.66 per cent in General Knowledge, 47.04 per cent in written but an astounding 88.33 per cent in Personality Test as against 52.66 per cent, 58.38 per cent and 36.66 per cent respectively scored by Achyutananda Das. The margin of difference of marks between Das and Dasgupta in written examinations was an unbridgeable 119. Reduced into a percentage, Das was 11.33% ahead of Dasgupta.

Any candidate strong in General Knowledge is usually expected to face the Selection Board very confidently and to perform accordingly. Aniruddha Dasgupta’s poorest (26.66 per cent) score amongst all successful candidates in General Knowledge notwithstanding, he must have thrown up the biggest, nay mind-boggling, surprise by scoring the highest marks in the interview. His viva-voce score of 265 which was followed by Krishnan with 260, not only helped him make up the vast gap between him and Achyutananda Das but he left the latter far behind. In the ultimate count, Krishnan topped; Aniruddha Dasgupta occupied the 22nd position in the merit list. Poor Achyutananda Das was assigned the 48th—the last— position in the merit list. Achyutananda, again, it is stated, was the last man in the list of qualified candidates recommended for appointment to the IAS. The government of India allotted Das to the cadre of Uttar Pradesh. Aniruddha Dasgupta excelled both Achyutananda Das and Krishnan in General English only. There is no published record to examine the questions which were posed by the Selection Board to Das, Dasgupta and Krishnan and the answers offered by them. If those were available, posterity would have benefited by acquiring the tools and techniques adopted by Dasgupta as to how to impress the Selection Board of the UPSC despite miserably written scores.

First Scheduled Tribe in IAS

Nampui Jam Chonga, from Assam, was the country’s first tribal candidate in the IAS through the examination held in 1954. He was allotted to the Assam-Meghalaya cadre. His case bears striking similarities in certain aspects with that of aforementioned Achyutananda Das. Nampui Jam Chonga scored third highest marks in General Knowledge, and 51.51 percent average but got 160 (53.33 per cent) only in Personality Test. His scores can be compared with that of Rathindra Nath Sengupta, an IAS allotted to the West Bengal cadre. The scores of the two are shown in  Table 2 below.

Table-2 [2]

Showing marks scored by selected candidates in IAS Examinations, 1954

Name of candidate Compulsory Subjects

EE & GE of 100 marks each; GK of 150 marks

Optional Subjects

200 each subject

Additional Subjects

200 each subject

Total Marks

1450

Viva-voce

300

Grand Total

1750

 

 

Nampui Jam Chonga

EE

 

48

 

GE

 

60

 

 

GK

 

114

 

 

 

I

 

117

 

 

 

 

II

 

58

 

 

 

III

 

119

 

 

 

I

 

127

 

 

 

II

 

104

 

 

 

 

747

 

 

 

 

160

 

 

 

 

907

 

 Rathindra Nath Sengupta  60 53  74  74  119  125  113  100  694  240  943

Note: EE=English Essay; GE=General English; and GK=General Knowledge

Nampui Jam Chonga scored 747 in written papers as against Rathindra Nath Sengupta who got 692 marks the difference between them being of 53 marks. The percentage of marks of the latter was 47.86 and that of the former 51.51. Sengupta’s score (50) in General English was the lowest of all the qualified candidates; in General Knowledge, he was the second lowest, his pride being humbled by Snehlata Puri (Punjab) who scored 37 (24.66 percent). Nevertheless, Sengupta scored the second highest 240 (80 per cent) in Personality Test, the highest 260 (86.66 per cent) being secured by two candidates—S. K. Chaturvedi, Madhya Pradesh cadre, and D. Bandopadhyay, West Bengal cadre. S. K. Chaturvedi was the topper of his batch.

Nampui Jam Chonga ultimately was placed at 64th, the last in the merit position for an appointment to the IAS whereas Rathindra Nath Sengupta was assigned the 52nd position. Notwithstanding their impressive performance in written papers, both Achyutananda Das and Nampui Jam Chonga could not impress the Personality Test Board. Both Dasgupta and Sengupta, on the other hand, proved the reverse that their personality impressed the Selection Board more than their pen could impress their examiners.

Tailpiece

Years later while working as Joint Secretary and then Additional Secretary (Higher Education) and Vice-Chancellor, B R Ambedkar University, Muzaffarpur I came in close touch with His Excellency the Governor of Bihar Dr A R Kidwai, who was the former Chairman, UPSC. The Board chaired by Dr Kidwai, along with Prof. M L Sahare and three others who included former Indian Ambassador to Srilanka, former Director General of Police, Assam, and Director, Indian Institute of Foreign Trade interviewed me for my selection to IAS in 1973.

I had approached the Governor Dr Kidwai for an informal discussion regarding the modality, objective and purpose of an interview conducted by the UPSC for selection of candidates for recruitment to the higher civil services. He was of the view that every candidate should be interviewed in the area of his studies, scrupulously avoiding attempt(s) to confuse him/her by putting any puzzle or riddle. The Interview Board tries, according to the former Chairman, to invent the inherent personality, character, quality of leadership, the ability for decision making, awareness and grasp over developments in various aspects of life surrounding him.

At this point, I had brought the case of Achyutananda Das to his attention with a request for his reaction. Dr Kidwai touched upon the case of a Hindi-speaking candidate from Haryana, who had never visited Delhi till then.  Initially, he was hesitant and nervous in his answers to several questions during the interview. He was then asked questions pertaining to his village in the backdrop of green revolution and consequent development witnessed by Haryana and impact on the socio-economic life. He made a very wholesome presentation of rural life in Haryana with his village as the focal point. The candidate explained how agriculture had emerged from traditional to modern with the use of tractors, harvesters, threshers, pumps, application of high-yielding seeds, irrigation facilities, fertilizers, multiple cropping, etc. revolutionized the old world of farming and cultivation. Villages have been connected by metalled roads facilitating connectivity with far of places and easy marketing of aggro-products hitherto unknown. Villages are no more like islands, cut off from rest of the world. The arrival of radio and television broke down the isolation of the rural life. Communication and transportation have opened up the villages to the world outside. Automobiles have penetrated villages, providing a quick mode of transport. Schools and colleges, drawing students, both boys and girls, started sprouting up here and there making a deep and progressive impact. Slowly but definitely traditional life and customs were collapsing, yielding place to new outlook and attitude. Villages with tea-shops, groceries, medical facilities, repair shops for tractors, automobiles, and bicycles, brick built houses, etc. were visible in villages. High wages for labor has accompanied these developments. Gaps between male and female ratio widened, showing resultant deplorable repercussion on family life in villages.

The Interview Board was very impressed by his performance and at the end, the candidate was assessed as best and the highest scorer in an interview of his batch.

The synopsis of the discussions with the former UPSC Chairman was later published in a Hindi magazine with which I was associated.

The case of Achyutananda Das will ever remain an enigma, throwing the UPSC under a cloud of suspicion right from the day one about malignant influences exerting pressure.

[1]             UPSC Pamphlet of IAS, etc. Examination [Part I] 1950-51.

[2]             UPSC Pamphlet of IAS, etc. Examination [Part I] 1954-55.

Author – Dr. A. K. Biswas, a retired IAS officer & former Vice-Chancellor, B R Ambedkar University, Muzaffarpur, Bihar. Author can be reached at biswasatulk[at]gmail[dot]com 

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  1. 1
    kss

    Do you know that the first Judge from the SC community nominated for the high courts was from tamilnadu that too to the Madras high court and the same judge from tamilnadu was posted as first Judge from the SC community to the supreme court. I think his name was nagarajan

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