Keeping with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's promise of doing away with revamping selection process for non-gazetted posts in the government, the Staff Selection Commission (SSC) has announced that online tests will now replace the objective-type written examination. The new system will come into effect from 1 January 2016.
A month ago, Modi had suggested on his radio programme 'Mann ki baat' that the interviews would be done away with from the selection process for non-gazetted posts in a bid to clamp down on corrupt practices.
The move towards online tests was taken with consensus in a recent Staff Selection Commission meeting chaired by PH Pillai,
Hang on, what is a "non-gazetted post" and how do interviews open the process to corruption? And who exactly does this change benefit, if at all? Don't worry, we'll break it down for you.
Who is a non-gazetted officer?
According to the SSC mandate, the changes will apply to Group B and a majority of Group C posts officers who were being recruited only via interviews until now.
Competitive examinations like the IAS, IPS, IRS are conducted for Group A. The subsequent groups till D form the subordinate posts for which the SSC conducts exams and interviews. Non-gazetted posts are a component of these lower groups.According to the 'Functions of Commission' tab on the SSC website, these subordinate posts include include CBI sub-inspectors, junior engineers, tax assistants for the Central Board of Excise and Customs and other junior positions in various departments of the government.
What went wrong with the previous process?
According to Modi, the interview and objective-type written examination process was a breeding ground for excesses of power and malpractices. How?
The interview protocol meant that the poor often had to look for sifarish or recommendation even when they had received the interview call - making their employment incumbent on bribing brokers.
Further, the objective-type test made room for "unscrupulous candidates to vitiate the examination process by resorting to malpractice," according to the minutes of the meeting as reported by Indian Express.
The online process is expected to make the process immune to such attempts and to "ensure integrity of the selection process."
How will the recruitment process be carried out?
The interview system is being done away with as the government believed it unnecessary for junior positions that do not require personality assessment.
The SSC will conduct skill tests and continue the objective-type written test for positions that require matriculation or higher secondary level of education.
The online test will have multiple choice questions as well. The SSC is looking to create an exhaustive question bank. However, it will limit the number of appearing candidates to 20 for each vacant post so as to make the process more efficient and make supervision practicable.
There are reservations about how practicable an online system will be, given that all candidates, especially those from rural areas, may not have the technology difficult to navigate. The SSC has said that anyone who can operate a mobile phone would be able to operate this 'uncomplicated' system. Concerns about infrastructure required for implementation were also dealt with similarly.
While the government hopes to make good on its promise to handle corruption with a firm hand, one wonders how far the gap between policy and practice would stretch given that the new system needs to come into effect exactly a month from today.
(Text by Geetika Mantri)