National Recruitment Agency: A new architecture for selection process for government jobs

Abhishek Dayal

Government of India has introduced a pathbreaking new architecture for the youth of the country who apply for government jobs. The idea of a Common Entrance Test (CET) for a plethora of jobs has been introduced. This process will be managed by a centralized National Recruitment Agency (NRA).

Government jobs in the country are not only keenly sought after, but are also large in number – as can be expected in a developing nation. About 1.25 lakh jobs are advertised each year and over 2.5 crore young people apply for one or more posts. We all know it is a stressful period in the lives of the young candidates who fill multiple forms, pay exam or application fee for all of these, prepare for different syllabus, pattern and styles of question papers, visit various cities their exams, while at the same time doing other important things in life – like continuing their education, being self employed or working at some job to earn for their families and so on.

We also know how difficult it is to keep track of various examinations by different agencies in various states. Invariably many apply only for a few opportunities. Many of the dates of these exams clash with each other at times, forcing the candidates to choose one or the other and thus reducing their chances of bagging a job. Keeping this reality in mind, let us see how the new architecture for recruitment will ease the lives of these young people.

Some details of the new system

Under the proposal approved by the Union Cabinet earlier this week, there will now be a Common Eligibility Test (CET) that would enable candidates to appear in only one online exam and based on the marks of this exam, candidates can apply for a number of job opportunities cutting across different organizaitons. Moreover, the marks of this test will be valid for three years.

As can be easily visualised, it is a much more scientific way of selection. It does justice to all the applicants and is fair to all – it reduces the disadvantages faced by the talented youth of far-flung areas, poor families, girl candidates and those living in villages that are far from the urban centers. The exam pattern is same for all. The amount of fee saved in application process can be a significant factor in the lives of the poorest families. The test will be taken in several Indian languages besides English, giving a level playing field to poorer candidates.

The system is very ambitious in its scope and seeks to reach out to the poor almost right at their doorsteps. Here is a gist of the main features:

·         The Common Eligibility Test will be held twice a year.

·         There will be different CETs for graduate level, 12th Pass level and 10th pass level to facilitate recruitment to vacancies at various levels.

·         The CET will be conducted in 12 major Indian languages. This is a major change, as hitherto examinations for recruitment to Central Government jobs were held only in English and Hindi.

·         To begin with CET will cover recruitments made by three agencies: viz. Staff Selection Commission, Railway Recruitment Board and the Institute of Banking Personnel Selection.  This will be expanded in a phased manner.

·         CET will be held in 1,000 centres across India in a bid to remove the currently prevalent urban bias. There will be an examination centre in every district of the country.  There will be a special thrust on creating examination infrastructure in the 117 aspirational districts.

·         CET will be a first level test to shortlist candidates and the score will be valid for three years.

·         There shall be no restriction on the number of attempts to be taken by a candidate to appear in the CET subject to the upper age limit. Age relaxation for SC/ST and OBC candidates as per existing rules will apply.

·         The results will be instantaneous since the exam will be computerised.

·         Centralized question bank will standardize the level of testing and result in creation of fair merit list.

The system will also help government agencies to conduct their recruitment in a cost effective manner. For all the organizations involved, there will now be a pool of applicants who are already graded and tested for their levels of competence and thus remove the need to conduct preliminary screening of a large pool of applicants. This will have the obvious advantage of reducing the time taken for recruitment process and reduce institutional cost and effort. Government estimates that the savings will be to the tune of almost Rs 600 crores per year.

Some details of the new architecture

As per the government press release (, Government plans to provide outreach and awareness facility to assist candidates in rural and far flung areas to familiarize them with the online examination system. 24×7 helpline will be set up for answering queries and complaints.

National Recruitment Agency will be a Society registered under the Societies Registration Act. It will be headed by a Chairman of the rank of the Secretary to the Government of India. It will have representatives of Ministry of Railways, Ministry of Finance/Department of Financial Services, the SSC, RRB & IBPS. The Government has sanctioned a sum of Rs. 1517.57 crore for the National Recruitment Agency (NRA). The expenditure will be undertaken over a period of three years. It is envisioned that the NRA would be a specialist body bringing the state-of-the-art technology and best practices to the field of Central Government Recruitment.

Early Reactions

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi tweeted: “The #NationalRecruitmentAgency will prove to be a boon for crores of youngsters. Through the Common Eligibility Test, it will eliminate multiple tests and save precious time as well as resources. This will also be a big boost to transparency.”

In the North Eastern states, the students have welcomed the decision saying that CET will be of a great advantage of them in applying for various job opportunities in various parts of India. Registering and applying online and giving one exam near their homes will make life so much easier for them. Academicians in the region believe that it opens up many more opportunities for the youth of North East across the country.

Coming on the heels of National Education Policy, the thrust to free the young people of stress and anxiety and to make ease of living possible for them seems to be the new mantra for the government. All out efforts are being made to change the education system and the way we work in the public sector, thus making the nation more in tune with the requirements of the 21st century. Inclusiveness and justice lie at the foundation of the latest reform measures. It is inevitable that the results of these concerted efforts will be visible in a very short period of time.

The writer is the Director of Press Information Bureau (PIB), Imphal

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