Young and waiting: India’s public examination and recruitment system is failing its youth

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Source: This post is based on the article “Young and waiting: India’s public examination and recruitment system is failing its youth” published in the Indian Express on 30th July 2022.

Syllabus: GS 3 – Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.

Relevance: About the India’s public examination and recruitment system.

News: Recently 4,500 candidates in Andhra Pradesh who cleared a district selection committee exam in 1998 have finally been offered regular jobs as teaching staff in government schools. With 24 job-seeking years, most of them reach close to retirement.

What is the present state of India’s public examination and recruitment system?

a) Railway exams of 2019 have seen over 1,000 days delay for exams to be conducted, b) About 700 army aspirants recently protested outside the Raj Bhavan against delays in conducting the army recruitment exams which was postponed six times already since Apr 2021, c) The recruitment cycle for the Staff Selection Commission delayed due to Covid, many aspirants have also gone over the age limit and been denied a relaxation (in age cap) or an extra attempt,

What are the challenges associated with delayed exams?

a) Getting assistance to help prepare for recruitment exams is also an expensive affair.  For instance, tuitions costs can vary from Rs 1,000 to Rs 4,000 for minor posts, to Rs 1.5-2.5 lakh for UPSC coaching (excluding living costs). If such exams get delayed, then the youth will suffer financially and mentally, b) Even when exams are done, the results are getting delayed for many exams, c) Even if the exam results are published, an aspirant cannot be sure of getting a firm job. For example, the case of SSC GD 2018 aspirants.

All this shows that the recruitment process for some government posts simply never ends.

How can the government hold the departments accountable for conducting exams?

a) Each ministry should ask all departments to prepare an existing vacancies list within three days from the defined zero date, b) The departments should ideally advertise the approved list of existing vacancies within seven days of the approval of such a list, c) For each week of delay beyond 30 days, the defaulting department could be liable for a small reduction in their administrative expenses, d) Final examination results should be announced within a defined period. In the event of cancellation of examinations, compensatory attempts shall be provided to all applicants by relaxing age norms.

What should be done to reform India’s public examination and recruitment system?

Reform the examination process: This should include a) a waiver of examination fees, b) removing a barrier for candidates from economically challenging backgrounds, c) providing travel and lodging allowances if the examination centre is not within a specified distance, d) all examination centres must have basic infrastructure (biometric attendance, cloakroom) and adequate security (guards, invigilators, CCTV cameras) to ensure a fair process, and e) An integrated examination calendar for all major educational institutions and recruitment to PSUs should be published while ensuring minimal overlap.

Of the 430-450 million available in the labour force, only 390 million actually had jobs in June 2022, as per CMIE data. India needs to create 20 million jobs annually. Hence, India needs to face the challenge of job creation and upskilling of youth for the labour market to ensure that India’s demographic dividend does not become a demographic disaster.

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