On September 5, young aspirants of various government jobs protested against the delay in conduction of exams and the government’s inability to recruit people who have already cleared the exams for specific services. Aspirants expressed concern about the delay in declaration of results for the Combined Graduate Level exam and also the conduction of Railway recruitment board’s non-technical popular categories recruitment test.
Many students took to social media to express their concerns. On September 9, these aspirants switched off lights and lighted lamps for nine minutes as a symbolic protest. The campaign #9Baje9Minute received widespread support on Twitter.
The CGL exam was held in 2018 but results are still awaited. The 2019 leg of the exams is still in its preliminary stage. The registrations for the RRB NTPC test commenced in March 2019 but the exams are yet to be held.
At least a dozen state service exams have been similarly delayed. If the government is able to successfully hold exams for medical and engineering colleges, aspirants ask, then why are they left out?
The Staff Selection Commission and Railway job aspirants were at the helm of the campaign. After the consistent protests, the government announced that SSC CGL 2018 Tier 3 exams will be held in October this year. Haryana SSC too declared its exam results.
VK Yadav, chairman of the Indian Railway Board, said in a press conference: "We have invited some applications for recruitment in various categories for 1.4 lakh posts. These were notified during the pre-Covid period. Scrutiny of these applications was completed but due to the pandemic, a computer-based examination cannot be completed. Railways has decided to start exams for all three categories of vacancies from December 15. A detailed schedule will be announced very soon."
Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said in 2019 that the Railways would offer four lakh jobs in two years; however, many aspirants are still awaiting recruitment.
As per the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, the in April 2020 was at 9.1 percent. The Covid-19 pandemic has added to the woes of the Indian working class. Private companies have laid off employees and the government has been constantly delaying recruitment.
The pressure has been taking a toll on the mental health of the aspirants. As per 2018 , unemployment pushed at least 10 Indians to suicide everyday.
‘System is failing us’
Rakesh Pal, 26, is from Ghazipur, Uttar Pradesh. He has been living in New Delhi for the past three years. He graduated in 2015 and since then, he has been attempting to clear the SSC CGL exam. Rakesh’s father runs a grocery shop, their only source of family income.
“I shifted to Delhi three years back to prepare for SSC exams," he said. "I have been attempting the exams since 2016 but haven’t been able to clear them. Every year, the number of seats are reduced. In 2017, there were some issues with the SSC website and I missed out.”
In 2018, he also registered for the Uttar Pradesh Subordinate Services Selection Commission exams. “After filling the form in 2018, I sat for the exam in December 2019. Now I have to wait for a year or more for the results. They do not follow a well-defined process,” Rakesh Pal added.
Amit, 23, decided to prepare for UPSC while simultaneously taking other exams. Amit’s father is in the government services. He said, “I went to Delhi for a year to take coaching classes for the exams but the greatest demotivation for state government services has been the lack of timeframe. It is better to take five attempts at UPSC instead.”
Paromita Pal, 23, is a resident of Kolkata. She appeared for the SSC exam in 2019. “I am preparing for a selection service organised by SSC. These are mainly non-technical jobs. I filled the form in 2018 and sat for the exam in November 2019. I have been selected but they have yet not completed the other due processes including the medical test,” Pal said.
The West Bengal government does not follow a fixed schedule. The School Service Commission has not conducted any exams in the past few years and Railways issued the tentative dates only a few days back.
Pal added, “I am hoping that they do not change these dates. How can the government play with our career? I always fear that the hard work of so many years might go to waste.”
‘It’s taking a toll on us’
Titirsu Mondal, 28, from Barasta, West Bengal, has been preparing for government services exams for more than five years. He said, “The recruitment process for government exams, especially those organised by the West Bengal government, is very lengthy. We have to wait for an uncertain period of time for results. At one point you don’t feel motivated but then you push yourself. For me cracking WBCS is a passion, but every year vacancies are decreasing.”
Mondal added, “People tend to ask ‘Have you got a job? When will you get it? It’s been years, you are still preparing?’ I don’t know what to say. There is a lot of social pressure as well. I can’t even leave it at this juncture when I have dedicated five years of my life to it.”
Abhinav, 25, lives in Patna, Bihar. He has been preparing for various government service exams since the past three years. “I first started preparing for UPSC just after my graduation. In 2017, I attempted UPSC to get an idea about the exam and took the exam again the next year but I could not make it through both attempts. That is when I started preparing for SSC. I took one year of coaching in Delhi and then came back home. Right now I am more focused on SSC, although the conditions of the exam are terrible. But I don’t have an option.”
National Recruitment Agency
Amid all the protests, the government has decided to form a National Recruitment Agency. The agency will conduct a common eligibility test for selection in non-gazetted posts in the central government and public sector banks.
Secretary of Department of Personnel and Training, C Chandramouli said that on an average 2.5 to3 crore aspirants appear for about 1.25 lakh vacancies in the central government every year. Now the NRA will conduct a common eligibility test based on their performance, the candidate can apply for a vacancy with the respective agency. Students are hoping that this decision may speed up the tedious and lengthy process of the exams.”