The Staff Selection Commission, set up in 1975, is entrusted with the mandate to conduct examinations and recruit staff to Group B and Group C posts. SSC chairman NK Raghupathy, an IAS officer of the 1975 batch, spoke with Hindustan Times on the initiatives taken by the commission to modernise the recruitment system, optimise its resources and its focus areas for this year. Excerpts:
What has been the SSC's experience in recent years?
The number of job applications has gone up tremendously in the past three years. The commission received just about 10.75 lakh applications in 2008-09 which has increased to 88.5 lakh last year. But we have put systems in place that have been able to handle the increased workload within the constraints of resources and manpower. This has been possible because of introduction of automation and modern technology in 2009.
Have you also been able to reduce the recruitment cycle?
Yes. The commission has reached a position where it is possible to declare the results of single-stage, two-stage and multiple-stage examinations in 6 months, 9 months and 12 months.
Earlier, it took anything from 18 months to 36 months. We mention the date of our results in our advertisement in some examination. We mention the date of results in our advertisements. Of the 16 examinations we conducted last year, we adhered to this deadline in all except two cases where results were delayed by 5 and 12 days.
You also started recruitment for constables in the central police forces, something that you were not mandated to do?
It was to the credit of the commission's reputation that the home ministry has asked us to recruit constables for all central police organisations.
What are your focus areas for this year?
How to provide a level playing field is our biggest challenge today. It can be a level playing field vis-à-vis rural and urban candidate, candidates of Hindi and non-Hindi speaking states and genuine candidates and those who try to manipulate the system. We have been focussing this year on providing the level field to our candidates.
Is this why you introduced tri-lingual question papers for the examination for constables to central police organisations?
So far, the SSC question papers were in two languages only, Hindi and English. During my visits to the states, one point that was often made was that people in some states were not able to apply because the questions were only in two languages. It was pointed that many candidates in states where Hindi is not spoken were not able to take the examination as they were not conversant in these two languages.
So I took the approval of the (then) home minister P Chidambaram who readily agreed to preparing question papers in 13 regional languages. Initially, we had left out Punjabi but the minister suggested we add Punjabi too. I think it did make a difference. From 16 lakh applications received earlier, the number of applications for constable doubled to 35 lakh.