NRA: A New Hope for Job Aspirants

By: Harshil Dey

The Union Cabinet under Prime Minister Modi, on Wednesday, 19th August 2020, approved the creation of a National Recruitment Agency (NRA) for conducting a Common Eligibility Test (CET). These tests are for non-gazetted posts including Group B and C category jobs along with various government jobs. By conducting a single exam for Staff Selection Commission (SSC), Railways Recruitment Board (RRB) and Institute of Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS), the NRA aims to form a singular body for recruitment for governmental posts.

Government jobs in India are classified into four categories based on the required qualifications and responsibilities assigned. Their pay is decided by 7th Pay Commission’s Pay levels.

Group `A’ posts carry higher administrative responsibilities and they are appointed at the highest management positions in the ministries. The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducts a civil services examination for this category. Job seekers appointed into this group are officials and are employed at various managerial positions across governments which are one of the highest available jobs. The chief difference between a gazetted and a non-gazetted officer is that the former has the power to issue stamps on behalf of the Indian government. Their pay levels are between the range of 10 -14.

The junior levels of Group ‘A’ along with Group ‘B’ constitute middle management. Currently, the SSC is the largest exam which recruits for category B. Group ‘B’ jobs constitute the majority of executive jobs and are also the backbone of the government. These include both gazetted and non-gazetted posts, recruitment for which is done through UPSC and SSC exams. Their pay level is between the range of 6-9.

Group ‘C’ posts mainly perform clerical work in ministries and departments. They form the government staff at the base level. The recruitment for this class is done by the Staff Selection Commission (SSC). The 7th CPC classifies their pay levels between 1- 5[i]

Group ‘D’ is the lowest level government group of job. Their pay level is the same as that of Group C, i.e. between 1 -5.

As of now, aspirants have to take different exams that are conducted by various agencies for central government jobs. About 2.5 crore to 3 crore candidates applied for the 1.25 lakh Group B and C jobs[ii] advertised by three agencies every year, with separate schedules and fees. The aim of CET is to unify all such exams and provide a more transparent and less time-taking recruitment procedure.

The primary assessment for the Railway Recruitment Board, the Staff Selection Commission and the Institute of Banking Personnel Selection would be organized by the NRA. Gradually all Central Government recruitment agencies would be brought under the NRA, as the Secretary of Department of Personnel and Training, Mr. Chandramouli has intended.

Initially, the Union Cabinet has approved an amount of Rs 1517.57 crore for the NRA[iii], for a period of 3 years, which will be used for setting up exam centres in districts and increasing accessibility of such a program to every aspirant across the country. Immediately after the Cabinet’s approval, The CM of Madhya Pradesh, Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced that MP would be the first state to provide jobs based on the marks obtained in the NRA test, urging other states to follow suit.

Headquartered in Delhi, the NRA is said to begin from 2021. It will conduct an online exam, with over 1,000 centres in various districts. The CET would be held separately for three levels - graduate, 12th pass and 10th pass for the non-technical posts of above mentioned three agencies. The CET score will be valid for a time of 3 years along with a limit for the number of times a candidate can appear for the test before he reaches the maximum age limit. This age limit will be relaxed for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. On the basis of screening done at the CET score, final selection for recruitment shall be made through separate specialised Tiers (II, III, etc.) of examinations, after which the candidates can use their scores to apply to the individual agencies for the next round. The unified system of conducting exams will lead to more transparency and bring out an efficient manner for assessing the candidates’ potential.

However, the current unemployment problem is that if a person with high academic qualifications such as a PhD in Economics is eligible for a job, their skills far surpass the technical requirements of the job and the person will remain unemployed or be under disguised employment. Even with the new CET, this problem has not been addressed. Moreover, it was never ascertained as to how many posts were present for which the exam was being conducted. Although, given the ups and downs of every governmental agency, the emergence of such an idea was crucial for the nation. And if enforced rightly, this along with the New Education Policy 2020 may lead to the upliftment of the youth.






[ii] applied for the 1.25 lakh Group B and C jobs

[iii] approved an amount of Rs 1517.57 crore for the NRA