Cabinet gives nod to set up National Recruitment Agency to conduct CET

Cabinet gives nod to set up National Recruitment Agency to conduct CET


NEW DELHI: In a move that impacts around 2.5 crore job aspirants, the Cabinet on Wednesday approved the creation of a National Recruitment Agency (NRA) for conducting an online common eligibility test (CET) to screen and shortlist candidates for non-gazetted Group ‘B’ and Group ‘C’ posts in central government and public sector banks.

The proposal was mentioned in finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s 2020-21 budget speech on February 1 this year. A large number of aspirants who currently have to separately take exams for different services will be benefiited. In all, CET is intended to replace 50 examinations held by different recruiting agencies for around 1.25 lakh government jobs advertised each year and will be a single and standardised online test with scores valid for three years.

The CET will replace the Tier-1 exam held by Staff Selection Commission, Railway Recruitment Boards and Institute of Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS) for recruitment to Group B and C posts. While the CET for all posts will be held simultaneously, there will be different tests depending on the specific job and applicant eligibility criteria such as graduate, higher secondary and matriculate level. Secretary (personnel) C Chandramouli said while NRA would initially conduct CET for only three recruitment agencies, it will expand to all 20 different agencies. Based on a CET score, an aspirant can apply for higher tiers of recruitment process to be conducted by these agencies.

CET, which will use an ICT interface with a secure central server, seeks to cut costs, inconvenience and time — for the government, recruiting agencies and candidates — in the recruitment process.

The aspirant will be allowed unlimited attempts within a prescribed age limit to better his CET score, with the best being considered. Applicants need not travel outside their respective district to access a test centre, with 1,000 centres proposed countrywide with at least one per district. Also, money spent on fees for multiple recruitment tests will be saved. The CET score, which will be generated immediately, shall be made available to the candidate as well as the individual recruitment agency and can be expected to improve transparency.

Hailing the initiative, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday tweeted: “The National Recruitment Agency 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”.

Minister of state for personnel Jitendra Singh said the Rs 1,517-crore NRA proposal is “one of the most landmark reforms in the history of Independent India”. He said it would enable testing for non-technical government jobs based on a standardised curriculum and difficulty level; and benefit women, poor and other disadvantaged sections by eliminating travel to multiple and faraway test centres.

Home minister Amit Shah on Wednesday welcomed the Cabinet decision to constitute NRA, saying it will provide equal opportunities to all sections of the society and ensure transparency in the recruitment process. He called it a ‘landmark day’ for the youth and thanked PM Modi for the “unprecedented step”. “NRA… would create a uniform transformative recruitment process,” he tweeted. BJP president J P Nadda also hailed the move. “In a determined step to help millions of youths, PM Modi’s Cabinet assented to set up NRA.”

The test, to be conducted twice in a year, can be taken in 12 different languages to start with. Importantly, centres will be set up in 117 aspirational districts, for which a separate Rs 600 crore has been earmarked.

NRA, which will be headquartered in Delhi, will be headed by a secretary-level officer and include representatives from the railway ministry, finance ministry, SSC, RRB and IBPS in the governing board. The CET merit list shall eventually be made available by NRA to the states on a cost-sharing basis, for undertaking recruitment to state government jobs, and in the future, to the private sector as well.

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