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National agency to hold common eligibility test for govt jobs India


NEW DELHI: The Union 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 Group ‘B’ and Group ‘C’ posts in the
Central government

and
public sector banks

The
proposal
had found mention in finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s 2020-21 budget speech on February 1 this year.

Over 2.5 crore aspirants who separately take over 50 examinations conducted by different recruiting agencies for selection to around 1.25 lakh government jobs advertised each year, will need to only appear for a single and standardised online CET, with their test scores remaining valid for three years. Sources told TOI that the government hopes to conduct the first CET next year, possibly towards the end of first quarter.

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

The aspirant will be allowed unlimited attempts within the prescribed age limit to better his CET score, with the best score 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.

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 described the Cabinet approval for Rs 1,517-crore NRA proposal as “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. 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.

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. A separate CET will be conducted for graduate, higher secondary and matriculate level applicants. Secretary (personnel) C Chandramouli said that while NRA would initially conduct CET for only three recruitment agencies, the plan is to ultimately expand this coverage to all 20 different recruitment agencies. Based on his CET score, the aspirant can apply for higher tiers of recruitment process to be conducted by these agencies.

NRA, which will be headquartered in Delhi, will be headed by a secretary-level officer and include representatives from railway ministry, finance ministry, SSC, RRB and IBPS in the governing board.

CET merit list shall eventually be made available by NRA to the states on cost-sharing basis, for undertaking recruitment to state government jobs, and in the future, to the private sector as well.
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