With the Combined Graduate Level Examination 2013 continuing to generate controversy, it escaped me that the CHSL Examination commenced today. But, with the SSC Examinations becoming lotteries with huge difference in the difficulty levels of question papers of different sessions, the candidates pray for allotment to sessions which will have easy question papers. Anyway, my belated Best Wishes and Good Luck to the aspirants who took the CHLE 2014 today and all those who will take the examination on 9th and 16th November. I have received several hundred messages on FB about the results of Written Examination of CGLE 2013, which has been dogged by controversies continuously. The issue this time is whether it is at all practical to have such high cut offs for interview and non interview posts in the written examination and whether it is probable that the successful candidates of certain centres, especially Delhi, outnumber others. The problem is compounded by FB posts on the alleged approach of several candidates in CGLE and CHSL by vested interests in SSC and outside, promising very high marks in the written examination. I have not found any of these allegations to be valid though names and roll nos have been emailed to me in confidence. With the happenings of the past 18 months in the SSC when the Commission initially showed ineptitude in handling court cases on CGLE 2013, transparency levels gradually coming down due to inexplicable decisions by a ‘candidate-friendly’ Commission, vast disparity in standard of the question papers of the CGLE 2014 Tier I and the ‘Commission’ surrounded and possibly advised by a few officials suspected to be of doubtful integrity, the confidence of the SSC aspirants in the Commission is at its lowest. I had carried out a primitive assessment of the difficulty levels of the papers used in the CGLE 2014- Tier I. While the papers of 26th October were of almost the same difficult level, the paper in the AN of 19th was at least 15% more difficult and the Paper of FN of 19th was about 50% more difficult than the papers of 26th. I do not claim to be an expert in such matters but a mere look at the question papers of 19th FN and any paper of 26th by an average intelligent person, like me, will lead to the same view. SSC will be well advised to have the matter looked into by an Expert Group of Psychometricians so that such huge difference in standard in papers of different sessions can be avoided in future. None of my suggestions has been accepted by the SSC so far but it does not deter me from giving suggestions in the interests of the Commission itself and the millions of job aspirants who faithfully flock to its examinations, month after month. I had received information early this year that there is an organized racket of impersonation in some regional offices. There is a widespread feeling that impersonation in SSC Examinations is rampant now. I had- I still have- faith in the integrity of majority of officers of the SSC; but my confidence was shaken when a government official recently asked me whether an officer of the SSC can indeed change the category status of his ward, as was promised by the officer. With the ‘Commission’ thinking that monitoring the confidential work is below its dignity- the ‘Commission’ had reportedly removed the facility of monitoring the activities in the confidential section through the CCTV system from the chambers of senior officers- the bad elements in the SSC may be rearing their heads again. I am not one for maintaining status quo but any change should lead to improvement and should not be a retrograde step. It is time the “Commission’ takes a good look at itself and start taking measures to improve the candidates’ confidence. I saw a post by a candidate of CGLE 2013 on FB today. He has been selected for interview but still has no faith in the SSC. This should send a clear message. Let me come to CGLE 2013 written results. A competitive examination is not a qualifying examination. It should help in separating the grain from the chaff. It should help in separating the meritorious candidates from those not so meritorious. The high- in the minds of the job aspirants abnormally high- cut offs send the message that something g is seriously wrong when nothing may actually be wrong. If the intention is to make the candidates feel good after the examination on the day of the examination easy papers will serve that purpose. There are established methods of checking whether the questions have met the principles of reliability and validity. Theoretically, high cut offs are possible like the very high scoring possible in Higher Secondary Examination in my own home state. Cut offs are not pre-determined but they are ascertained after the result is finalized. It is not really a cut off but the lowest mark obtained by a candidate belonging to different categories AFTER the results are finalized. Each recruiting body has its own policy on ratio of posts or tentative or likely posts to number of candidates selected in intermediate stages. For example, UPSC selects candidates for interview in CSE in the ratio of 2.5 to 1 and SSC in the ratio of 1.5 to 1. After the result is finalized following the ratio, the lowest marks are ascertained in each category and given out as the cut offs. Northern Region and Central Region account for two-thirds of selected candidates in every examination of SSC. The success of candidates of Delhi has been attributed to the large number of good coaching centres in Delhi primarily and frauds of different types partially. Unfortunately, Post Examination Analysis appears to have been given a go-by in the SSC since 2013 and the fear of detection of fraudsters- except impersonators who cannot be detected using this method- is no longer there. With the transparent procedure of display of marks of all candidates having been dispensed with going back to the method prevalent in 2009- a retrograde step without any dispute- detection of organized cheating in any particular centre by the public through analysis of marks is no longer possible and the gangs of fraudsters operate freely. Unfortunately, the gangs include a few supervisors of SSC venues too as has been seen from newspaper reports on arrests of a few gangs. The cut offs depend on the difficulty levels of question papers, the comparative performance of the candidates, the number of posts and the ratio between posts and candidates for the next stage applied by the recruiting agency. The question papers of Tier II of CGLE were certainly easier than CGLE 2012’s and the candidates had ample time to prepare because of court cases and theoretically it is possible to have high cut offs. Yet, with thousands of candidates questioning the huge difference in cut offs of 2012 and 2013 examination, SSC should have an internal audit and verify whether anything was amiss or whether there is no cause for worry. They should especially see whether candidates of any sub-centre(s) have outscored others in terms of marks or % of success. The Commission should also check whether the checks and balances to verify confidential work have been dispensed with or are still in place. About 21000 candidates have been selected for interview, document verification for Non Interview Posts and DEST for TA. In 2012 Examination the number was much more as about 10000 candidates were selected for DEST for TA alone; yet several hundred posts remained vacant. We all learn from past experience and to prevent a situation when over 1500 TA posts may remain unfilled, the Commission should have good look at the possibility of calling more candidates for the post of TA alone. Personally I learnt a lesson in CGL 2013 Re-examination. One should never venture to make a guesstimate of the cut off in the present SSC scenario. I know that nothing may come out of this post too as the ‘Commission’ does not like to follow any advice from outside, as seen in the past 18 months. Yet, I have the satisfaction that I am doing my duty.
I had posted this morning-"No facebook after today! Tired of criticism!!". So many of you have responded. Only a few remembered that today is April 1st! It was an All Fools' Day prank. Normally I do not play any pranks but today I was in a mischievous mood, befitting April 1st! I will continue to be available on Facebook as long as it is of use to all of you. Criticism had never fazed me in my life. Why should it now? I will continue to live life on my own terms. Thanks for all the sentiments.
My last post on SSC and CGLE 2013 was on 19th December, 2013 when I said that I would not post on SSC for a fortnight. The self imposed period of silence is expiring today. There have been some developments in CGLE 2013 since my last post. Due to protests after the CAT hearing of 18th December and the success of a few candidates in meeting the Chairman, SSC, an application for vacation of the stay order has been filed by the SSC. There are newspaper reports of organized protests in some parts of the country. The Chairman, SSC has given a formal commitment, though without indicating any time bound programme, through his message on the SSC website that results of all examinations held in 2013 will be expedited. The application for vacation of the stay order was filed before the winter vacation of CAT according to earlier reports. Now it appears that it is numbered in the year 2014 and will come up for hearing tomorrow. I had suggested such an application in November 2013 itself so that if CAT rejected the application SSC could have approached the High Court appealing against the CAT’s rejection. Unfortunately, it had taken protests from candidates to goad the SSC into action. Anyway, it is better late than never. Even now, I would like the SSC to field an Additional Solicitor General to argue in favour of vacating the stay order and seeking an early decision in the OAs pending before CAT for several months now, apparently for no reason. If SSC believes that there is no organized leak of its question papers prior to the commencement of the examination it must take proactive action in ensuring vacation of the stay order and quick decision in the OAs so that the uncertainty is removed once and for all. Mere vacation of the stay order or its relaxation will be of no utility as the uncertainty will continue to loom over the final results. The present set of officers in SSC, unfortunately have not shown the planning and dynamism required for handling the enormous and unprecedented volumes handled since 2011. I sincerely hope and wish that they prove me wrong. I spent 8 years of my working life in the SSC and it pains me that the SSC appears to be losing the confidence of the vast multitude of candidates. I would like the SSC to inform the candidates about the factors hindering its effective working through its websites and twitter. After all it has about 100000 dedicated followers on twitter. Manpower is, in my view, not an issue as the SSC has the option of hiring people on short term basis depending on its requirement. When the regional offices work with the available manpower, constraint of manpower cannot certainly be a reason for delay in completing the examination process. Let us be realistic. If the stay order is vacated on 3rd or 13th as the case may be, depending on whether the SSC counsel, who apparently sought the hearing to be deferred till 13th because of his ‘non availability’, will appear tomorrow, the result of Tier II can be brought out in just 2,3 days and in any case within a week. Completion of interviews with 10 Boards sitting every day in Delhi for six days in a week and 4 weeks for despatch of call letters, will need about 10 weeks from the date of the result. CPT and DEST can be completed during this period and about 4 weeks will be required after completion of the interviews for processing and publishing the results. Therefore, from the date of vacation of the stay order, it will take about 15 weeks for publishing the final results. That takes it perilously close to Parliament Elections and it will be left to the Election Commission to allow publication of the results. The candidates should now hope that better sense will prevail in the CAT Bench which, in my view, I reiterate, has unnecessarily delayed its decision in this case for too long. Many candidates have asked about the possibility of notification of CGLE 2014 on 18th January and the examination format. There is no legal or other impediment in notifying the next examination without publishing the results of the previous year’s examination. But, morally it could be inappropriate to notify the examination when there is no certainty about the schedule of publication of the results of the previous examination. It is a difficult decision for the Chairman, SSC to take but the SSC has let itself into this situation and should now extricate itself with the least damage to its reputation. If there is a commitment from the SSC about publication of 2013 exam results by end of May 2014, say, I would like to suggest publication of the notice of the 2014 Examination as per the published schedule. There is no indication about the change in the examination pattern from any official source except a FB post by a Regional Deputy Director. When we decided to change the examination scheme in 2009 as per recommendation of an Expert Group which examined the feasibility of acceptance of 2nd Administrative Reforms Commission’s report on SSC Examinations, a publicity drive was launched with several press conferences and media advertisements. We also gave a commitment that the change in the pattern would lead to declaration of results within 6, 9 or 12 months of the advertisement depending upon whether it was a single stage, two stage or multiple stage examination. We fulfilled our commitment for three years. Therefore, any change in the examination scheme should be accompanied by a committed schedule of completing the examination process. There must be a well defined rationale for changing the examination pattern and it cannot be a knee jerk reaction to stray malpractices in the examination. One last word of advice to the candidates. Approaching the politicians may do more harm than good. Most Ministers are ill informed of the portfolio they are handling and depend on the senior officers who themselves are mostly ill equipped to handle their responsibilities. Politicians worry about their reelection and senior officers about their post retirement jobs. There are some ministers who put their foot into their mouth every time they speak and do so only for getting photo opportunities. Most of them do not keep their commitments.
Best of luck to those who are appearing for Tier I of CGLE 2015 on 9th and 16th August 2015.
I appeal to the DoPT and the PMO through this FB post to advise the SSC to issue a corrigendum amending the date... fb.me/1L9W1VEG0
Someone by name #Arrow Singh had posted a message on FB this morning beseeching me to press for and support cancellation of the CGL 2013. I went to his page on FB and realized that it cannot be his actual name. Nor can the profile photograph on the page his. In all probability, he is either an unscrupulous official of SSC who had been deprived of his illegal gratification during my tenure or a stooge of his or someone planted by the manipulators of recruitment examinations. That set me thinking. Why should people be in such a hurry to seek my support for cancellation of the examination? While vast majority of the candidates are totally against cancellation of the examination for the reason that their hard work for more than a year will go waste, whether they are overaged for the next examination or not, who will be interested in cancellation? It can only be the ring leaders of groups which manipulated the examination but whose candidates got caught in police action in different centres or one of the very few unscrupulous SSC officers- believe me, most SSC officers in HQ and Regional Offices barring a few who can be counted on the finger tips are honest and hard working. If the examination is cancelled there will be possibly no justification for criminal action in cases where arrests were effected by the Delhi police and in other states, even assuming that Delhi Police will ever be in a position to file charge sheets. If they have not filed charge sheets in cases they proudly mentioned in press releases and press conferences even after six months when will they file charge sheets? What has prevented them in apprehending the SSC ‘officers’ who they claim had been instrumental for the leak? They have got what they wanted- spreading around the word that SSC examinations are by and large ‘compromised’ whereas in reality the number of cases of manipulation may be only a few hundreds, who in any case would have been identified in the post examination analysis. I have reliable information that when there was not even a murmur against post examination analysis till as late as 2nd March 2013, there has been vocal criticism against it within the SSC. Is it to benefit those indulging in and abetting malpractices? This is a question to ponder over. I have already posted about efforts to manipulate the interviews in late 2012 by some elements in SSC leading to cancellation of those interviews and holding fresh interviews. After the initial disappointment and shock over yesterday’s developments, it now occurs to me that the SSC will never be in a position to salvage its reputation if CGL 2013 is cancelled on the basis of stray reports of manipulation of the examination process in a few venues (NOT Centres) in the Northern States. It also appears that the Delhi Police conclusion of ‘large scale’ leak is a surmise on the basis of investigations which have not so far reached their logical conclusion and resulted even in a single charge sheet, as far as I know, rather than a conclusion based on hard and irrefutable facts. Such untenable and unsupported surmises may be made in future too and SSC may not be in a position to hold a single examination or announce the result of any examination held so far with its head held high. From a position of the officers of SSC feeling proud of their achievements till a year ago, they will never be in a position to even say publicly that they work in the SSC. The need of the hour is to salvage the CGL 2013 and with that the reputation of SSC as a premiere recruiting organization in the government sector, in the interest of the nation. From the position of the SSC Chairman being invited by a Vice President of European Union to share his successful experiments in completing the recruitment cycle in 6 to twelve months despite manual applications and off line examinations, SSC may become the laughing stock even within the country. This is not the view of a former Chairman of SSC but an ordinary citizen of the country who is interested in ensuring that recruitment to the government continues to be carried out impartially, objectively and sincerely, ensuring utmost transparency and as per schedule. If CGL 2013 has to be salvages what are the options? Delhi police report indicates that it was in Tier II that there was wide spread ‘leak’. Tier II of the examination can be cancelled and held online within three months. CAT’s endorsement can be taken for this course of action. Even if some candidates had manipulated Tier I examination and went scot free they will fail in Tier II where minimum cut off can be prescribed in each paper. As the number of candidates, less those caught in various centres of Tier II, who ought to be disqualified and debarred for maximum number of years, the number of candidates will be just about 1.3 lakhs and it will be easy to find a vendor for holding the online examinations of Tier II on the same day across the country. It was a mistake to withdraw Tier III which was envisaged to filter out candidates indulging in doubtful activities in the previous two Tiers; however, with the condemnation of Tier II by Delhi Police, revival of Tier III retaining the marks of Tier II at this stage will be questionable. If there is no provision for online examination in notice of CGLE 2014, it should be incorporated through an addendum immediately so that Tier II of the Examination can be held online. The technology and infrastructure for online examination for large number of candidates in India was unproven till the second half of 2012. It is no longer so with the IBPS examinations held online for millions of candidates. SSC and DoPT should understand and recognize the forces behind the efforts to tarnish the image of the SSC through CGLE 2013 and ensure that CGLE 2013 is taken to its logical conclusion. One has to understand that Ministry of Home Affairs willingly entrusted the CAPF’s recruitments of Constables(GD), ASI and SI to SSC, and later SI in Delhi Police, because of its sound systems and efficiency. SSC cannot afford to show that the same systems have overnight become a liability. Mr Arrow Singh, or whatever his name is, has asked in his post whether populist posts are being made by a few to gain a few ‘likes’. What is the value of such likes to anyone Mr Arrow Singh? At least not to a man almost 63 years old now, who spends two hours every day on the laptop because of his love for SSC and for lakhs of candidates who need guidance, without expecting anything in return, as he had served for 38 long years in the government for nothing other than a meager salary.