‘This System Has Crushed Our Enthusiasm’: Between Delayed Processes And Underreported Vacancies, Staff Selection Commission Aspirants Have Nowhere To Go
Anguished SSC aspirants spoke to NewsCentral24x7 about their future and its uncertainty.
Twenty-six-year-old Ankit Srivastav is uncertain about his future despite securing a decent score in the Staff Selection Commission Combined Graduate Level Exams. He says, “SSC is playing with our lives”.
Ankit appeared for the SSC-CGLE in 2017. He is one of the 36,000 odd aspirants who have been cleared for approximately 8,000 vacancies in government jobs. Allegations of a leaked test marred one of his papers. A protest erupted, and cases were filed. The Supreme court then stayed the declaration of result for the 2017 SSC exams saying that the entire test and system was “tainted”. However, on May 9, 2019, a bench comprising of Justices SA Bobde, SK Kaul and Indira Banerjee vacated the stay on the result.
The Staff Selection Commission (SSC) is an organisation under the central government that recruits for various posts in different ministries and departments of the government. These include junior engineers, auditors, inspectors, clerks, tax assistants, among other positions.
Ankit tells NewsCentral24x7, “The whole process from the first exam until the document verification should be completed within six months. But two years have passed, and we’re still living in uncertainty.” He adds, “I have been under a lot of financial pressure. I have to share the burden of my ageing father, who is a teacher in a private school”.
A BTech graduate from Kanpur University, Ankit had been working in Wipro till 2016. He left the job and started preparation for SSC in the hopes of landing a government job. Despite securing decent marks in his second attempt, employment opportunities remain beyond the horizon; SSC has slashed vacancies in many departments and declined thousands of reported vacancies.
Several RTI responses show that different departments have reported 3,756 vacancies to SSC. The Comptroller General of Defence Accounts reported 3,082 jobs for the post of auditor to be filled through SSC-CGLE 2017. Similarly, the CAG reported 100 vacancies for the position of Assistant Account Officer and 500 vacancies for Accountants. The Ministry of Statistical and Program Implementation reported 74 vacancies for Junior Statistical Officers.
A thoroughly dejected Ankit notes, “SSC has refused to add all these vacancies.”
He says that several vacancies that were advertised for 2017 had not been mentioned in 2019. There was a reduction of total 1,792 jobs, instead of an increase as one would have expected with time.
In some cases, the jobs have vanished. There were 500 vacancies for Assistant Accountant Officer in the CAG. The latest list, however, shows none. Similarly, in the Central Board of Direct Taxes, 401 officers were required, but now that figure has dropped to 261. In the CAG there were 900 jobs for auditors in 2017. Currently, there are only 200. There was a requirement for 232 Upper Division Clerks in various departments, but in a recent release, there has been a reduction of 122, bringing the number of vacancies down to 110.
Ankit says that despite studying hard and clearing all those levels of exam, he is forced to spend his “prime years” filling in RTIs, gathering information from various departments and ministries: “I have written letters to the Prime Minister as well. But I have not got a satisfactory response so far.”
Waiting for years for results, combined with the SSC’s denial of reported vacancies has killed the hopes of many aspirants; these exams are age-dependent. For Combined Graduate Level Exams, the age-limit is 30.
Thirty-two-years-old Ashish Pandey, a resident of Allahabad, wanted to become a Junior Statistical Officer. A mechanical engineer, he worked at a manufacturing company in Faridabad till 2016. Unable to meet his family’s financial requirements with his salary, he decided to prepare for government jobs. Despite securing a decent score, he is no longer hopeful of such a future. He tells NewsCentral24x7, “When I appeared in 2017, I was 30-years-old. I’m over-aged now. I can not appear for any combined graduate level exams. My only hope is SSC-CGLE 2017. Two years of my life have been snatched away from me.”
Ashish too says that the SSC has been under-reporting the vacancies. In the latest list released by SSC, there were only 50 vacancies for junior statistical officers. A response obtained through an RTI query, however, indicated that there were 124 vacancies. Such under-reporting does not appear to be an isolated incident. In the case of the CAG, an RTI response showed that there were 500 posts to be filled. SSC, however, did not call for it. Ashish alleges, “SSC is punishing us for protesting against paper leak,” adding, “This system has crushed all the enthusiasm that I had a few years ago to serve the country.”
Thirty-years-old Deepak is a graduate in marine engineering. A resident of Patna, Bihar, Deepak also appeared for SSC-CGLE in 2017. He too is in the same boat. Deepak tells NewsCentra24x7, “CAG has reported 100 vacancies, but SSC has declined to say that these vacancies were reported at last stage”.
Deepak says that many departments have repeatedly requested the SSC to fill reported vacancies from SSC CGL 2107, as they are going through a shortage of workforce. Responding to an RTI query, the Ministry of Programme Implementation said, “In view of the facts mentioned above and shortage of manpower in SSS, SSC is requested to treat the number of vacancies of JSOs for CGLE-2017 as ‘124′ as intimated by this ministry, time and again”.
“However, SSC itself has added 3125 vacancies of CGDA previous year that was reported at last stage,” he informed.
Sanjay Thul, the president of the All India Federation of Customs, Central Excise and GST and SC/ST Employees and Welfare Organisations, has filed many RTI queries regarding vacant posts. He tells NewsCentral24x7, “Across the country, a huge number of posts are lying vacant. Due to lack of human resources, existing employees are overburdened. With increasing workload resulting in a heavy amount of pending works departments.” He adds, “I have written a letter to the Prime Minister, requesting, these posts need to be filled. It will give the opportunity to the numbers of unemployed youth in the country”.
NewsCentral24x7 repeatedly tried to contact the chairman of Staff Selection Commission, Asim Khurana over phone calls but was unable to reach out to him. We will update the story if and when he responds.
Despite a 45-years high in the unemployment numbers in India, the list released in 2017 had the lowest number of vacancies since 2011. Under the UPA rule, the number of vacancies steadily increased. In 2011, there were 12,586 vacancies; in 2012, 16,119; in 2013, 15,146; 2014 recorded the highest number of vacancies at 15,549. Since then, however, the numbers have gone down drastically — it halved in 2015, with only 8,511 vacancies announced; in 2016, 10,661 vacancies were announced.
In response to Shiv Sena MP Shrikant Shinde’s queries on the number of vacancies, Minister of State for Personnel, Jitendra Singh, quoted 6.8 lakhs posts vacant under the central government. In the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs, 38,581 positions were empty, which comes to around 42 per cent of the total sanctioned strength. In CAG almost 50 per cent posts are lying vacant.
Amid national outrage over unemployment, it is surprising that institutions that have the responsibility of recruiting, including the SSC, are slashing numbers instead of trying to fill them. Ankit, Ashish and Deepak are among the thousands who have their hopes pinned to SSC-CGLE 2017. Only time can tell if those hopes will ever be realised.