SSC vacancies vanish without a trace under Modi government

Data shows that the Modi government reduced the number of SSC vacancies in various departments. Is this Modi’s plan of ‘minimum government and maximum governance’?

Students protesting the delay in SSC appointment (Twitter)
Students protesting the delay in SSC appointment (Twitter)

Ashlin Mathew

Unemployment is at an all time high in the country. In April, it had risen to 7.6%, the highest since October 2016, and up from 6.71% in March, according to data compiled by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE). It is in the midst of such a crisis that the government of India has decided to reduce several of the vacancies announced in several departments.

The government conducted the last recruitment in 2017. When the exams were announced for Staff Service Commission-Combined Graduate Level (SSC-CGL), there were 8,089 vacancies. But, one of the papers in this test was marred by allegations of paper leak. Protests erupted and cases were filed. As a result of the case, the top court had stayed the declaration of result of the 2017 Staff Selection Commission exams saying it seemed that the entire test and system was “tainted”. However, on May 9, 2019, a bench of Justices SA Bobde, SK Kaul and Indira Banerjee vacated the stay on the result.

As soon as the stay was vacated, the SSC released a revised list of vacancies on the evening of May 9 itself for the tests which were conducted two years ago. However, there were discrepancies.  

While there was only a marginal increase of 45 seats in two years from 8089 to 8134, several vacancies that were advertised for in 2017, have not been mentioned in 2019.

In this list, there was a reduction of 1,792 vacancies, instead of an increase as one would have expected with the passage of time. And in some cases, the vacancies have vanished. There were 500 vacancies for Assistant Accounts Officer in CAG, but the latest May list shows no vacancies. There was a requirement for 401 income tax officers in CBDT, but now 261. In CAG, there were 900 vacancies for auditors, but now they have advertised only for 200. Initially there were 232 vacancies for Upper-division clerks, but in the recent release, there has been a reduction of 122, making it 110 vacancies only.

But, it’s not as if there aren’t vacancies, it is just that the SSC-CGL is under reporting the vacancies. In the latest list released by SSC, it shows there are only 50 vacancies for junior statistical officers, but responses obtained through RTI shows that there are 124 vacancies. And such under-reporting has happened in several cases. In case of vacancies in CAG, an RTI response shows that there are 500 posts to be filled, but the SSC has not called for it.

Under Central Bureau of Investigation, SSC has said that there are no vacancies, but an RTI response states that there are 62 vacancies in Kolkata circle itself.

These Group B, Group C vacancies should not be filled withadhoc staff either.

The list of vacancies released in 2017 was the lowest since 2011. In 2011, there were 12,586 vacancies, 2012, 16119 and in 2013, 15146. In 2014, which was when the UPA-II government led by Manmohan Singh was power, the number of vacancies peaked at 15,549 and since then it has halved. In 2015, there were only 8,511 vacancies announced, and almost half of the previous year. In 2016, the Modi government released slightly more vacancies (10,661), after SSC-CGL aspirants began protesting. And in 2017, it was 8089.

And since then neither has SSC-CGL called for exams, nor has any hiring happened with public knowledge. This has adversely affected many students who wait for these exams to qualify as these are age-dependent examinations.

Several months ago, the PMO had sought vacancies from all departments, but then the minister of statistics DV Sadananda Gowda said that the PM and his staff were busy with elections to release any such circular.

On May 10, it was reported that there were 38,581 posts lying vacant in the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) alone across the country. Moreover, according to sources, there has been a concerted effort not to give the SSC details about vacancy and the SSC too has not been enquiring with the departments about the vacancies. In the Income Tax department, there are 50% vacancies and in CAG, around 50% of the posts are lying vacant. There are 3.8 lakh vacancies in the Railways, but there have been no efforts to fill them said members of the All India Railwaymen Federation.

Through the Staff Selection Commission, several Group B and Group C staff are recruited to posts in the various Ministries and Departments. These include junior engineers, auditors, inspectors, clerks, tax assistants, among other posts. The SSC Combined Graduate Level exam has a four-tier system, in which tier I and tier II are computer-based, while in tier III and IV, job applicants take up a descriptive paper and a computer proficiency test. After this comes the document verification. Once, that is done too, then a candidate is hired. The whole process from the first exam till the document verification takes a more than 300 days. Since, the last exam, 790 days have passed and there is still no recruitment in sight. It’s no wonder then that several of these students end up depressed.

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Published: 28 May 2019, 7:11 PM