SSC Exam Scam Part I: Unemployed being taken for a ride

Arguably bigger than Vyapam scam, SSC’s alleged recruitment scam triggered a massive protest by candidates who came from across the country to the SSC HQ in Delhi to demand a time-bound CBI inquiry

NH photo by Vipin
NH photo by Vipin

Vikrant Jha

Ravi (not his real name; he refuses to disclose his name or get photographed) first cleared the Combined Higher Secondary Level examination conducted by the Staff Selection Commission in 2015-16. In the results declared in November 2015, he was declared to have passed the online objective test and selected for the next round of written examination. In April 2016, his name figured among the lucky few who had made the final cut. But in March 2018, he is still waiting for his joining letter.

In 2016, he appeared and cleared the Combined Graduate Level (CGL) examination for Group ‘B’ posts. “I was just trying my luck while I was still waiting for my joining letter,” he says. When the final results were declared in August 2017, his name again figured in the list of successful candidates. But once again, he is still waiting for the call letter from the Government.

Visiting the office of the SSC is futile because he has no idea which ministry would call him. But this abnormal delay is problematic and raises the suspicion that the unemployed are being taken for a ride. Several candidates voiced their apprehension that the chosen ones may have been appointed through the back door while the ‘selected’ candidates either give up hope and join low-paying and insecure jobs in the private sector or knock on the judiciary if they have the time, resources and the energy. They of course have the option of waiting.

“While we struggle, work hard and prepare for the exams with meagre means, others with money power secure impossibly high marks, which we suspect is not possible without external help,” say the candidates

But because the SSC is informed in advance of the existing number of vacancies and how many candidates are to be selected, a delay of two years between selection and appointment smells of a rat.

“Since 2015, SSC is not issuing joining letters,” claims a candidate who admits he is a ‘veteran’ having appeared in a number of selection tests. Even candidates selected by the SSC, unsure if and when they would eventually get the joining letter, appear in subsequent exams also, they point out. And if one candidate gets selected on both occasions and joins one of the slots, one of the two slots would remain vacant. Or, are these slots getting filled through the back door?

“If this is how sloppy the SSC is, despite its boast of being “one of the largest recruiting agencies in the world in the Government sector, how can candidates retain their faith in the selection process,” asks Meenakshi (name changed) who claimed to have appeared in the CGL exam in 2016.

Ravi and Meenakshi were among several thousand candidates who had assembled in the capital to protest. “While we struggle, work hard and prepare for the exams with meagre means, others with money power secure impossibly high marks, which we suspect is not possible without external help,” they complained.

Quiz: How many vacancies in the central government?

There have been conflicting, even contradictory, reports about the number of vacancies in the central government. This is what we have in the public domain:

• As of January 2018, there were 36.33 lakh posts sanctioned. As many as 32.21 lakh posts are said to have been filled up by the government.

• But Economic Times claimed in a report on January 18, 2018 that there were four lakh posts vacant in the central government.

• It also provided a break-up of the vacancies: Group A : 15,284; Group B: 49,740 and Group C: 3.21lakh

• Media reports around the same time suggested that the Finance Ministry was compiling vacancies which are five years old or even older and plans to scrap them.

• Direct recruitment by the central government apparently declined from 1.5 lakh in 2013 and 1.26 lakh in 2014 to just 15, 877 in 2015, claimed Minister of State Jitendra Singh in the Lok Sabha in March 2017

• In September 2017, it was reported that two million (20 lakh) vacancies existed at the Centre/State levels. This report, contrary to other reports cited here, held that six lakh posts were vacant in central ministries and departments (ET, September 28, 2017).

Clearly, neither the government nor the media have any idea about the number of vacancies in the central government.

This is part 1 of the three-part story.

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