The online common eligibility test for majority of government recruitments and Mission Karmayogi for capacity building of central employees were some key initiatives for the personnel ministry in 2020.
Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the ministry took timely measures to facilitate smooth functioning of all the central government offices and provided safe working conditions to over 48 lakh employees.
The concept of work-from-home necessitated due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown to stem the spread of the deadly infection besides staggered working hours and attendance system initiated by the personnel ministry ensured that central government organisations continued to work.
Various steps were also announced during the year by the ministry to ensure that central government pensioners do not face any problem in submitting life certificates – a proof required to be submitted by them to the pension disbursing banks for continued pension.
In November, it was decided by the Centre that postmen would provide doorstep service to the central government pensioners for submitting their life certificates online.
“In view of the current pandemic, it is a huge relief for pensioners to submit life certificates while staying at home,” a statement issued by the Personnel Ministry had said.
The government also came out with a format to file complaints with the anti-corruption ombudsman Lokpal.
“One of the historical path-breaking decisions is to have a national recruitment agency (NRA) which will conduct a common eligibility test (CET) for recruitments to government jobs,” Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh said.
He said this will provide a level playing field for job seekers by avoiding multiple selection tests at multiple locations.
“Further, the government has also decided to have at least one or more than one centre in every district of India so that economically disadvantaged candidates and women candidates especially, would not have to deprive themselves of such opportunities owing to any difficulty in travelling,” Singh told PTI.
He said Mission Karmayogi is again going to become a path-breaking decision in governance by providing constant upgrading mechanism for government officials.
“There will be an online facility for each official to acquire capacity building whenever he or she takes up a new assignment or whenever he or she is posted to a different assignment,” the minister said.
The Union Cabinet in August had decided to set up the national recruitment agency, a multi-agency body, for conducting the CET to screen or shortlist candidates for the Group B and C (non-technical) posts.
The NRA will have representatives from the Ministry of Railways, Ministry of Finance/Department of Financial Services, the Staff Selection Commission (SSC), Railway Recruitment Boards (RRBs) and the Institute of Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS).
At present, candidates seeking government jobs have to appear for separate examinations conducted by multiple recruiting agencies for various posts, for which similar eligibility conditions have been prescribed.
Candidates also have to pay fee to multiple recruiting agencies and have to travel long distances for appearing in various exams.
These multiple recruitment examinations are a burden on the candidates, as also on the respective recruitment agencies, involving avoidable or repetitive expenditure, law-and-order or security related issues and venue related problems.
On an average, 2.5 crore to 3 crore candidates appear in each of these examinations.
A CET would enable these candidates to appear once and apply to any or all of these recruitment agencies for the higher level of examination. This would indeed be a boon to all the candidates, the government had said.
It is envisioned that the NRA would be a specialist body bringing state-of-the-art technology and best practices to the field of central government recruitment.
The Union Cabinet had in September given nod to Mission Karmayogi, dubbed as the biggest bureaucratic reform initiative, aimed at capacity building to make government employees more “creative, proactive, professional and technology-enabled”, ending the culture of working in silos and ensuring transparency.
A council, comprising select union ministers, chief ministers and eminent public HR practitioners among others and headed by the prime minister, will serve as the apex body for providing strategic direction, while a Capacity Building Commission is also proposed to be set up.
The government had in March issued a format for filing complaints of corruption against public servants including the prime minister with the Lokpal, 11 months after the anti-corruption ombudsman was formed.
There is a vacancy of two judicial members in the Lokpal, against the strength of four. Lokpal’s judicial member Justice (retd) Ajay Kumar Tripathi had passed away in May. Another judicial member Justice (retd) Dilip B Bhosale had resigned from the post in January.
When asked about these vacancies, Singh said “filling up of vacancies is an ongoing process”.