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Railway jobs: Chugging towards a secure system

Illustration: Sebastian Francis

Illustration: Sebastian Francis  

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As millions seek to crack the Railway exams, the recruitment board is trying to make its computer-based evaluation model foolproof

Indian Railways is looking for new technology solutions to make its Computer Based Tests (CBTs) more robust and foolproof. CBTs are used for the selection of candidates for railway jobs.

In September, the Railway Recruitment Control Board (RRCB) issued a notification on the official website inviting Exam Conducting Agencies that met certain criteria to attend a meeting relating to CBTs.

(There are 21 Railway Recruitment Boards that function under the Railway Recruitment Control Board, and the CBTs are conducted in 15 languages.)

Although RRBs have completely gone digital and made all the recruitment processes, including calling applications, organising examinations, evaluation of candidates, verification of documents and formation of a panel of eligible candidates, computer-based, it is facing new technology challenges in dealing with the huge number of applications it receives.

RRCB has received crores of applications for the centralised employment notifications (CENs) that it issued in 2018-19. There are a few more examinations waiting to be conducted this year. For example, more than 1.2 crore candidates have applied for a CEN it issued in January 2019. According to media reports, in August, a CBT question paper relating to an RRB junior exam was found floating around on the Internet. Following this, RRCB came out with a list of pre-, during and post-examination requirements that an Exam Conducting Agency had to meet. For CBTs to be event-free, ECA needs to ensure the examination software (version) is certified and tested for ensuring the integrity of the examination. It also needs to adopt certified technological security measures in protecting and transmitting sensitive data. The notification lists norms for hiring exam centres and handling post-exam activities.

Before inviting a tender for finalisation of an exam conducting agency, the organisers met prospective bidders to learn about their credentials as well as the methodology they would use to conduct CBTs.

A senior official of the RRB told The Hindu that the Boards have been evolving in the way they conduct examinations.

One challenge they faced with CBTs is the limit on the number of candidates that can take the examination.

“The capacity for computer-based test is limited to 1.5 lakh people per session or 4.5 lakh people per day. As the country is evolving, this capacity will only increase,” says the official.

Improved process

CBTs were first introduced in September 2015 for selection of junior engineers and senior section engineers. Close to 18 lakh candidates took the examination then. “In 2016-17, over a crore candidates took various exams,” he said. CBTs have reduced the effort spent on printing booklets of question paper, transporting them and has also speeded up the recruitment process.

“For the first CBT, as against one year we completed the whole process in six months,” he said. But, the time taken may differ depending on the exam and the kind of job for which the recruitment is being carried out. While Group D exams are conducted in one sitting, a few categories have screening, technical and psychology test, all of them done digitally. “We are constantly evolving and upgrading,” said the official.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2020 1:50:48 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/careers/chugging-towards-a-secure-system/article29897726.ece

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