Following a review of the “status human resources in all departments and ministries” by Prime Minister Narend Modi on Tuesday, his office tweeted that the PM had “instructed that recruitment of 10 lakh people be done by the Government in mission mode in next 1.5 years”.
Why has the government launched a massive employment drive at this point?
Over the last few years, the central government has been going slow on recruitments to regular posts. Its representatives have instead pointed to employment generation through Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Program (PMEGP), Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), Garib Kalyan Rozgar Abhiyaan (GKRA), Aatmanirbhar Bharat Rozgar Yojana (ABRY), Pt Deen Dayal Upadhyay Grameen Kaushalya Yojana (DDU-GKY) and Deen Dayal Antyoday Yojana-National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NULM), Mudra loans, Stand Up, etc.
But the yearning for government employment remains strong across the country, seen periodically in the waves of applications whenever posts are advertised, and in the proliferation of coaching classes for competitive exams for jobs of all categories. The government has been facing criticism on this issue — several leaders were confronted by youths during the UP Assembly election campaign, and slogans of “Sena bharti chalu karo” were raised in at least two rallies addressed by Defense Minister Rajnath Singh.
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The announcement on “mission mode” recruitments recognises this demand from younger voters. The 18-month window announced by the PM extends until December 2023, or about four months before Lok Sabha elections are expected to be held.
What is the current strength of the Center’s “human resources”?
The Union Budget for 2022-23 estimated the strength of central government employees at 34.65 lakh as on March 1, 2022. According to the latest available (2019-20) Annual Report of the Department of Expenditure, approximately 21.75% of the 40.78 lakh sanctioned posts were vacant as on March 1, 2020.
The Indian Railways are the biggest government employer — with 12.52 lakh employees as of March 1, 2020, and estimated strengths of 12.03 lakh and 12.01 lakh as on March 1, 2021 and 2022 respectively.
Almost 92% of the central government’s manpower is employed by the five ministries/departments of Railways (almost 40%), Home Affairs (almost 30%), Defense (Civil) (nearly 12%), Department of Posts (almost 5.50%) , and Department of Revenue (more than 3%).
Is that all?
No, it isn’t. A very large number of employees have been hired by central government ministries and departments on contract as per the recommendations especially of the last two Pay Commissions.
Union Minister of State for Labor and Employment Rameshwar Teli told Lok Sabha on March 21 this year that as of 2021, there were 24.30 lakh contract laborers/ workers/ employees in the “Central Sphere”. This number was 13.24 lakh in 2020 and 13.64 lakh in 2019. Central government employees in this category are mainly Multi-tasking Staff (MTS), and some retired employees, among others.
The MTS basically work as Group D staff, recruitment for which have been all but stopped — and the group itself was merged with Group C on April 30, 2020, based on the recommendation of the 6th Pay Commission.
Recruitments such as those of drivers too have almost ceased as several departments use hired taxis in bulk.
So exactly how many vacancies do the central government have?
On February 3, 2022, Minister of State in the DoPT Jitendra Singh told Rajya Sabha that as on March 1, 2020, as many as 8,72,243 positions were vacant in the central government. On July 22 last year, Singh had given Rajya Sabha the following break-up of vacancies as of March 1, 2020: Group A, 21,255; Group B, 94,842; Group C, 7,56,146.
In the elite IAS, 1,515 posts were vacant as on January 1, 2021 — DoPT’s annual report for 2020-21 states the sanctioned strength of the IAS is 6,746, but the actual strength is 5,231.
Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan told Rajya Sabha on April 6, 2022 that 6,558 and 15,227 teaching and non-teaching posts were vacant in the central universities. In September last year, he had directed all central universities to fill vacant posts by October 2022. A large number of employees superannuate at the end of every month, and if no recruitments are made, the posts lie vacant or are filled by contractual staff or by re-hiring retired staff.
What is the level of vacancies in the armed forces?
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Army put its recruitment process on hold for Recruiting Years 2020-21 and 2021-22. Minister of State for Defense Ajay Bhatt told Lok Sabha on December 10 last year that 7,476 posts of officers (including AMC/ ADC/ MNS), and 97,177 posts of JCOs/ ORs were lying vacant. The corresponding numbers for the Air Force were 621 and 4,850 respectively, and for the Navy, 1,265 and 11,166 respectively.
While recruitment rallies for General Duty in the Army have been on hold, the government on Tuesday announced the new ‘Agnipath’ scheme.
How many peole have been recruited in recent years?
Minister Singh’s Parliament response of February 3, 2022 shows that more than 2.65 lakh were recruited in 2020-21 —13,238 by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), 1,00,330 by the Staff Selection Commission (SSC), and 1,51,900 by the Railway Recruitment Boards (RRBs). According to the Minister’s reply, the last order to fill vacancies was issued on June 3, 2021.
Another reply provided by the Minister in Rajya Sabha on March 17, 2022 shows a large backlog of vacancies as on January 1, 2021 in the reserved (SC/ ST/ OBC) categories in 10 “major Ministries/Departments having more than 90 per cent” of the employees of the Central Government.
What are the main recruitment bodies, and how many have they recruited in recent years?
The UPSC and SSC are the two main recruiters of central government personnel. UPSC makes Group A and Group B recruitments; the SSC recruits for all Group B (Non-Gazetted) and Group C (Non-Technical) posts in central Ministries/ Departments and their Attached and Subordinate Offices, except those specifically exempted from its purview. It conducts several other examinations as well.
The UPSC advertised 27,764 posts and recruited 24,836 people in the last five years, Singh told Lok Sabha on April 6 this year. In the same period, the SSC advertised 1,85,734 posts and recruited 1,74,744 people.
The UPSC’s latest available Annual Report (2020-21) states that in the 14 exams held for Civil Services/ Posts and Defense Services in 2020-21, a total of 25.03 lakh candidates applied, 11.38 lakh appeared, and 3,986 were recommended for selection. In 2021-22 the UPSC recommended 4,699 candidates, as per the response given to Lok Sabha by Singh on April 6, 2022.
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The SSC, as per its Annual Report for 2020-21, conducted 12 All India Open Competitive Examinations, for which 1.08 crore candidates applied for different stages. The SSC also conducted the Combined Higher Secondary Level Examination, 2019 — its largest examination — for 41.68 lakh candidates across the country.
In all, the SSC recommended 68,533 candidates for appointment to various posts through All India Open Competitive Examinations and 358 candidates for Selection Posts during 2020-21. In 2021-22 recruitment fell to just 29,653, as per Singh’s April 6, 2022 response.
Twenty one RRBs recruited mainly Group C personnel for Railways; and the Institute of Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS) is engaged to recruit for nationalized and Regional Rural Banks. IBPS recruited 7,627 candidates to clerical posts and 4,398 officers in 2020-21.