News Excerpt
The Union Cabinet approved setting up of a National Recruitment Agency (NRA), an independent body to conduct examinations for government jobs.

Pre-Connect
•    In the Union Budget 2020, the government has announced the establishment of a National Recruitment Agency.
•    The NRA has been envisaged by the government to work as a single nodal agency for all government job recruitment at the central level.
•    The NRA will be a society registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860.
•    The NRA has its headquarters in Delhi-NCR and is an autonomous and self-reliant body to conduct the computer-based Common Eligibility Test (CET) to shortlist candidates for vacancies of Group B non-Gazetted posts, Group B Gazetted posts which are exempted from consultation with the UPSC, and Group C and equivalent posts in the government.
•    Though the Centre envisages to use the CET score for all recruitments in the future, initially this will be implemented only in three government agencies, i.e. Railway Recruitment Board, Staff Selection Commission and Institute of Banking Personnel Selection.

Composition of NRA:
    The chairman of the NRA will be of the rank of Secretary to the Government of India. He will be appointed by the government.
    Besides the chairman, the NRA will have eight members – a secretary of the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) or his representatives, representatives of the Ministry of Railways and the Department of Financial Services, chairmen of the Staff Selection Commission (SSC), the Railway Recruitment Board (RRB) and the Institute of Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS), and two experts from the field of academics.
    It will also have a Secretary and Controller of Examinations and the post will be held by an officer at the level of joint secretary to the government of India. The officer will be appointed on deputation basis.

Salient features of the NRA:
    NRA to conduct online CET twice in a year.
    Registration of applicants, generation of roll number/admit cards, display of marks, merit list, etc, will be done online.
    The CET would be available in 12 languages.
    The CET will be based on multiple choice objective type question papers.
    The CET score of a candidate will be valid for three years.
    Every district of the country will have an examination centre, including the 117 aspirational districts.
    CET to be conducted at over 1,000 centres.
    Examination centres in every district of the country would greatly enhance access to the candidates located in far-flung areas.
    A single examination would reduce the financial burden on candidates to a large extent.
    No restriction on number of attempts by the candidate, subject to upper age limit prescribed.
    Relaxation in upper age limit to be given to candidates of SC/ST/OBC/PwD, etc.
    Candidates would have the facility of registering on a common portal and give a choice of centres.
    NRA to ensure better access to rural, underprivileged candidates and women.
    The NRA will facilitate employment generation.
    CET scores can be shared with the Central government, State government, Union Territories, Public Sector Undertakings and private sector.
    NRA shall conduct a separate CET each for the three levels of graduate, higher secondary (12th pass) and the matriculate (10th pass) candidates for those non-technical posts to which recruitment is presently carried out by the SSC, RRBs and by IBPS.
    Based on the screening done at the CET score level, final selection for recruitment shall be made through separate specialised Tiers (II, III etc) of examination which shall be conducted by the respective recruitment agencies.
    The curriculum for this test would be common as would be the standard.
    This would greatly ease the burden of candidates who are at present required to prepare for each of the examinations separately as per different curriculum.
    The Government has sanctioned a sum of Rs 1,517.57 crore for the NRA.
    The expenditure will be undertaken over a period of three years.
    Apart from setting up the NRA, costs will be incurred for setting up examination infrastructure in the 117 aspirational districts.

Conclusion
The NRAwould actually help the recruiting agencies including the state and union territory governments to save the cost and time spent on recruitment, while at the same time also be convenient and cost-effective for the young job aspirants.

PEPPER IT WITH
Art. 312, 315; Specialists vs. Generalists, National Testing Agency,