No Exam Fever Here

For an organization entrusted with the mammoth task of
conducting 17-18 annual examinations across the country for more than 1.2
million candidates, it is but natural to turn to technology to aid its mission.
In addition to the challenge of conducting examinations on schedule, the
Commission also has to ensure accuracy in correcting answer sheets and in
announcing results. And certainly, there is nothing like technology to automate
the process and reduce the possibilities of human error.

The Commission’s executive director of Information Systems,
Tilak Ram Wadhwa, has a dual mandate: to integrate the work flow of the
Commission and reduce the time lag in conducting the examinations and to
facilitate the candidates’ interface with the Commission.

Process automation will soon cut time delays in UPSC recruitments

Says, Wadhwa, "Technology adoption at the Commission is
not an align concept. We have always deployed technology to help us in
conducting the examination. The challenge today is to upgrade those systems and
to streamline the processes."

UPSC had installed OMRs (optical micro readers) almost ten
years ago to check the answers in multiple choice questions. The technology has
been successfully deployed till date but the constant challenge is to ensure its
effectiveness at all times. So, in addition to monitoring the process manually,
the papers are double-checked in different OMRs in order to ensure that they are

Another instance where IT has helped the Commission to be
more effective is in checking applications and issuing identity cards to
suitable candidates. The Commission now has a standardized application form.
After the application is received, it is scanned and the eligible candidate is
automatically issued the admit card. The process is completely automated and
even the address is printed on the cards automatically so there is no error in
writing the address.

"The onus has now shifted to the candidate to fill the
form correctly. What’s more, the candidate can now track the status of his
application online with details of the date of receipt, acceptance status and
issue of admit cards," quips Wadhwa. The next phase of implementation will
be to accept applications online. Currently application forms are received only
through post offices.

The other challenge is to integrate the workflow among the
different departments engaged in holding exams. For instance, the IT department,
which receives the applications, passes the information about the number of
candidates to the administrative department to print that many question papers
and answer sheets. The administrative department in turn, informs those
conducting the exams about the number of seats to be arranged at different
locations across the country and arrange for invigilators and examiners
accordingly. Currently, all this information is passed along manually prolonging
the process of recruitment from six months to one year. By automating the
process, the recruitment cycle is expected to be much shorter.

UPSC has approached TCIL to prepare a blueprint for
implementing the project, for which the draft report is ready. The Commission
expects to spend more than Rs 10 crore in implementing its IT projects over the
next few years. It has an employee strength of 2500 and around 450 PCs, most of
which are connected on separate departmental LANs.

Balaka Baruah Aggarwal/CNS
in New Delhi

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