IBPS (Institute of Banking Personnel Selection) which conducts bank recruitment exams has set down new criteria for applying for these exams, inflicting a minimum requirement of 60% marks at the UG level and reducing the age limit from 30 to 28, thus making lakhs of students ineligible for these exams.
This matter was brought to light because of a protest being organized by All India Students Association (AISA) and Revolutionary Youth Association (RYA).
The eligibility criteria for these banking exams hitherto were an undergraduate degree from any recognized institute/university, with an age limit of 30 years. In their new directive IBPS has changed the eligibility criteria to a mandatory 60% at the UG level and a maximum age limit of 28 years. The question is, when there is a written test of exacting standards, why is the IBPS insisting on such mandatory criteria and thus limiting the opportunity of sitting for these exams only to a special section? Such criteria have been recently scrapped from the SBI exam and no such criteria exist for the UPSC exam. These new anti-student criteria have placed the future of lakhs of students in jeopardy. On the one hand, lakhs of students will become ineligible for these exams and on the other hand, these criteria are against the basic principles of social justice and equality and also against natural justice. It also has a disadvantageous effect on SC/ST/PH students, whose job opportunities are greatly shrinking.
Lakhs of students in the country work hard to prepare for Bank Po/management trainee/clerical exams. Our nationalized banking sector is one of the few public sectors where there still remains a possibility of respectable jobs and a secure future. It is also true that as in other public sectors, there is an attempt by the government to privatize and contractualize the banking sector and deliver it into the hands of corporate companies. Even so, the banking sector today offers job opportunities to thousands of young people. There are over 20 nationalized banks in the country which annually recruit people for PO/management trainee/clerical jobs. Other than SBI, the IBPS conducts the exams for these posts in all the other nationalized banks.
Jobs in the banking sector are popular among the students of the middle, lower middle and poorer sections of society. The growing number of applicants each year for these jobs indicates their popularity on the one hand and the current unemployment crisis on the other hand. At such a time when the country is on the road to “jobless development”, the guarantee of social and economic security afforded by these banking sector jobs definitely attract youth in good numbers. As compared to preparation for medical, engineering, UPSC and other high profile exams, preparation for banking exams costs less and is more affordable. This is perhaps why lakhs of students in small towns as well as big cities like Patna, Delhi, Allahabad and Mumbai put their last ounce of effort in preparing for these exams.
In the last 60 years an unequal system of education has been developed in our country. Where educational institutes of excellence were opened for the rich, the rest of the society was left to the mercy of average or low quality institutes. In spite of poor resources and facilities, these students built a future for themselves on the strength of their own hard work. But of late the government has taken repeated measures to prevent even this minimal progress of poorer students towards a brighter future. The new rules of the IBPS are the latest in the series of attacks on equality, social justice and student rights. It is noteworthy that the government is trying to exclude lakhs of students from this job opportunity at a time when it is very vocal in boasting about “inclusive growth”. The truth about such empty boasts is now open for all to see.
Is it, in any way, fair to have these anti-student criteria which exclude the common students? In addition to those preparing for these exams, the student community in general must also become a part of the struggle to make sure this does not happen. We must not let IBPS have this elitist criteria.