In a bid to make police recruitment processes objective and immune to manipulation, the Karnataka State Reserve Police has introduced trade tests in the direct recruitment for ‘followers’.
The first phase of the recruitment drive, which completed with appointment orders being issued in January this year, came after the Karnataka State Government issued an order on July 30, 2021, regarding the direct recruitment of men to fill the post of ‘followers’ in the Karnataka State Reserve Police (KSRP).
Followers are Group ‘D’ employees that work as cooks, barbers, washermen, sweepers, water bearers – supporting trades that travel with the KSRP platoons when needed.
A senior police officer, who requested anonymity, said that this recruitment for followers was the first in over 15 years. “There are 14 KSRP battalions in the state, each with at least 1,000 personnel. This round of recruitment was made to fill a total of 250 vacancies across 6 battalions, to ensure that the KSRP is a fully self-supported force,” he said.
To make this as impartial as possible, they devised a mechanism beyond the extensive document verification process and physical standard tests.
Common endurance test
After a common endurance test for all, where only the water-bearers and sweepers were graded, the other follower candidates – cooks, barbers, and washermen – had to complete a trade test that assesses their skills in that particular trade.
Since this was the first time such a test was being devised, the KSRP contacted the Army, Border Security Force (BSF), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), other paramilitary and military forces, and the Institute of Hotel Management, besides external bodies with several years of experience in each trade for tips to constitute an expert committee, which assisted the three-person selection committee, said the officer.
The selection committee included a chairman, who was a Superintendent of Police (SP), and 2 assisting officers of the Deputy SP rank, who were supported by an administrative officer to verify documents. The expert committee included veteran followers and independent experts from sister forces and external bodies. The latter would assist the former in grading the applicants out of 40 marks for their performance in the trade test and out of 10 marks for their work experience.
“For example, we set up six counters for different cuisines or types of food for cooks. All the raw materials and supplies would be provided to the applicants, who had a fixed time to cook up dishes. These tests were conducted in 7 batches of 10 applicants each from 8 am to 6 pm,” he said.
None of the officers nor the expert committee members knew when they would be assigned or with whom. “They were informed only the evening before the test to be prepared for the test according to the guidelines approved by the Director General of Police, Recruitment. They were never told who would be with them and weren’t allowed to take their phones inside the testing halls,” said the officer.
He added that CCTV cameras were set up inside the testing centres, and the footage was live streamed to the office of Kamal Pant, then DGP (Recruitment).
To ensure complete impartiality, the committee was not allowed to discuss any of their remarks and by the end of each day, compiled the marks and announced the results to the applicants at the testing centre.
The first phase of recruitment was only for men but the next phases will actively look at hiring women as followers, said the officer.
(Published 12 November 2023, 23:33 IST)