The existing Services Selection Board (SSB), in vogue since 1948, is a five-day long process for officer selection which includes an interview, group testing and psychological testing of the aspirants. Indian armed forces are trying out a new system of officer selection to bring the selection process in tune with the changing job requirement of a modern military officer, while allowing them to better assess the newer generation of aspirants. The new selection system, once approved, will be implemented from 2019. The existing Services Selection Board (SSB), in vogue since 1948, is a five-day long process for officer selection which includes an interview, group testing and psychological testing of the aspirants. Candidates who are called for the SSB without having passed a UPSC written exam are administered a screening test on the first day.
Qualifying on the screening test is mandatory for the candidates to take further tests. The new ‘De Novo Selection System’, which has been designed by DRDO’s Defence Institute of Psychological Research (DIPR) lab over five years, will accomplish the SSB testing in three days. The new system is being trialled at an SSB at Bangalore for two years, running in parallel with the existing tests. According to DRDO, testing trials in the first year will focus on the sub-systems while integration checks will be run in the second year.
“The SSB testing is personality based and not intelligence based. Our aim with the new tests is to reduce the gap between technological development and human skill development. Formal education is not as important for a military officer of the future as the ability to adapt, learn, unlearn and relearn repeatedly and comprehensively. It is about the modern mind, not the traditional mindset,” a senior DRDO official explained. “We realise that the period of generational change has shrunk and the type of aspirants now changes dramatically within a decade, unlike earlier.
The post-1990 generation is a post-globalisation generation, whose analytical and cognitive abilities have gone up. The level of intellectual propensity is different, so are their expectations, not to forget the changes in the value system,” he added. A top DRDO official, who has been closely involved with the development of ‘De Novo Selection System’ said that the idea of a new testing process emerged from a detailed review of the existing selection system. The review is carried out by DIPR for both the assessed and the assessees, on the basis of decade wise data where the long-term profile of every officer in his service is compared with the entry-level profile identified during the selection process.
According to the senior DRDO official, “New techniques of behavioural testing are now available globally which are being used to automate and refine our system. The proposal has been discussed threadbare with the three services over the last five years when it first went to the Chiefs of Staff Committee for consideration of the three service chiefs. The armed forces have been very supportive and provided constructive feedback for the new system”.
Although the prototype tests for interview, group testing and psychological testing have been designed by DIPR, development of additional tests for different entries, training of assessors and creation of infrastructure for parallel run is still taking place. Subject to the outcome of the trials, based on DIPR’s data of parallel run, and its acceptability by the three defence services, the De Novo Selection System is likely to be implemented at all SSBs in 2019.
By reducing the period of SSB testing to three days, the new system will also help in making up for shortages by allowing a greater number of candidates to be tested “It has been ensured that there is no compromise on the quality of candidates being selected and the new selection system, if approved by all three services, would help in screening more candidates.
This will increase the capacity of SSBs, thereby reducing the deficiencies in the officer cadre and enhancing the satisfaction level,” a senior army official told The Indian Express. Indian army has a shortage of around 9,000 officers, as per a reply given in the Lok Sabha by Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar last month.
“NEW 3 DAY SSB PROCEDURE”
with the Buzz going around everywhere about the De novo system, you would be eager to know about it. De novo is a Latin word for “anew,” which means starting over, as in a trial de novo. So, you would be wondering what is the need for this change ? well it is to bring the selection process in tune with the changing job requirement of a modern military officer.
Furthermore, the present 5 day procedure is lengthy and has been in use since 1948. Indian army alone has a shortage of around 9,000 officers, as per a reply given in the Lok Sabha by Defence Minister in 2016.
By reducing the period of SSB testing to three days, it will help in making up for shortages by allowing a greater number of candidates to be tested. Moreover This will increase the capacity of SSBs, thereby reducing the deficiencies.
Who has designed this System ? Credit for designing the system goes to DRDO Defence Institute of Psychological Research (DIPR)
When will it be functional ? The new selection system, once approved, will be implemented from 2019. The new system is currently running in parallel with the existing tests at SSB bangalore.
NOW LET’S COME TO ACTUAL 3 DAY SSB PROCESS
First comes the screening. Now The changes in screening aren’t yet decided and are still being figured out to suit the system.
DAY – 1
let’s say manish is appearing for day 1 SSB after being screened in. His day one starts with the psychology.
Therefore Manish will go through various tests of psychology. Before this Manish and other candidates will go for a 1600m run. A slab will be decided to allot marks to the candidates likewise.
Next will be the Situation reaction Test (SRT). There will be 60 questions each of which has to be answered in 30 seconds. You would be wondering that the present SRT is nothing different. Well the difference here is that SRT will no more be a fill ups where you are given a situation and a blank space to write your response. The SRT’s under this system will be that of MCQ based where a set of 4 situations will be given to you.
These situations will be either negative response or a neutral response. You will be given 30 seconds to prioritize your response.
Next is Word Association test (WAT). In WAT candidates are given a set of words simultaneously one after the other and he is expected to write a SENTENCE on it. However in this system a candidate is expected to write 3 words instead of a sentence
Next comes TAT (Thematic apperception test). Here candidate was required to write 11 stories on the pictures shown to him + one blank story. As per the new system he has to write ONLY 9stories and NO BLANK STORY.
Finally, Self description test will be as it is.
DAY – 2
Day 2 starts with Group Tasks. Following is the list of tests conducted in Group task.
Group Discussion (GD)
Candidates will have a discussion on 2 topics.
Group Planning Exercises (GPE):
In general, the test will be conducted in 5 parts
• Explanation of model
• Next is the reading of narrative by GTO
• Then comes 5 minutes of self-reading
• Then 10 minutes for writing an individual plan
• Finally, 20 minutes to discuss the common plan
Progressive Group Task (PGT)
Group Obstacle Race
Half Group Task
Final Group Task
Earlier this would have taken almost 2 days. But now the provision is to wrap up everything in a day.
DAY – 3
Day 3 will begin with Personal interview by the President/Deputy president of the board followed by the conference where a candidate is either recommended or not recommended. Subject to the outcome of the trials, based on DIPR’s data of parallel run, and its acceptability by the three defence services, the Selection System is likely to be implemented at all service selection boards in 2019.