Dear Madras HC,
Three days ago, I read that you passed an conjunctive order(http://ibnlive.in.com/news/hc-restrains-psus-from-campus-hiring/232542-60-120.html), which barred the PSUs named in the order(like HPCL, BPCL) from recruiting from the campus till the final hearing. You were reported to have raised concerns about the fairness of the process, and about employment exchange members being considered. With due respect, I submit that barring campus placements by PSUs is misplaced, for reasons explained below
- Equal Opportunity for public service:- I'm sure you know the law better than me, but from my understanding, it would mean equal opportunity to be considered. The PSUs I know of do not have campus placements as their exclusive mode of recruitment for any post, but supplement their existing exams/applications with campus placements. So others do have a chance to anyways apply also. And even if the role is different, it is the business judgement of the PSU as to whether students of any particular campus are best fit for it.
- Reasonable cause for 'discrimination':- The constitutional prohibition on discrimination is circumscribed by the reasonableness test, and the PSUs just need a show an intelligible link between their selection process and their desired outcome. During campus placements, the PSU knows that its student pool has been vetted, tested and nurtured during the 2year period(atleast for the reputed colleges which the PSUs visit). Also, the PSU can subject the students to tests w/o using its own infrastructure, can interview multiple students on the same day, and more importantly can steal a march over its private sector competitors. Hence, this process meets the tests of efficacy and efficiency.
- No recruitment assured/equally competitive ratios:- Though the PSU may still give offers to ensure its place in the next year's lineup, the fact remains that giving 1-2 offers to a pool of say 400 students compares favourably with the conversion ratio of entrance exams, more so for 'serious' applicants who can even clear the entrance tests.
- Public purpose of professional management:- Multiple committee reports on PSUs have stressed the need for PSUs to infuse young professional managers to compete with their private sector peers. And given that MBAs confident in their abilities are unlikely to have the time/inclination to undergo the prolonged selection process of the exams. So like other recruiters, PSUs do need to wow the students by actually coming down on campus
- But yes, the ruling can cover these points to ensure the fairness
- Management Quota students:-For Students who have not got admission via explicitly protected quotas(like affirmative action) or merit, the merit argument is much weakened. Hence, the question is should PSUs consider those students for campus interviews too? This is the classical nature versus
- Centralized Assessment Centres:-To ensure that more students(campus or otherwise) get a chance to be considered post written tests, a chain of PSU assessment centres could be set up to evaluate interpersonal skills/group tasks ability etc. Outsourcing this may pose integrity issues, unless it be to reputed players like Teamlease subject to strict audits etc.
- Conduct non campus candidate's interviews first:-This will help PSUs gauge their talent pool much more accurately, so that they can make the spot offers which are the norm in the campus system.
- An objective definition of merit to prevent nepotism:-PSUs DO have clearly defined role and recruiting documents(which would help build case that they do not discriminate). They should not relax those standards for campus, and ensure that conflicts of interest(like relatives on campus..) do not enter the campus process.