In July 1969, groundbreaking changes were made to India’s financial sector with the nationalization of 14 big banks. The second phase of the nationalization of banks took place in 1980 when six more banks were brought under government control.
The step was felt necessary as banks were offering their services to a very small segment of people, their branches being limited mostly to metropolitan and urban centers. Banks catered only to the rich, big businesses, and industrialists. As there was no concept of rural banking, the poor farmers and village locals were exploited by big businessmen and money lenders who offered loans at exorbitant interest rates.
The nationalization of banks was done mainly to expand the bank branch network to unrepresented areas and make banks accessible to common people. However, despite the expansion of branches to rural and semi-urban areas, more steps were deemed necessary to involve banks in the socio-economic development of the country. Hence, a number of schemes were introduced and implemented through nationalized banks.
Though a very large number of bank branches were opened after nationalization at rural and semi-urban centers, somehow the extended network was not found entirely sufficient to serve the rural populace. It was felt that more bank branches were needed in rural areas to manage the savings of rural people, help farmers in agriculture and promote rural entrepreneurship. With this idea, the Regional Rural Banks (RRBs) Act was introduced in the Parliament in the year 1976.
Initially, RRBs were meant to have lowcost structures. The compensation and benefits for RRB employees were lower than the employees in nationalized banks. However, as of now, the pay scales are largely similar in both nationalized banks and RRBs. A number of restructuring and realignments have happened in rural bank’s space. Now, there are 56 RRBs in the country spread from Haryana to remote corners of Arunachal Pradesh.
To meet their manpower needs, RRBs make fresh recruitments on regular basis. The recruitment process is normally an annual exercise that covers the sourcing of people for all RRBs in a single process. The recruitment exercise is conducted by the Institute of Banking Personnel Selection (www.ibps.in). For the past many years, IBPS advertises vacancies for all RRBs in one go. The process is centralized but candidates have to apply for RRBs in a particular state. The selection process is similar to the one followed for recruitment to PSBs.
Clerical positions in RRBs have a different nomenclature. It is known as Office Assistant (Multipurpose). The positions belong to group B. Graduates in all disciplines can apply for the position. They also need to have proficiency in the local language (the language spoken in the state) as stipulated by the concerned RRB.
All the eligible candidates would be first required to appear in a preliminary examination consisting of objective type questions. The paper will have two segments of reasoning and numerical ability with 40 questions each to be attempted in 45 minutes. Based on their performance in this preliminary examination, a limited number of candidates will get the opportunity to participate in the main examination which has segments of reasoning, computer knowledge, general awareness, numerical ability, Hindi & English language.
Among Hindi & English language, the candidate has to choose one only. In the main examination, 200 questions in all are to be answered in a time span of 200 minutes (3 hours 20 minutes). In both preliminary and main examination, each question carries one mark and a quarter (1/4) is deducted for every wrong answer.
A merit list of successful candidates is prepared on the basis of marks in the main examination. Subject to available vacancies, allotments are made for different RRBs which issue appointment offers to the selected candidates. For the last few years, for clerical positions, interviews don’t constitute a part of the selection process.
Entry-level officers’ positions in RRBs come as Scale-I officer.
Simple graduation is the eligibility criteria set for scale-I officers. However, preference is given to graduates in accountancy, law, management, agriculture, horticulture, forestry, pisciculture, agricultural marketing and cooperation, information technology, veterinary science, animal husbandry, agricultural engineering, or economics.
Proficiency in the local language is also required. The selection process consists of three stages -preliminary examination, main examination, and interview. The preliminary examination comprises reasoning and quantitative aptitude whereas the main examination tests candidates in computer knowledge, reasoning, general awareness, quantitative aptitude, and either Hindi and English language.
Aspirants can opt for the preliminary as well as main examinations in a language of their choice including English, Hindi, and the state’s official language. To illustrate, for an applicant who has chosen Assam, the question paper shall be in Assamese, English, and Hindi.
RRBs also make direct recruitment of officers in scale-II (generalist and specialist) and scale-III.
For scale-II generalist, one should be a graduate in any subject with 50% marks with two years’ work experience as an officer in a bank or financial institution. Degree holders in the subjects as mentioned for scale- I or in finance or banking are preferred. For specialist Scale-II officers, the candidates based on their qualifications may apply for the position of Agricultural officer / Information Technology officer/Law officer / Marketing officer/ Chartered accountant. For example, a law graduate has the option to apply for the post of a law officer.
For scale-III officer in RRBs, 5 years of work experience in a bank or financial institution is required. If you’re an eligible graduate you may apply both for scale-I officer and office assistant. There will be one single examination for Scale-II and III officer positions and the test comprise a section each on financial awareness and quantitative aptitude with data interpretation replacing general awareness. The specialist officers’ test will have an additional section of professional knowledge from the specialized area.
All of the above tests are conducted online. The test pattern is similar to that followed for selecting executive or management trainees in public sector undertakings and various other organizations. The most crucial part for office assistant and the scale-I officer is to qualify in the preliminary examination so that they are able to appear in the main examination. It is important to know the nature of questions in each segment and then plan your preparation.
The reasoning section checks your application of logic in a given situation. You have to draw conclusions by studying the given statement/ data etc., keeping away your personal biases. Reasoning has many forms -logical, analytical, etc. Another way to classify is putting this into inductive, deductive, and causal reasoning. Questions here may relate to seating arrangements, blood relationships, sense of direction, correlation, sequencing of letters, alphanumeric series, etc.
The section on computer knowledge may comprise anything related to computers-hardware, software, and security, etc. You need to know about the different components of a computer and their roles. Simple facts about MS-Office, Word, Excel, etc. may be asked. Questions may also relate to various keys and key combinations, computing principles, computer languages, networking, types of cybercrimes (phishing, etc.), core banking platforms, computer viruses, internet, cybersecurity, and other related topics. For specialist computer officers, the paper would test wider knowledge in the matter.
General awareness is a familiar area for all competitive examinations. The challenge here is to define the syllabus considering the vastness of this area. First and foremost, keep a track of major national and global happenings of the past year. Knowledge about sports, sports events, and sportspersons, currencies of different nations, parks, and sanctuaries of national/global fame, historical events and monuments, banking related developments, United Nations and its agencies, various government schemes, scientific discoveries will help.
Since there is a choice to be made between two languages, candidates should think and decide which of these will fetch them more marks. We may read, write, and speak both languages, but answering questions requires more effort and this section shouldn’t be taken for granted. Those having studied in Hindi medium or Hindi as their mother tongue may find it easier to choose Hindi. Students from non-Hindi backgrounds need to decide carefully as in many cases their knowledge of Hindi is better than that of English.
This section is most likely to have questions on comprehending a passage, synonyms, antonyms, filling sentences with right words, idioms, and phrases, arranging sentence parts to make meaningful sentences, one word for many words, finding incorrectly spelled words, identifying wrong part in sentences, etc.
The pattern for at least a few questions is common in both Hindi and English language sections. This particular section will consist of reading comprehension, fill in the blanks, correct arrangement of sentences of a paragraph, vocabulary-finding closest meaning of words, error spotting in sentences, etc.
The questions here would be related to the world of banking and finance. Your preparation for this section should cover recent happenings and announcements related to the above, monetary policy, economic survey, budget announcements, the role of the Reserve Bank of India and other regulators (Securities and Exchange Board of India, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority, etc.), issues before banks (nonperforming assets, mergers between banks), BASEL regulations, etc.
Quantity means numbers and in this section, candidates will require to find the desired answer on the basis of numbers given in the question. Learning and refreshing the concepts of approximation, simple and compound interest, percentages, averages, area, radius and perimeter, ratio and proportion, etc. will be useful. Questions may relate to problems on ages, boats, and streams, profit/loss, mixture, time and work, filling of the tank, number series, mensuration, etc.
This part will check how you make sense of data, study the pattern, and draw conclusions. Data may come in the form of a bar graph, pie chart, or table. Based on the given statistics, the candidate will be required to find out averages, expected sales, etc. for a particular period. Solving this section is relatively easy as you have to apply simple calculations for adding, subtracting, finding the average, etc. You should not worry about the length of the questions. Just focus on those parts which matter for finding the solution.
In this section, questions from the specialized area like law, information technology; as the case may be, will be asked. You need to go through important theories, concepts, and principles related to the subject. Go through definitions and recent developments. Your textbooks may be used as reference guides.