Life of Assessor at SSB
I was IO & Deputy President at 17 SSB, Bangalore for 2 years: 2010–11. The experience was unique. Salient features of the experience:
Detached from Regular Services Life
Since at SSB we wore uniform only on the day of the conference, we felt quite out of the regular Services life. It was through the RSI that we were socially connected with the Services officers in the station. There was no movement out for exercises and so on. I did move out on duty a few times:
- To follow up the performance of candidates, who were cleared to attend training but had some adverse remarks in their assessment by an assessor, at IMA, Dehradun and some other cases recommended by the IMA.
- For the reality TV show-”Mission Army-Desh ke Rakshak” by National Geographic.
There is considerable amount of work to be done as regards interviews, more so because my President was also the Commandant & he had several other responsibilities & I had to shoulder the load of more interviews. The work plan was considerably in my hand & I usually did not interview more than 4 candidates at a stretch- before lunch, post lunch & post evening exercise.
SSBs observe no weekly holiday. The lean day was the conference day when I had no interviews in the afternoon.
The nature of the work was “Confidential” hence everything was done in hand writing and all records had to be kept secure by me.
Humans are the most interesting creation of God and knowing them is very interesting.
Psychology is not an absolute science with no definite ‘yes & no’ answers. There are principles which are valid. Interestingly every individual is unique and hence need not necessarily behave in accordance with accepted norms. Thus performing my job was practicing an art knowing well that I can err in judgment.
The power of an assessor is tremendous. The decision of a judge can be appealed against in the high or Supreme Court of India. There is no appeal possible against the judgment of an assessor at SSB!
Play Safe Tendency of Assessors
The assessment of an assessor cannot be reviewed by anyone else but I got feedback about my assessment in the conference when I learned about the assessment of the candidate by the other 2 assessors. In case my assessment had been different from others then I had scope for reviewing my assessment by allocation of conference marks.
Another major feedback of assessment is from the training academies. In case the performance/ behavior of a candidate is found unacceptable then questions are rightly raised against the selectors.
The above two issues make the assessors play safe and they play safe by observing the following philosophy:
“When in doubt, reject!”
This unfortunate tendency prevails in the entire selection system and is very difficult to eradicate. The system understands it and our seniors keep reminding us & even I kept reminding my junior assessors that we are a “Selection Board” and not a “Rejection Board”.
Overall my experience as a selector was one of great learning. I am thankful to the instructors who taught me and my colleagues who guided me. I never knew then that today I will be working in the field of personality development. The experience is proving to be invaluable!