In yet another first, the IAF successfully conducted its first online selection test for airmen from 3-6 May 2018. Taking forward the Digital India Initiative of the Government of India, the first ever Scheduled Test for Airmen Recruitment (STAR) was conducted successfully through computer based online tests in collaboration with Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC) Pune, a Government of India organisation functioning under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. This is the first instance of any of the three services undertaking selection tests online. This makes it easier for candidates across the country to appear for selection accommodating a wider choice of candidates, without having to apply an early filtration necessary in the earlier selection process.
A total of 409169 candidates had registered for the online STAR examination for Airmen. The online examination was successfully conducted at 439 centres spread over 102 cities across the country. This included over 100 centres in the North Eastern states, J&K and states which have limited representation in the IAF. Over 80 per cent of the candidates were allotted centres of their first choice. 320678 candidates (78.37 per cent) out of those who had registered appeared for the online test.
In the earlier manual pattern of tests, despite the IAF receiving over 4 lakh applications, owing to the limitations of testing capacity at the Airmen Selection Centres, only 80000 to 1 lakh candidates could be called to undergo the written test. Candidates were therefore screened out based on their Class 12 marks, thus denying opportunity to otherwise eligible candidates. In the online test format, all eligible candidates applying for STAR would be tested at examination centres closest to their place of residence. This would imply a near eight fold increase in the number of candidates who would be tested annually. The IAF stands to gain from the larger pool of candidates to choose from, while offering a level playing field to all eligible candidates.
The initiative is part of the Air Headquarters policy to reach out to the best talent to man and service the technology intensive platforms that equip the IAF. Apart from increased transparency and cost reduction, the initiative will help the IAF reach out to the youth in remote corners of the country and help them participate in the selection. Being the first of its kind initiative, the conduct of the examination was closely monitored by the highest echelons of Air Headquarters and Command Headquarters. Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Chief of the Air Staff complimented the team involved in planning and executing the online tests in collaboration with CDAC, in ensuring that the entire process was executed without any glitch. It is a major milestone that would set a new benchmark for providing a fair opportunity to deserving youth from the remote corners of the country to join the IAF.