#UPSC Row: The Quick Fix Is A Let Down

The government has decided not to add marks of English language skill test for merit or grading in the preliminary exam of civil services. With this, the protesters have …

The government has decided not to add marks of English language skill test for merit or grading in the preliminary exam of civil services. With this, the protestors have heightened their agitation for scrapping the CSAT completely saying that it was not a part of their demand.

Till now, we have been hearing from the agitators that they wanted the English-language paper (which assumes Class X comprehension) made less difficult, that it was a big hindrance in front of the students who were from Hindi-medium, and that it was an impediment in the name of level-playing field for the students.

Also they wanted the interview that follows to be allowed in other languages.

But now, the whole course has changed. Now the protestors want CSAT to be scrapped, and no less.

Trying to make sense of the agitation, we have already seen that there are few doubts about the agitators and their demands. First of all, why didn’t they protest when UPA government was implementing the changes in the pattern of prelims of civil services exam? Second, where were they till now? Why did their senses wake up at the 11th hour only?

Well, according to The Telegraph, the real issue is completely different and the agitation against English is only there to mask it. It quotes an unnamed candidate: “The agitators find it hard to answer the questions on mathematics, reasoning and decision-making but are embarrassed to spell this out, so they are highlighting the alleged language bias,” the candidate said. “The English-language tests are of Class X standards which any graduate should be able to handle.”

This statement makes sense when we see it along with the statement made by Pawan Pandey, convener of the Rashtriya Adhikar Manch: “This is cheating. We never demanded the government tweak the CSAT; we want it scrapped.”

The government decision has made the matter worse. Even if the marks will not be added for grading, they will certainly be required to get minimum qualifying marks in the subject. Those who were against it aren’t satisfied; and for those who wanted it will be miffed as it is a matter of 22 marks.

Perhaps the government should now understand who wants to be an IAS officer and why.

An Outlook survey had found out that compared to the 70s when two out of three civil service recruits were from cities, now less than two out of ten are born in metros or state capitals.

“The children of IAS officers do not want their fathers’ jobs,” ex IAS officer Wajahat Habibullah, tells Outlook, “But there is an influx of the children of those who worked in the lower ranks of government service—like head constables, private secretaries and clerks—for whom the IAS was the ultimate.”

And Economic Times sheds light on why they do not want to be tested on English: They want “simply to enter the civil services for a steady job for life, something that many of us and our kids have long moved beyond and therefore find difficult to comprehend.”

Now is the time when UPSC and the government sit together and find a solution even if it means postponing the examination or making a major overhaul. A quick fix like this won’t do – neither for the upcoming exam, nor for later ones.

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