By Sidhant Srivastava
Edited by Sanchita malhotra, Associate Editor, The Indian Economist
The pattern of UPSC’s preliminary test has triggered widespread protest with the Civil Services aspirants educated in Hindi medium terming it biased in favor of aspirants educated in English medium.
Till 2010, the pattern for preliminary test comprised of two papers – optional paper and general studies. From 2011, CSAT was introduced which included two compulsory papers: CSAT-I and CSAT-II.
CSAT-II includes questions on quantitative analysis, logical reasoning and English language comprehension. The protestors are saying that the new pattern is preventing them from qualifying for the next stage of the UPSC examination process.
The aspirants with Hindi and non-Mathematics background feel that the syllabus for the CSAT has been designed on the basis of the Common Admissions Test (CAT) for the MBA programs. This has led to decline in the number of students from non-English and non-Mathematics background applying for UPSC examination.
The situation is quite similar to that in the US where the SAT, which is a standardized test widely used for college admissions, is allegedly blamed to favor the whites over the blacks.
Besides these issues, a major anomaly has been detected in the Hindi version of the question paper. The Hindi questions are being generated using Google translator, which has naturally led to a lot of confusion. The students say that they are being asked to answer the questions which are exact translation from English to Hindi, and hence Hindi questions often make no sense. For instance, it was reported that in Hindi paper, translation for the term Steel plant was “Steel Ka Paudha”. This is nothing but mockery of both the Hindi students and the language.
Buckling under pressure of street protests, government announced that English marks in CSAT-II will not be included for gradation or merit in the civil services preliminary examination, but the protesters were still not satisfied and demanded scrapping of the aptitude test.
The government announcement in an attempt to mollify those agitating against giving prominence to English and weightage to those with engineering and management background was made in Parliament after opposition parties in both the Houses created an uproar over the issue.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who returned after two-day trip to Nepal, met with senior ministers Rajnath Singh (Home), Arun Jaitley (Finance) and Jitendra Singh (MoS, Personnel) and got a briefing on the issue and the latest developments related to it.
The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) will issue a notification to reflect the changes announced by the government, which the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) will implement.
“Government is of the opinion that in the civil services preliminary examination, Paper-II, the marks of the question section on ‘English Language comprehension skills’ should not be included for gradation or merit,” Singh said, seeking to mollify the agitating candidates.
In a brief statement, Singh said, “Candidates, who appeared in civil services examination 2011, may be given one more attempt in 2015.”
Parliament has witnessed repeated uproar and several adjournments over the issue.
Not satisfied with the changes announced by the government in the UPSC exam, scores of civil services aspirants vowed to continue their fight for “complete scrapping” of the CSAT paper and decided to shift their agitation to Jantar Mantar in central Delhi.
The civil services aspirants, who had been protesting against the CSAT format in Mukherjee Nagar of north Delhi for the past entire month, are now holding protest at Jantar Mantar.
“We are not satisfied with minister of state for personnel Jitendra Singh’s speech in Lok Sabha regarding CSAT. We demand complete scrapping of CSAT. We have decided to continue our fight from Jantar Mantar,” Pawan, an UPSC aspirant who has been leading the protest, said.
Sidhant graduated from IIT and discovered his creative bent of mind towards writing after having a near death accident, he had never thought of taking his writing to a professional level. He started blogging just last year, but got an amazing response to his blogs (http://ihavenothingelseto.blogspot.in), he then joined a fashion and lifestyle magazine as the sub editor. He is more than happy to contribute insightful articles on diversified topics to The Indian Economist.