With this year’s Union Public Service Commission examination just a fortnight away and the government deciding to go ahead with its current proposal for CSAT to take out the marks of the English Aptitude Test from the gradation process of this year with a promise that it is willing to review the decision for next year's examination. This not gone down well the any of the political parties and they want to use this golden opportunity to publicise themselves. They do not want to lose this chance of using UPSC examination to fight their language wars.
The Civil Services Examination (CSE) is a nationwide competitive examination in India conducted by the Union Public Service Commission for recruitment to the various Civil Services of the Government of India, including Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS), and Indian Police Service (IPS) among others. Civil Services Aptitude Test is a compulsory part of Civil Services Examination which act as a screening test to Civil Services Main examination Conducted annually by Union Public Service Commission of India and is also known as Civil Services Preliminary Examination. The examination is one of the toughest examinations in the world with success rate of 0.1%-0.3% with more than 500,000 applicants. It is conducted in two phases - the Preliminary examination, consisting of two objective-type papers General Studies and Aptitude Test, and the Main examination, consisting of nine papers of conventional essay type followed by the Personality Test Interview. The entire process from the notification of the Preliminary examination to declaration of the final results takes roughly one year.
From 2011 onwards the pattern for the Preliminary examination which is now popularly known as the Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) which intends to focus on analytical abilities and understanding rather than the ability to memorize was changed. The new pattern included two papers of two hours duration and 200 marks each with multiple choice objective type questions only. While the Paper I tests the candidate's knowledge on current events, history of India and Indian national movement, Indian and World Geography, Indian Polity and governance, Economic and social development, environmental ecology, biodiversity, climate change and general science. The Paper II tested the candidate’s skills in comprehension, interpersonal skills, communication, logical reasoning, analytical ability, decision making, problem solving, basic numeracy, data interpretation, English language comprehension skills and mental ability.
Recently the government has called an all-party meet on the UPS CSAT issue as they are seeing a stiff opposition to the Centre's stand on it. On Wednesday members of some of the political parties even walked out of the Rajya Sabha opposing the government's stand on UPSC. With the opposition wanting clarity on the government's stand after it announced that the English Aptitude test marks will not count some parties want the aptitude test be scrapped completely while others wanting the exam be conducted in all regional languages. BJP is accusing the previous UPA government for the issue. After a lot of discussions the BJP had come to a decision but other parties are not happy with what they are planning to do.
The UPSC aspirants are expressing their displeasure as they are apprehensive that the exam pattern if it will be easy for students from commerce and science students but humanities background people will find it difficult after the government announced that a 20-mark English section in the CSAT paper will not be included for grades or merit. While the UPSC aspirants were planning to widen their protest the government has deployed heavy security in Mukherjee Nagar and nearby areas like Nehru Vihar, Gandhi Vihar, Indra Vihar and Outram Lines which is restricting around 20,000 UPSC aspirants from joining the protest
The UPSC aspirants who are protesting against the government’s decision have found political support from regional parties like Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Janata Dal (U) and DMK. All these parties are voicing their opinion and are against the differences shown by the Union Public Service Commission towards Hindi and regional languages.
While SP and BSP demanded that an all-party meeting should be called to discuss and resolve the matter as it the question of fate of lakhs of aspirants who will be appearing the exam this year. On the other hand AIADMK leader M Thambidurai made a strong request in Lok Sabha that the UPSC exam should be conducted in all regional languages in advantage of students from all over the country. Also AIADMK’s V Maitreyan complained that people from South are always given second class treatment for their language problem.
JDU’s Sharad Yadav also questioned to the government’s clarification that it was a UPSC decision. He feels that the numbers of the students who are successful in the exams are falling for Hindi language students. Same is the case with students from Tamil, Telugu and other languages. However the success rate of students with English has gone up drastically compared to previous years
BSP chief Mayawati has to say that the government is not at all worried about the students future. Ram Vilas Paswan of the Lok Janshakti Party's also supports the aspirants and says that his party was always in favour of Hindi language supremacy over languages like English.
The Rajya Sabha proceedings were stopped twice as the SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav raised the issue in the Lok Sabha.
"The solution is to give equal weightage for paper 1 and paper 2 that will take care of the problem. Secondly, taking away English will be disadvantageous to all non-Hindi speaking languages," Congress leader Jesudasu Seelam said.
Even though as BJP had promised before election that they will scrap CSAT and now decided English language comprehension skills not be included in the merit list but students say their demands still remain "unfulfilled as they wanted the entire CSAT section to be removed completely.
One question that each aspirant has to ask himself is can we have a civil servant without a basic understanding of maths, logical reasoning, data interpretation and English. The whole idea why CSAT was introduced was to the extent of such basic understanding. It assesses the candidate's ability to respond quickly on the basis of strong fundamentals as multiple choice aptitude questions are often about crossing off the wrong answer choices. With each political party supporting their own regional language they want to utilize this opportunity for their advantage. The students should realize that the political parties are just seeing this as another oppurtunity to stand against the government and fight their own war using the CSAT as their means.