ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Needless Controversy over UPSC Exams

The controversy over the new format for the UPSC exams missed the point.

The new pattern of the Union Public Service Commission’s (UPSC) civil services examination has raised – what would appear to be – an unnecessary controversy. The selection of officers to the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), the Indian Police Service (IPS), the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) and other branches of the top bureaucracy is through these exams. Within a little over 20 days of announcing the new system, the notification was withdrawn following an outcry over the changes. In the proposed new system, candidates were given the option of answering all the question papers barring English comprehension and précis writing in English or Hindi. However, if a candidate had graduated in any one of the scheduled 21 regional languages, she or he could write the examination in that language, on condition that at least 25 candidates wanted to answer in that language. If the number fell short of 25, the exam would have to be written in either English or Hindi.

Critics pointed out that not only would the mandatory 100-marks English paper discriminate against the non-English medium educated, but as the choice of writing was between English and Hindi, it sidelined the regional languages. Also, while the Hindi-speaking could answer in that language, those from other languages would be forced to answer in English. Besides, as the marks of the English paper would now be counted in the merit listing (unlike earlier) it would advantage those coming from English medium schools and urban areas. They also argued that it was unfair to insist that candidates could only answer in the language if they had graduated in it because many study up to the 12th standard in non-English languages and then graduate in English in which they are not really proficient. What if these candidates want to answer in the language in which they had studied up to the 12th? Further, the condition that the minimum number of candidates must be at least 25 was penalising those who wanted to answer in a language that did not have the requisite takers.

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