UPSC to leave out English marks, students continue protests
Posted on Aug 05 2014 | IANS
New Delhi, Aug 4 : Bowing to pressure from protesting civil service aspirants, the government Monday said the marks in English language comprehension skills of the UPSC aptitude test will not be included in the merit list. But students said their demands still remain "unfulfilled".
Minister of State in Prime Minister's Office Jitendra Singh said in parliament: "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 in gradation or merit."
The minister also announced that candidates who appeared in Civil Services Examination 2011 may be allowed one more attempt in 2015.
However, protesting civil service aspirants were not satisfied with the government's statement. They said they wanted the Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) to be done away with altogether.
"The government has studied the matter very deeply and tried to handle it sensitively," Jitendra Singh told both houses of parliament.
He first read out a written statement in the Lok Sabha and later in the Rajya Sabha.
But the matter rocked the Rajya Sabha where opposition members from non-Hindi speaking region raised questions about the government's announcement.
Noisy protests were seen inside the house, leading to several adjournments.
"Students from south India may be understanding English better than Hindi. What about them," said Vayalar Ravi of the Congress, and was joined by other members from non-Hindi speaking states.
However, Singh clarified: "We have made it language neutral."
But members were not ready to listen.
"The non-Hindi speaking students have been facing bias for very long," said Kanimozhi of the DMK.
In response, Jitendra Singh said all languages in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution are treated equally and that status remains unchanged.
The agitating students also slammed the government.
Students have been protesting for the past two weeks, asking the government to scrap the CSAT and calling it "discriminatory" against those with a Hindi and humanities background.
"We were assured that the CSAT will be done away with, but the minister's statement talks nothing about that. Instead, they have cheated us by deciding to not consider marks for English comprehension," Subhankar Vats, a civil service aspirant, told IANS.
Vats explained that the comprehension, which is a part of paper II of preliminary examination, consists of four passages, out of which two are easy with no translation, while the other two are difficult.
He said the students feel "cheated" by the government for not heeding to their demand.
The agitating students said they will resume their protest and will further intensify it till their demands are met. They also demanded the postponement of the preliminary exam scheduled for Aug 24.
"The comprehensions the government has decided to not consider are the easy ones in which most of us score," added Vats.
The preliminary examination is divided into two sections - General Studies (Paper I) and CSAT (Paper II) and both papers are of 200 marks each.
Supportive of the government's decision, Janata Dal-United spokesperson K.C. Tyagi said: "We support the decision of the government...This is the result of the struggle of protesting students all over. The government had to bow to their demand."
"At the same time, the government must also listen to the grievances of the non-Hindi speaking students who are still on protest," Tyagi told IANS.
Educationist Kamal Kumar Chenoy said the government, in pursuit of giving importance to Hindi, cannot ignore other regional languages.
"Since these are IAS examinations...English becomes an indispensable subject. But, it is a matter of concern that the number of students with a humanities background qualifying for the exams has reduced," he said.
Agitated students argued that their fight was never about languages, but about the technical errors in the exam.
"Though CSAT is called an aptitude test, there are only six aptitude questions in it and the maximum are mathematics and reasoning. So, that puts students with non-science background at a loss," Ashish, an aspirant, told IANS.
The CSAT-II paper carries questions on comprehension, interpersonal skills including communication skills, logical reasoning and analytical ability, decision-making and problem-solving, general mental ability, basic numeracy and English language comprehension skills (of Class 10 level).