As civil service aspirants escalated their protest against the Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) in the UPSC examination, alleging that it gives an unfair advantage to English-speaking students, the NDA government on Friday said it will “not equate language with skill” and allow any “injustice” to students on the basis of language in the examinations. It said it has sought a report within a week from the three-member panel looking into the issue.
This assurance came from Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh in the Rajya Sabha after members expressed concern over the agitation by UPSC aspirants who have been demanding cancellation of the examinations scheduled on August 24.
Members across the political spectrum urged the government to stop issuing of admit cards for the exam, which started on Thursday and sparked the latest round of agitation in Delhi.
Allaying apprehensions on the issue, Singh said, “The cards have not been issued by us, but by the UPSC which follows a calendar. The issue of admit cards is not going to influence the further course of action,” he said.
“The government is not in favour of any injustice to students on the basis of language,” Singh told the House.
“I assure you that within one week we have sought the report of the committee…Today I have again told the committee to give the report within one week. As the report comes, further action will follow,” he said.
Earlier in the day, the Opposition created a ruckus in both Houses over the issue. The Rajya Sabha was adjourned twice during Question Hour following the Opposition’s demand for a clarification by none other than the Prime Minister or the Leader of the House.
The matter figured in the Lok Sabha too although it did not lead to any adjournment.
“It should not sound that this is our creation,” Jitendra Singh said, adding that the matter came up after a PIL and the UPA government took cognizance of the issue only after directions from a High Court judge in 2011.
He said the government is aware of what is happening and is looking at the issue with all seriousness. “We should appeal to children that they should not put themselves in any physical trouble. We are looking at their problem with all seriousness,” he said.
Earlier, members cutting across party lines, including some from the ruling BJP, raised concerns over falling success rate of language students in the UPSC exams.
JD(U)’s Sharad Yadav said discrimination is happening against language students in the UPSC exams and the number of those from Tamil, Telugu, Hindi and other languages successful in the exams was going down drastically while those with English have almost doubled. “Issuance of online admit cards should be immediately withdrawn. When will the committee report come? The process of exams have already begun,” he said.
In the Rajya Sabha, former minister M S Gill of the Congress said there are 22 recognised languages in the country with no language prevalent everywhere. “The question is how do you run the work of the Government of India,” he said wondering whether an exam can be conducted in 500 languages and people knowing 500 recognised will sit on the interview board.
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