Explained: What is the UPSC controversy

The Centre on Tuesday asked the UPSC to postpone the preliminary examination slated for August 24.

Written by Raghvendra Rao | New Delhi | Updated: July 16, 2014 9:23 am

Following protests by civil services aspirants who have been demanding the scrapping of Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) calling it discriminatory against Humanities students and those with Hindi background, the Centre Tuesday asked the UPSC to postpone the preliminary examination slated for August 24.

What is the controversy?

* At the heart of the matter is the change of pattern the UPSC introduced in the Civil Services Preliminary Exam starting 2011. Till 2010, the exam used to have two papers — one on general studies and one on an optional subject where aspirants could choose one of 23 listed subjects. This was changed from 2011 onwards, when the UPSC decided to replace the optional subject paper with a paper that tests the aspirants’ aptitude. The syllabus for this paper, protesting aspirants allege, is heavily tilted in favour of those from the Science or, more specifically, Engineering background and is discriminatory against students from Humanities, particularly those who have studied in Hindi-medium.

What is the syllabus for this second paper?
* The second paper in the preliminary exam comprises comprehension, interpersonal skills including communication skills, logical reasoning and analytical ability, decision making and problem solving, general mental ability, basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude, etc — Class X level), data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency, etc — Class X level) and English language comprehension skills (Class X level).

Why are the protesters calling this syllabus discriminatory?

* They feel it favours Science and \Engineering students. Questions related to mathematics, they feel, put students from Humanities at a disadvantage. They have also alleged that English language comprehension skills, which the second paper tests, is discriminatory against students from a Hindi-medium background. The protesters claim that since the changes were introduced in 2011, the number of Humanities students clearing the preliminary exam has fallen drastically, while the number of those with Science/Engineering background has shot up.

How is the government addressing the problem?

* The matter has been raised by several MPs in the ongoing Parliament session. On Tuesday, Union Minister Jitendra Singh said the government was urging the UPSC and the committee constituted to look into the matter to submit its report at the earliest. Singh also said UPSC should consider postponing the date of the exam. “We would write to the UPSC and the committee that has been constituted to submit this report to expedite the process, address their concerns judiciously and sympathetically and not let them (the aspirants) go with a feeling that they have been wronged on account of any bias towards any language… There should be no injustice regarding the language and the government does not support this,” the minister said.

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  1. A
    Jul 18, 2014 at 6:07 am
    Very unfortunate. In a month time to the prelims, we are being confused of the syllabus and pattern of the examination. I belong to Hindi speaking state and will attempt my paper in Hindi language, but should not I bear that much knowledge of English, which will highly be required while serving for the nation.Rather than going for preparation, some are creating problems, this is not good. It was enough that age limit has been increased. What now, should offer of appointment be given in hands without preparation. Too Much.
    1. A
      Amitabh Dutta
      Jul 16, 2014 at 4:02 pm
      this is nobody's fault yet everyone's concern and I am sure protest is not the way for the future civil servants. Its okay to be dissatisfied but its criminal to put all the other students chance at stake. Delay or suspension will only add to the woes of all. There are better ways of urging.
      1. C
        Chandrasekharan K>R.
        Jul 25, 2014 at 1:27 pm
        When this apude test was introduced in 2011,why there was no protests then immediately? Looks like NDA carries the burden of its UPA predecessor. And strange that Congress MPs want a quick solution.
        1. R
          Rohit Seth
          Jul 16, 2014 at 5:09 am
          Today is a black day for all those Indians who prepare very hard for these exams. Bunch of losers will always cry, regardless of what the pattern is. If these guys can't comprehend cl 10th level English questions they should not dream of group A services. Even Chinese and anese governments have started emphasizing on English due to its demand in the world.We simply can't afford to compromise on merit and apude in order to ensure representation of bunch of laid back s who are scared to work hard. Even Modi learnt flawless English, despite having studied from a Gujurati Medium School. You gotta have pion to work hard.
          1. B
            Baba Joshi
            Jul 25, 2014 at 1:38 pm
            If a future civil servant is expected to have knowledge of Mathematics, Science and English of the level of 10th cl , then what is the problem ? The candidates who can not satisfy even this basic requirement should not be allowed to apppear for UPSC exam irrespective of their any type of bachelor or masters degree.
            1. L
              Jul 16, 2014 at 6:38 pm
              This is not fair at all.CSAT is introduced by UPSC to check the mental ability of the aspirants,not to Create any type of bias.If the issue is that CSAT is favouring the students of science back ground then another question should be raised that history,geography, political science,sociology etc all the subjects in GS mains favour the students of arts back ground.We the aspirants of civil service should concentrate on all subjects including CSAT also
              1. N
                Jul 18, 2014 at 12:57 pm
                Is english the basic criteria to be an ias ? As u know language cant be parted from culture.Ifu are going to serve a nation like India it is necessary to be mingule up with inthe culture at gross root level and for that conversation is mustinitially.English can be learned during training for d basic requirement ofservice as it happened earlier. Talent cant be judged on the basis of english andstudy in english medium.The fundamental principle of equality of upsc isviolated by csat process so it should be change immediately.Autonomous doesnt meant to be dictator. upsc should think immediately not to violate its principle as well democracy.
                1. R
                  Jul 16, 2014 at 7:56 pm
                  Aspirants are the most important stakeholders. D P agarwal is an who ignored the most important stakeholders. Major change was introduced in 2013 and no prior notification was given for that . should ias officers become ias officers by studying for 6 months ?why was he in so mcuh hurry ?
                  1. V
                    Vikram Rajapure
                    Jul 16, 2014 at 7:41 am
                    It is extremely unfortunate confusion being created by some of those who do not have apude for Civil Services and do not deserve to be more than clerks. UPSC, under the able leadership of D P Agrawal is making the Civil Services Examination more objective, transparent and fair by removing inbuilt biases existing since long. Too much political interference in the functioning of a consutional body like UPSC will certainly damage the credibility of perhaps the most trustworthy public service commission of this country.
                    1. R
                      Jul 25, 2014 at 9:46 am
                      Though I'm from english medium and science background and can score well in paper 2 but that doesn't change the fact that this paper distorts the final merit.Now we have two papers 1&2, paper 1 is vast and focuses on all aspects of our country which I believe all my fellow students will agree that it is a pre requisite for some one to be into the top bureaucratic setup. Coming back to paper 2,it test one's apude which again should be good considering that after final selection they have to deal with decision making. So trade off should be balance between the two, but if we look at the merit and cut off for last year, many candidates securing 185 in paper 2 clear exam with comparitively lower marks in paper 1.This changes the balance!! Moreover, decision making is checked again in ethics paper and during interview as well.Hence, instead of removing it completely it should be made qualifying at prelims stage!!
                      1. R
                        Radhakrishnan Parameswaran
                        Jul 25, 2014 at 12:17 pm
                        It is really most unfortunate that the Parliamentarians look everything from their own selfish vote bank politics. What this agitation got to do with the present government which has umed office only two months ago. How the past 2/3 years the system was operating and all of a sudden this got erupted. The politics behind this should be investigated. The Congress which has ruined this country in the past will not allow Modi government to function. They should have a "Five Year Plan" to disturb the orderly governance. The future State Elections are very crucial and the Congress should be nailed once and for all.
                        1. V
                          Jul 16, 2014 at 6:22 am
                          Exam syllabus should be about what is needed for efficient duty of a civil servant, rather than what students can do or cant do. Rather students should go for exam that they feel can do, instead of asking to change pattern to suit them. For ex -requirements for being a Doctor can not be reduced on ground that students see problem in the medical exams or books in non-english language are not available as much.Good governance is not going back to old days. That's non governance.
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