Thursday, Oct 02, 2014

A test for brown sahibs

The students objecting to the CSAT aptitude test are from this new breed of middle-class, aspirational Indians who believe they have a right to participate in governing India.  The students objecting to the CSAT aptitude test are from this new breed of middle-class, aspirational Indians who believe they have a right to participate in governing India.
Written by Tavleen Singh | Posted: July 27, 2014 12:27 am | Updated: July 27, 2014 12:28 am

In 2014, of the 1,122 new recruits for the civil service, only 53 came from those who wrote papers in Indian languages.

It is a shame that it had to come to violence before attention focused on students protesting for days in Delhi against unfairness in the civil service exam. There is unfairness and unfairness of a stupid kind, which makes it worse. This is not just because the aptitude test appears to eliminate students writing tests in Indian languages, but because it could be eliminating good candidates and enlisting ‘educated’ idiots. If you want proof, please remember that Indian bureaucrats are world famous for being obdurate, arrogant and obsolete. And it is often the children of bureaucrats of this genre who today take the civil service examinations in English, so they start with an unfair advantage.

In 2014, of the 1,122 new recruits for the civil service, only 53 came from those who wrote papers in Indian languages, and this is worrying. But a linguistic disadvantage is not the only problem. After Thursday night’s clashes between the police and protesting students in Delhi, I decided to do a little research. I Googled the CSAT syllabus and some question papers.

As I ploughed my way through long, banal passages about ‘creative society’ and ‘inclusive governance’, I realised that, even if translated into Indian languages, the questions would mystify anyone who did not come from St Stephen’s College. No offence to this fine institution, but as I read through the question papers, I visualised the most pompous bores of my acquaintance who always remind me that they went to ‘Stephen’s’. Usually they speak no Indian language (except to their servants) and have no understanding of the hopes and aspirations of the sort of people who voted to bring Narendra Modi to 7, Race Course Road. The students objecting to the CSAT aptitude test are from this new breed of middle-class, aspirational Indians who believe they have a right to participate in governing India.

They are probably intelligent, talented young men and women who would easily be able to answer the CSAT questions if they were asked more intelligibly. Example: Why are Indian forests and rivers ruined? ‘Short-term increases in some ecosystem goods and services have come at the cost of the long-term degradation of others’. If you think that is a convoluted bit of writing, I recommend that you download some CSAT papers and read them. Every passage is written in this kind of long-winded prose.

You may also discover that the reason why India counts among the worst governed countries in the world is because people who become continued…

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