The UPSC language barrier
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At the heart of the controversy over the Union Public Service Commission's civil services examination — which is now set to go back to its original format — are a set of rules giving new weightage to the English paper, besides setting conditions on candidates seeking to take the test in a language other than English or Hindi. Also, the new rules sought to do away with a language paper, one on a language under the Eighth Schedule.
English is currently only a qualifying paper in the mains, while the new rules sought to make the weighted marks from that paper part of a candidate's overall score. The mains examination would have included writing an essay (in English or Hindi) that carried 200 marks, besides an English comprehension and English précis writing exam for 100 marks.
If a candidate opted to write his papers in a language other than English or Hindi, one of the new rules made it mandatory for him to have studied and cleared that language in his graduate course. Another rule, aimed at "maintaining the quality and standards of examination", said there should be a minimum of 25 candidates opting for a specific language for answering the question papers in that language. "In case there are less than 25 candidates opting for any approved language medium (other than English or Hindi), then those candidates will be required to write their examination either in Hindi or in English only," the UPSC notification about the new format had said.
The UPA government, under pressure from the opposition and its allies, has now decided to keep the new format in abeyance. The preliminary examination for this year is scheduled for May 26.
"I don't think many of those who are opposing the new format have understood it. It is wrong to say that it is anti-vernacular. But the government has buckled under pressure," said a functionary of the Department of Personnel and Training. The DoPT plans to hold discussions with the UPSC to find a way out of the logjam.
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