UPSC protest: Do the students really have an aptitude to serve the nation?

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In the last few weeks scores of so-called Civil Service aspirants, some political groups and activists have intensified protest in the national capital demanding scrapping of Civil Services Aptitude Test(CSAT) as according to them the new format has created a condition of partiality for the candidates from Hindi medium and non-science background.

Several protesters have clashed with the police and the cops had to resort to lathi charge and water cannons to control lawlessness. In fact, according to news reports an aspirant even tried to immolate himself in Mukherjee Nagar area of Delhi but was saved by a police control room(PCR) van patrolling in the area.

Such lawlessness created by these aspirants only make me question, do these students really have an aptitude to serve the nation and what will happen even if these students clear the UPSC exam?

What is CSAT?

CSAT or Civil Services Aptitude Test is a compulsory part of Civil Services Examination conducted by UPSC annually. 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 X level).

Why they want CSAT to be scrapped?

According to some aspirants the English language medium makes difficult for students coming from Hindi medium.

"We have studied in Hindi medium schools and it is difficult to be on a par with English medium students. The translated version in Hindi is pathetic, making it difficult for us," said an aspirant from Gorakhpur who was protesting on Friday.

CSAT is set in English and they are translated to Hindi using Google translator

According to the protesting students, the pattern of CSAT-II puts students from Hindi medium and non-mathematical backgrounds at a disadvantage.

"With CSAT, students from Hindi and regional language medium feel that those who are from English medium have a natural advantage. The question papers are set in English and they are translated to Hindi using Google translator. This is creating problems for students since the translations are not accurate. And so we are not able to interpret it in a proper way. This is the biggest contention. Second, there is a lot of focus on mathematics and aptitude in CSAT-II and this gives students from science backgrounds an undue advantage," says Praveen, a UPSC aspirant.

The civil services examination is conducted in three stages -- preliminary, mains, and interview. There are two compulsory papers of 200 marks each in the preliminary examination. This is also known as CSAT I and CSAT II.

What is wrong in learning English?

The big question arises in my mind seeing these protestors is that 'what is wrong in learning English'. What if a civil servant is recruited for Indian Foreign Service, as a diplomat to a foreign nation. How can one manage without English?

Some of the students coming from poor background who studied in Hindi medium may be right in protesting but what is wrong in learning English which can even help them to serve better. Hindi is no doubt our mother tongue but English is equally important for the development of India and to be labeled as a globalized nation. The students preparing for one the toughest exam in the country, can they not afford to work hard to learn English which can make them even a better civil servant.

Does these students really have an aptitude to be a civil servant?

For a civil servant aspirant it is very important to have the right attitude and aptitude. No matter how genius and well read these students are, spreading lawlessness and anarchy in the capital in no way makes them a good IAS, IPS, IFS officers.

Self-immolation, burning of buses, lawlessness...What will happen even these students clear UPSC, what kind of civil servants they will become?

Even if students are able to score in examinations, it does not guarantee that a person can do justice to his or her chosen or allotted career. It is time that we need hard working, disciplined, dedicated civil servants which can only take this developing nation to a greater peak.

Government's stand

The NDA Government on Friday made it clear that it will wait for the report of the three-member panel before taking any decision on the Civil Services examination pattern of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). The Government is expected to clear its stand within a week.

Minister for State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions Dr Jitendra Singh urged the protesting aspirants to be patient for at least one more week. He added that the Government was looking into the matter and come up with an amicable solution.

"The Government sympathises with the aspirants and it should be clear that under no circumstance will we tolerate injustice on the basis of language. The Government and the Prime Minister are more concerned than the agitating students and are trying to find a satisfactory solution," Jitendra Singh said.

"The UPSC has already issued admit cards. In the next three days the situation will become worrisome. The Government cannot walk on two separate paths," JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav said while leading the attack on the Government in Rajya Sabha.

Is there a politicization of the protest

Many political groups and activists have also joined the protest to score their brownie points without realising how sensitive the issue is.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has also got involved along with other small parties condemning the lathi charge by police. "A probe must immediately be ordered on the police brutality on students, including girls, on Thursday night in and around Mukherjee Nagar and on Friday near Rail Bhawan.

"Immediate action must be taken against the police officials clearly seen in the video footage and photographs, brutally beating up students. The government should probe why Metro stations are shut down whenever there is any protest in central Delhi. Who authorises the Metro shutdown?"the AAP said in a statement.

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