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UPSC row

29 Jul. 2014 11:54 PM IST

With hundreds of aspirants agitating against UPSC preliminary exam paper, the issue has turned into a full-blown political crisis for the Modi government even as the UPSC aspirants are stepping up their protests and opposition parties raising the issue in Parliament. The issue has taken an ugly turn when it was being diverted to the linguistic fight. The language of politics was attested when Akhilesh Yadav, chief minister of UP and also Lalu Prasad’s son both wrote to prime minister Narendra Modi urging him to intervene on behalf of candidates demanding scrapping of Civil Service Aptitude Test(CSAT) . The protesting candidates also met with Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, who also assured them of his support. The Previously, the UPSC preliminary test comprised a General Studies paper and an optional paper. In 2011, this pattern was replaced by CSAT which included two compulsory papers: CSAT-I and CSAT-II. The structure of the CSAT is the main bone of contention, which aspirants feel is biased towards technical and management students and it should be scrapped. The structure of the exam was changed in 2011 and since then the aspirants from Humanities and Hindi belt are protesting against it. The CSAT comprises of questions based on communication skill, logical reasoning and analytical ability, decision making and problem solving, general mental ability, basic numeracy, data interpretation and English comprehension. The paper is borrowed from Combined Aptitude Test which tests the managerial aptitude and not the administrative aptitude. The reasoning questions are also not based on the administrative ones. Another issue is of English to Hindi translation. There is a compulsory English comprehension component which automatically puts Hindi medium students at a disadvantage. According to media reports, the questions in English are translated in Hindi through Google translator which gives the literal meaning of the word. For example the word steel plant was translated into ‘Loohe Ka Paudha’.Such Hindi translations have stumped candidates from Hindi speaking states. The candidates demanded that CSAT - supposed to be conducted in English - should be scrapped as it is discriminatory and keeps Hindi medium students from getting selected. Though the government had appointed a three-member committee to look into the controversy, aspirants refused to budge unless the UPSC changed the examination pattern. With the inclusion of questions on quantitative analysis, logical reasoning and English language comprehension in CSAT-II, the protesters say, representation of students from Hindi medium and social sciences backgrounds in UPSC has taken a big hit. The students argue that the questions asked in language comprehension skills are asked in English and no Hindi translations are provided. They want this to be changed. Even if the translation problem is fixed, say students, the English bias will remain because of the compulsory English comprehension component. Protests have turned violent when candidates clashed with police in New Delhi on Thursday and which continued to Friday. The clashes took place when police prevented the protestors from marching to parliament. With the political parties now jumping into the fray and students showing no signs of relenting, the UPSC crisis seems to be far from over for the Modi government.

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