7:05 am - Sunday January 20, 2019

Won’t allow injustice to UPSC students: govt.

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With Union Public Service Commission examination candidates intensifying their agitation against the C-SAT (Aptitude Test) paper in English, the government assured Parliament on Friday that it would not allow any injustice to any group of students on the basis of language.

“We do not wish to link language with skill,” Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Jitendra Singh told the Rajya Sabha.

He, however, declined to intervene for now to cancel the admit cards issued for this year’s examination saying the procedure was as per the UPSC’s calendar. “The issuance of admit cards by the UPSC is not a government decision and is not going to influence our further course of action,” he said.

The House was adjourned twice on the issue as members demanded a statement from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In the Lok Sabha, Samajwadi Party, Janata Dal (United) and Rashtriya Janata Dal members stormed into the well alleging discrimination against Hindi and other languages.

Speaker Sumitra Mahajan turned down the demand for suspension of question hour and for a statement by the Home Minister since one had already been made last week on the issue.

Seeking the cooperation of all parties to appeal to the candidates to call off their agitation, Mr. Singh said the problem was not of the NDA government’s making and it was trying to find a solution.

He said the former UPA government had introduced aptitude test papers in English in the preliminary examination in 2010. To make it language-neutral, they were “précis, objective type, 10th Standard papers” more to evaluate a candidate’s comprehension and working knowledge of English rather than essay-writing. “Why nobody objected then, I don’t know,” he said.

The matter came to public attention after a PIL was filed in 2012 and on the High Court’s order, the UPA government set up a three-member committee to look into the issue. The panel could not complete its report in one month and was given a three-month extension. In the meantime, the government changed and the NDA came to power.

Mr. Singh said the committee was still not ready with its report and sought further extension from the new regime. “Today, we have asked the panel to give its report in one week. On that basis we will decide further course of action.”

Earlier, most members demanded that the admit card issued online on Thursday be cancelled immediately. JD(U) president Sharad Yadav read out statistics to show how participation in civil services examination of students with Hindi, Tamil, Kannada and Telugu as their mother tongue had declined while that of English students had “doubled” since 2008.

The MPs wanted the candidates be allowed to take the preliminary examination aptitude test in regional languages as well. The AIADMK’s Madhukaruppan asked the government to make sure that “other language” candidates were not filtered at the preliminary stage. “Such a system helps only the creamy layer fluent in Hindi and English,” said Kanimozhi of the DMK.

CPI member D. Raja wanted the UPSC notification for admit cards reconsidered and withdrawn. “The languages in the Eighth Schedule should be allowed,” he said.

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