By Shashank Saurav:
The groundbreaking announcement of the change in UPSC examination pattern was met with shock, joy and disappointment. Although the prototype is yet to get the final nod, it is plausible to assume that this model will be adopted without further modifications.
The Mains exam will remain as it was. The only adjustment might be the removal of certain subjects which are not relevant to the civil services. However the Prelims examination has undergone a major overhaul. The candidates are supposed to write a General studies paper (1st one) which will comprise questions from diverse topics that include current affairs, economics, Indian history, world geography etc. Surprisingly this is not the supposed twist. The introduction of an objective paper (2nd one) based on testing the English language understanding, numerical abilities and intellectual skills of the examinee is the one that gave many an aspirant jitters. This will also test candidates on stuff like mental ability, communication skills, decision making, data interpretation and comprehension skills.
The main objection to this proposal was the weightage being given to English. The language is not a bare necessity for public administration. Besides it will also significantly hinder the prospects of rural aspirants making it to the mains, including those who aren’t well adept with English, the funniest language there is. Putting a rest to the trepidations of the candidates, the committee added that the questions will be pretty basic simply meant to test comprehension skills (Class X level) of an examinee.
The new examination pattern has both its merits and demerits. Judging candidates on the basis of their mental ability and reasoning is a brilliant step. So far the UPSC exam was designed such that only the hard working and most efficient lot was short listed. Cracking the exam was solely based on the efforts that you put whether in mugging or practicing questions. That is why even engineers preferred to choose subjects like psychology, political science, economics, geography rather than what they had studied during their graduation.
With the inclusion of an aptitude test not only will the UPSC get the most laborious and the hardest working students, it will also be able to select the lot which is reasonably bright. The job of an IAS or an IPS officer simply does not require you to give your 100%, you must also be able to identify the area in which you can give your 100%. It is essential that the bureaucrats are capable of thinking out of the box. They should not only carry out their duty diligently but also understand the implications of their actions.
In fact the pattern of the 1st paper is also appreciable. The inclusion of current events and mixing it with the Indian history, political system, panchayati raj, public policy is laudable. This checks the candidate’s awareness, interest in Indian politics and society as well as his aptitude in public administration areas.
Personally, I feel the introduction of English to test the aspirants is the right step. After all the IAS and especially IFS officers are the representatives of the country. English is the international language and if you are well-versed with it, you can represent the country at any level. Hence the officer should not only have a good understanding of English but also appropriate writing and speaking skills. Besides the examinee is only tested in prelims in English, so it’s no big deal. In order to occupy such a powerful position, the person must be able to pass an examination based on 10th level English.
However everyone is entitled to their opinion. So do drop a word on the pros/cons of the new pattern.