The Telegraph
Wednesday , August 6 , 2014
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Students bat for English
Hindi belt decries Centre’s UPSC step

Jharkhand may not be a predominantly English-speaking state, but its UPSC aspirants no way support the Centre’s decision to exclude the 20-mark English comprehension test, part of the civil services aptitude test (CSAT), while drawing up the preliminary test merit list.

Though Union minister of state Jitendra Singh, while announcing the decision that is subject to clearance by the UPSC, had said yesterday that the move was being taken to make the prestigious exam “language neutral” so that deserving talents are not left out, the students are seeing it as a bigger threat to the very ethos of a “competitive exam”.

“I am completely shocked by such a knee-jerk reaction from the Union government. It is a politically motivated move that is bound to backfire on the students in the long run,” said Ranchi-based Nancy Sahay, who clocked all-India rank 36 in the UPSC this year.

Agreed civil services aspirant from Daltonganj Sunil Kumar, who is preparing for the difficult exam in Delhi.

“Our Parliament functions in English. Also, it’s a global business language. Being a Bihari, I take pride in my mother tongue and also Hindi, which is the national language. But if I am aiming to become an IAS/IPS, I should have basic knowledge of English,” he pointed out.

States like Jharkhand, neighbouring Bihar and Uttar Pradesh aren’t English-speaking belts, but every year students from these regions crack most of the competitive exams, including UPSC.

“It doesn’t matter whether you are from a convent background or not. On such a big stage when you aspire to be an IAS/IPS and the like, it is expected that you know basic English of Class X standard. That’s what UPSC was testing in CSAT. What’s wrong in it?” Sahay asked.

She further feared that it would set a wrong precedent for other competitive exams.

“Tomorrow, one would say remove logical reasoning or maths from CAT as they aren’t well-versed in it. Already in UPSC, you have the option of writing in English or Hindi. Even Hindi-medium schools have an English paper.”

Another state-based aspirant Dilip said policy-makers have missed the moot point.

“I have spent my life in Bihar-Jharkhand and studied in a Hindi medium school. I am not against English. But currently, the problem is that English passages are checked via Google translator and at times, the connotation changes, causing loss of marks. This should be addressed,” he said.

But director-cum-owner of Chankaya IAS Academy in Jamshedpur and Amar Classes in Ranchi Amar Kumar Singh welcomed the Centre’s stand.

“I am not asking to scrap CSAT as I firmly believe that mental and mathematically logic-based reasoning is a must for civil service aspirants. However, a language can’t be the basis of judging his/her ability. So, I welcome the Centre’s move. More so because, there is already a separate paper for 300 marks each in English and Hindi,” he said.