The Telegraph
Friday , August 8 , 2014
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Reasoning worry for candidates

Patna, Aug. 7: English might have been one of their grouses, but aspirants here said the reasoning portion of civil services aptitude test (CSAT) paper in the UPSC prelims was a major worry.

Those from the science background had no issues with it, but aspirants having humanities background said the reasoning portion, too, should be done away with to offer a level playing ground to students of all streams.

Instead of scrapping the 200-marks CSAT, the Union government decided to only keep the English comprehension test (20 marks) out of the merit list’s reckoning.

The only concession the Centre gave the protesters was to allow those who had taken the 2011 exam — the year aptitude tests were introduced — another shot next year, even if they have exhausted their six chances or crossed the 32-year age limit. However, neither decision can be implemented unless cleared by the Union Public Service Commission, which conducts the examinations.

Animesh Kumar Mishra, a student of humanities and UPSC aspirant from Patna, suggested scrapping of CSAT altogether. “The test does not favour students with humanities background. It is very difficult for them to handle mathematics and reasoning where students with science background get an edge. I also have objection to the English portion of CSAT. Students from Hindi background find the English comprehension questions tough to solve. So, I feel, the CSAT paper should be dropped,” Mishra said.

Mishra’s batchmate, Ajay Kumar, who comes from a science background, however, differed with him. He said only the English section should be scrapped and not the full CSAT paper.

“Mathematics and reasoning questions should be continued in the CSAT paper. These help judge the candidate’s analytical ability and whether or not the candidate can visualise things in a scientific manner, an important aspect for judging candidates for such an important examination. But English questions should be totally dropped from the paper. Why do we need to promote a foreign language in our county? The most reputed examination of our country (UPSC examination) judges whether we are good in a particular foreign language. This is wrong,” said Ajay.

He had declined a junior engineer’s post offered by Bihar State Power Holding Company this year to prepare for civil services.

Ajay said most UPSC aspirants from Bihar find the English section tough and he was no different, as he had studied in a Hindi medium school all his life.

Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar, another UPSC aspirant with a science background, echoed him.

“As far as mathematics and reasoning are concerned, it is obvious, students with humanities background would face difficulties. So they should reduce the number of such questions. But English questions need to be dropped wholly as most UPSC aspirants coming from states in the Hindi belt are not comfortable in English. Most UPSC aspirants have a good command over other subjects. So, why should they suffer for not having command over one language,” said Vidyasagar, who left his engineer’s job with Delhi-based Vedanta company last year.

Those mentoring UPSC aspirants had a different take on CSAT.

Anand Raj, a geography teacher associated with a UPSC coaching centre on Ashok Rajpath, said: “The CSAT paper should be left as it is. Knowledge of English and mathematics is necessary for UPSC candidates as they are aspiring for a coveted service. But, there should be a little change in the format. It would be easier if the question paper were in Hindi with the English version avai- lable in the anuvad (translation) section.”

Another student cited how “steel plant” was translated as “loheka paudha” in the Hindi version of the paper. “This confuses Hindi-speaking students and they end up giving wrong answers,” Raj said.

Rakesh Ranjan, the managing director of a city-based coaching centre for UPSC aspirants, said: “The earlier format of UPSC examination, when the CSAT paper had not been introduced, was much better. Were we not producing good IAS officers with the earlier format? Then what was the need to introduce CSAT paper? I don’t understand.”

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