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Reform the UPSC Civil Service Exam format

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Everybody knows about the utility of Civil Services in running a country. An able, efficient and modern civil service force is the new requirement of our times. However, all the adjectives mentioned here are grossly missing in our system. The situation has come to such an extent that government itself is suspending many All-India Services officers in ‘public interest’. This should have, and I guess already has, rung alarm bells for its complete revamp. We are already very late in this regard. The administrative system, along with the recruitment process, should have been revised right after liberalisation of the economy in 1991. As it did not happen, we are now witnessing its deleterious effects in the form of delayed projects, cost overruns, corruption, abuse of power, nepotism, lack of innovation and so on.

Coming directly to the recruitment process, the Government of India formed a committee in August, 2015 for revising the entire pattern of this exam. Unlike numerous previous committees that the government formed, whose recommendations were either ignored or implemented poorly, this one headed by Mr.B.S.Baswan was unique given its composition and wide-ranging Terms Of Reference. It seemed like the government was committed to ‘modernise’ the outdated pattern. Even after receiving the recommendations on August, 2016, the government has not done anything with it till now. Numerous RTI’s have been filed with DoPT, asking it to either make the contents of the report public or say when will it implement the same.

Aspirants who prepare for the exam have been protesting for a long time demanding ‘compensatory attempts’ to appear in the examination once again. Point to be noted here is that one reason, among many,  the government formed this committee was because the previous pattern was discriminatory against Humanities background students and clearly favoured those with technical backgrounds. Other reasons include non-transparency, arbitrary evaluation, delay in completion of exam, lack of technology utilisation in the conduct of exam and a host of other issues raised by the aspirants. Students with non-technical background could not qualify for the exam, and in the process lost their attempts one after the other (DoPT, until 2013 provided 4 attempts to write the exam, now it provides 6, that too after protests).

The silence of the government on this committee’s report has confused many, because aspirants were anticipating some changes in this year’s exam. Such silence raises only two concerns:either the government is not doing anything on the report or is planning something big, maybe an overall administrative reform given the way numerous civil servants have been fired recently. Elections could have prevented the government from taking a decision in this regard. However, only time will tell what actually happens to the report.

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