As political parties continue to hit out at the government for making marks in English count in the Civil Services Examination, there is evidence that the new rule might protect students not well versed in English rather than harm their prospects.
Key UPA ally DMK on Tuesday joined a growing list of critics of the changes to the civil services examination, insisting that these would affect rural aspirants.
Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had earlier red-flagged the changes, claiming that adding marks obtained in English to the final score of the candidates would affect "future prospects of aspirants from rural and tribal areas".
The previous exam pattern required candidates - who cleared the preliminary exams - to qualify in two papers at the CSE (Mains) exam: a regional language and English language paper.
In its new form, UPSC has removed the two qualifying papers. Instead, it requires candidates to take a compulsory English mini-paper of 100 marks. Marks obtained in this paper would be counted.
"But 100 marks - out of a total 2075 marks - means the class Xth standard level comprehension and Précis English paper would just have a weightage of just 4.8%," a government official told HT.
Besides, the change ensures that candidates who do not perform well in the English paper are not out rightly disqualified.
The UPSC had failed 819 candidates at the Mains examination in 2010 because they did not get the minimum prescribed marks in the English paper. In 2011, UPSC had similarly failed 351 candidates. Still worse, they were not even told by UPSC how much candidates need to score in the qualifying papers.
"Also remember that it is only candidates who clear the preliminary exam - where they are also tested for their knowledge of English - who will take the CSE Mains exam," he added, emphasising that the change raises the transparency bar in the otherwise opaque UPSC.