Six out of 100 aspiring civil servants don't know their language.
The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) disqualified 705 civil service aspirants in the Civil Services (Mains) Examination for flunking the class X-level language papers in 2011.
Over 11,200 candidates had taken the test the same year. Half of the 705 candidates failed the English paper while another 272 failed in the Hindi paper.
In 2010 too, 1264 of the 11,865 candidates (10.6%) who appeared in the exam had failed the language papers. The commission requires aspirants - who clear the first preliminary exam - to appear in two qualifying papers to test their language skills at the CS (Mains) exam: English and a regional language.
These marks aren't counted for ranking successful candidates. But aspirants who fail the language test are never told how they performed in the 7 other papers: essay, 'general studies' and optional subjects. Only candidates from six northeastern states are exempted from the regional language paper.
Mrunal Patel of Gujarat - who runs a website,www.mrunal.org, to guide civil service aspirants - calls the trend "disturbing".
The UPSC - which has given the total number of candidates who failed the languages papers - however, refuses to make the cut-off marks public as candidates would be "tempted to put in less effort in these papers.
The commission, however, is understood to have backed demands for removing the Indian language paper but did not find much support from the Department of Personnel & Training.