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HindustanTimes Thu,30 Oct 2014

CSAT: Govt says decision on Verma panel report soon

ANI  New Delhi, August 01, 2014
First Published: 14:54 IST(1/8/2014) | Last Updated: 17:46 IST(1/8/2014)

Minister of state (MoS) in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) Dr Jitendra Singh said on Friday that the Varma Committee report on changes to be made in the pattern of conducting civil service examinations is with the government, which in turn, will give a final decision on it in a couple of days.

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Singh said, "Now that the report has come, the government will plan and act accordingly. I want to assure that the decision will be well thought out and a balanced one."

"I also want to request the students that they do not need to unnecessarily stress themselves, physically and mentally," he added.

Singh also said, "We have to make further decisions only after consulting every other party. And now when we are provided with their inputs, the government will take the decision accordingly and at the earliest."

Watch: Government seeks time to study report

To look into demands of students for changes in the pattern of civil services examination, a three-member committee was formed in March this year under the chairmanship of former secretary of department of personnel and training (DoPT), Arvind Varma.

UPSC aspirants have been protesting vociferously against the Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) examination, which was introduced in 2011, and demanded that it be made easy for rural students.

Till 2010, the UPSC had two papers - one on general studies and one on an optional subject, where aspirants could choose one of the 23 listed subjects. Changing the syllabus from 2011, the UPSC replaced the optional subject paper with a paper that tests the aspirants' aptitude-CSAT.

The second paper in the preliminary exam comprises comprehension, interpersonal skills including communication skills, logical reasoning and analytical ability, decision making and problem solving, general mental ability, basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude, etc - Class X level).

The syllabus also has data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency, etc - Class X level) and English language comprehension skills (Class X level).

Aspirants are having problems with the CSAT syllabus, as they feel it favours those who are from the science stream or, more specifically from an engineering background.

They have also claimed that CSAT is discriminatory against students from the humanities stream, particularly those who have studied in Hindi.

The protesters believe that the English language comprehension skills, which the second paper tests, is discriminatory against students from a Hindi-medium background. They claim that since the changes were introduced in 2011, the number of humanities students clearing the preliminary exam has fallen drastically, while the number of those with science and engineering background has shot up.

While the general studies (GS) paper has a minimum cut-off of 30 marks, for CSAT it is 70 marks. The protesters said that the CSAT is an aptitude-based test, and since aptitude cannot be improved much, the CSAT should not be given more weightage.

The protesters have also raised their voice against the use of the Google Translator for translating CSAT questions from English to Hindi, which they termed as a disastrous experiment.


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