The Modi government on Saturday directed the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) to not count marks for English comprehension skills in Paper II of the civil services preliminary examination.
The government’s announcement came hours after a change of guard at the UPSC. A retired civil servant, Rajni Razdan, took over as the new UPSC chairman from Prof DP Agrawal who had conceived and pushed for examination reforms. Before being appointed as UPSC member earlier, Razdan had last headed the administrative reforms department at the Centre.
In its announcement, the department of personnel said civil service aspirants could leave out the section on English language but would still get two hours to answer Paper II, often referred to as the civil services aptitude test (CSAT). "The maximum marks for Paper II would be 200 minus the marks earmarked for the English Language Comprehension Skills," the statement said.
The government had announced the concession in face of stiff protests from MPs in Parliament and civil service aspirants on the streets, hoping to address the bias against students from rural parts of the country. Candidates who make it past this exam will, however, still have to clear a mandatory English paper at the second-stage mains level.