Civil service aspirants are back to square one.
The government on Friday was boxed into withdrawing all changes made to the civil services examination just 10 days earlier after MPs cutting across party lines opposed the move to restrict candidates from taking the exam in regional languages and count marks in a new English paper for ranking them.
"We will keep the notification in abeyance. Status quo ante will be maintained," minister of state for personnel V Narayanasamy told Lok Sabha after a heated impromptu debate.
Some members even called for impeachment of the Union Public Service Commission chairman DP Agarwal.Government officials told HT orders were being sent to the UPSC to revert to last year's examination format for now.
This means civil service aspirants will have to select two optional subjects instead of one under the new format.
"All the changes are being rolled back," one official said.
The new rules allowed aspirants to take the examination in their regional language only if it was the language of instruction in their graduation. Besides, it dictated that unless there were at least 25 candidates opting for a particular language, aspirants would have to answer the exams in either English or Hindi.
A regional language paper had also been scrapped.Politicians from non-hindi speaking states complained the rules would give candidates from the cow belt an unfair advantage.
Leaders from the Hindi-heartland such as RJD's Lalu Prasad and JD (U) Sharad Yadav, on the other hand, called the rule to make marks in English count for ranking as a "conspiracy" against weaker sections.
In the older format – that will now be applicable this year too –candidates had to clear a English and regional language paper but marks in these papers were not counted for ranking the successful candidates.
Incidentally, Narayanasamy – who had to defend the changes in Lok Sabha as the junior minister-incharge – had expressed similar concerns to the Prime Minister's Office when he opposed the UPSC recommendation. He was, however, over-ruled by the PMO.
Officials at the department of personnel and training had also opposed introducing the changes from this year. But the UPSC persuaded the PMO.