A parliamentary panel believes that the Union Public Service Commission’s (UPSC) current practice of conducting Civil Services interviews separately for general, OBC, SC and ST candidates may prejudice the interview board against candidates belonging to reserved categories.
“We are studying the report of a recent seminar in Madras University and will forward it to the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) and the UPSC. Many reserved category candidates have complained that segregation by category prejudices the board against them. The candidates should be called alphabetically or in order of merit and not by category. The board should assess candidates on performance alone and not on category,” E.M.S. Natchiappan, chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice told Hindustan Times.
The Chennai seminar report says: “A member of the interview board knows whether the interview is conducted for OC, OBC, SC or ST category. Conducting interviews separately on communal order might lead to a prejudiced opinion among the members of the Board, especially towards candidates belonging to OBC, SC and ST.” The report also suggests video recording of all interviews, which is expected to make the board more sensitive while dealing with students from marginal groups and enable authorities to counter-check whether candidates were correctly judged.
A random sample survey of interview marks of candidates from different categories done by some OBC bureaucrats shows that general candidates perform better than reserved candidates in the interview. The average difference between the general and OBC candidates’ interview marks is five per cent while the over-all difference in the Mains cut-offs of the two categories is less than one per cent. Similarly, between general and SC candidates, the overall Mains cut-off difference is about two per cent but the average difference in interview marks of the sample candidates is eight per cent. This, many reserved category bureaucrats say, is evidence of the bias at play during interviews.
Moreover, while 29 per cent of the general candidates in the sample scored more than 200 — out of a maximum of 300 — in the interview, only three per cent OBCs scored above 200.