A three-member committee was set up in March this year under the chairmanship of Arvind Varma to look into the issue of scrapping contentious Civil Services Aptitude Test-II (CSAT) or a postponement of the August 24 preliminary examination.

The government sources said that there is a very little chance of recommendation for scrapping CSAT. Instead, the panel may more likely to opt for reducing the weightage of English language questions, including the comprehensions, in General Studies Paper II, which carries 200 marks in all.

The sources further said that the official postponement of prelims exam 2014 may not be a practical option as this year’s examination, which is scheduled on August 24, is nearly three months late. The 2013 prelims exam was conducted on May 26 last year. Any further delay would add on to inconvenience for the aspirants as very little time-gap would be left between the prelims and Mains due in December.

Meanwhile, the government has urged the UPSC to postpone the preliminary exam till there is clarity on the syllabus and exam pattern.

A release issued by the ministry later said the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has advised the committee members conveying the urgency of the matter and to furnish the report without any delay.

Students have been objecting to the level of aptitude and English language questions being asked in the examination claiming they are much above the standard prescribed for the examination.

Scores of civil services aspirants have been demanding that the pattern for the CSAT be changed to give level-playing field to those coming from rural areas. They have been holding protests in various places in the national capital in support of their demands including that to postpone the date of prelim examination.

Govt says looking at issue with sensitivity
Talking to reporters outside Parliament House, Minister of State for Personnel and Training Jitendra Singh blamed the Opposition for disrupting the proceedings in the Rajya Sabha where the government wanted to have a discussion on a statement made on the issue.
"The government today sought to place and makes a statement in the Rajya Sabha on the issue of the UPSC exam...Unfortunately on account of disturbance caused by the Opposition, the discussion, which could have followed the statement, could not take place.
"The government is absolutely seized of the matter. We are looking at the issue with all the sympathy, sensitivity and seriousness at our command," Singh said.
Parties including Congress, RJD and Samajwadi Party had criticised the alleged "discrimination" by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) against candidates opting for Hindi and regional languages as medium for Civil Services examination.
The aspirants have been holding prolonged protests and resorting to hunger strike for several weeks demanding scrapping of Civil Services Aptitude Tests (CSAT), saying the exam pattern was putting Hindi and regional language aspirants at a disadvantage.

CAST controversy

The civil services examination is conducted in three stages--preliminary, main, and interview-- to choose candidates for prestigious Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS) and Indian Police Service (IPS) among others.

There are two compulsory papers of 200 marks each in the preliminary examination. These papers are also known as CSAT I and CSAT II.

The CSAT-II paper carries questions on comprehension, interpersonal skills including communication skills, logical reasoning and analytical ability, decision making and problem solving, general mental ability, basic numeracy, and English language comprehension skills (of Class X level).

The CSAT, which was introduced in 2011, is the preliminary-level examination which intends to focus on analytical abilities and understanding rather than the ability to memorize. It is under controversy since its inception with the Hindi medium students claiming that this will lead to biased results and benefit those belonging to the English medium.


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