Retrograde step

The Union Public Service Commission’s decision to grant two additional chances for candidates who take the civil services examinations is lacking in logic and will not be found necessary by most people, including even many aspirants.

 The UPSC has notified its decision and it is applicable for examinations to be held from this year. It is not known what prompted it to relax the number of attempts and increase them from the present four to six. If it was a demand from candidates, it should have given better thought to the implications and consequences of the idea before conceding it. The notification does not give any explanation. Along with the number of attempts, the age limit for the examinations has also been increased by two years. All eligible candidates between the ages of 21 and 32 can now appear for the examinations for a maximum number of six times.

The obvious question is whether a candidate who has failed four or five times and finally manages to get through is good enough to be among the country’s top bureaucrats of the administrative and foreign services. He can be admired for his perseverance but it may not be supported by merit and ability. Originally only three chances were available for civil services aspirants but one more attempt was later granted. Many candidates, especially from the rural areas or those from weaker backgrounds,  needed to become familiar with the format of the exam and gain experience. But more than four attempts would be a luxury. It goes against the need to recruit administrators at a young age, train them and put them in responsible positions when they have the best energy, creativity and power of comprehension.

 Many aspiring  and never-say-die graduates would now be preparing for and taking the exam for 10 years in their lives. It is doubtful if many candidates will actually benefit also, because the chances of success in the fifth and sixth attempts cannot be considered very high. The rationale for relaxation may be understandable in the case of special category candidates but not for others. The coaching industry would be happy.

Since the superannuation age in the services remain the same and promotions generally depend upon seniority many late entrants will get behind younger ones and will not reach their normal career destinations. In any case, the quality and standards of the services cannot be improved with this decision.

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