CSAT English marks not to be counted

Aspirants who wrote 2011 test get fresh chance

CSAT English marks not to be counted

Cornered by protests alleging anti-Hindi bias, the government on Monday partially gave in to the protesters’ demands on the controversial civil services preliminary exam by recommending exclusion of marks obtained in English comprehension in Paper-II, for gradation or merit. 

It also suggested giving an extra attempt in 2015 for those who appeared for the test in 2011, when the new format was introduced. 

The exam is popularly known as the Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT). The government’s statement in Parliament, however, did not encourage the protesters and opposition to show the white flag as several questions remained unanswered. 

The protesters are demanding scrapping of the CSAT, alleging that it discriminates against students from rural areas and those with non-science background, besides having an anti-Hindi slant.

Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Jitendra Singh, read out an identical two-sentence statement in both the Houses of Parliament.

“The government is of the opinion that in the civil services, preliminary examination, paper II, the marks of the question-section on English language comprehension skills should not be included for gradation or merit. Candidates who appeared in civil services examination, 2011, may be given one more attempt in 2015,” the statement said.

The statement did not answer questions like whether a candidate can completely ignore English comprehension or is there a qualifying mark for this section.

MPs from the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha were on their feet soon after the statement was made, seeking clarification on whether CSAT was scrapped or not. MPs from non-Hindi speaking states sought to know if civil service aspirants would be able to write the exam in regional languages.

The CSAT has two papers which carry a total of 400 marks, but once the new proposal is accepted, it will be around 380 marks. In the 2013 civil services exam, the cut-off to clear the prelims was 241.

Sources said the government made the statement after consulting the Union Public Service Commission, a constitutional body that is not bound to accept government recommendations.

The commission will come up with the exact details in a day or two that will clear doubts of aspirants as it prepares to go ahead with the exam scheduled for August 24, they added. While students protesting against the current form are unhappy with the continuance of CSAT, another section of aspirants feel that their preparation for English comprehension would be rendered useless if it were not counted.

Some may also take legal recourse challenging the move. Meanwhile, as several aspirants staged a protest in Jantar Mantar, the Congress-backed NSUI said it “outrightly rejected the government’s lollipop”on the issue and vowed to continue its agitation, which will be extended nationwide.

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