New Delhi: The Indian government Monday said that the marks in English language comprehension skills in the civil service exam aptitude test would not be included in preparing the merit list but the opposition continued to raise objections, particularly on discrimination against regional languages.
Minister of State in Prime Minister's Office Jitendra Singh told the Rajya Sabha that the exams have been thus made "language neutral".
"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 in gradation or merit," the minister said in his statement made in both the houses.
He also announced that candidates who appeared in Civil Services Examination 2011 may be allowed one more attempt in 2015.
"The government has studied the matter very deeply and tried to handle it sensitively," Jitendra Singh said.
In the Rajya Sabha, many members wanted to seek clarifications from the minister.
However, Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien said that the statement was made on a demand and clarifications could not be taken up.
Undeterred, opposition members from non-Hindi speaking states said it was still partial towards regional languages, even as Jitendra Singh clarified: "We have made it language neutral."
"Students from south India may be understanding English better than Hindi. What about them," said Vayalar Ravi of the Congress, and was joined by other members from non-Hindi speaking states. "The non-Hindi speaking students have been facing bias for very long," said Kanimozhi of the DMK.
"The question paper for UPSC must be in all national languages, why only Hindi and English," said P Rajeeve of the Communist Party of India-Marxist.
In response, Jitendra Singh said all languages in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution are treated equally and that status remains unchanged.
This did not satisfy opposition members who wanted clarifications, despite the deputy chairman insisting that a notice can be given to discuss the topic later. As the din continued, the upper house saw two brief adjournments, before being adjourned for the day. 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 in the preliminary exam, conducted by the Union Service Public Commission (UPSC), 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 10 level).
The aspirants for the examination have been demanding it be scrapped as they term it discriminatory to those from Hindi-speaking states as well as humanities students.
The civil services examination is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) in three stages—preliminary, main, and interview — to choose candidates for Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS) and Indian Police Service (IPS), among others.