Kudos to the government for removing the most unfair barriers to writing the civil services examination under the cloak of “English Comprehension”. It was like the balcony tickets in cinema halls or entry to clubs asking millions as admission fees or even the blocking of a High Court judge’s entry in the cricket association in Chennai because he was clad in the traditional dress of dhoti even as such associations survive on government doles in the form of cheap land and tax exemptions. These are attempts only to screen the ordinary so as to facilitate the privileged. To surmise that talent is missing from those people who do not know English of a certain standard is betraying bias or ignorance. Unfortunately the pernicious English media has converted the simple issue into one of Hindi & English controversy, which has deadly implications in India. The whole purpose of the defeated political parties is to create problems for the Modi government. Language controversy is only one such area. Their final destination is the repeat of the dangerous language riots of the 1963 variety. Since Modi has succeeded in making inroads even in the southern states and eastern India in the last elections, opposition parties are desperate to regain their lost territories in these states. They are getting some support from Modi’s own party-men who have jumped to push their Hindi agenda without even understanding the complexities involved. Only ignorant people will rake up issues like language at this juncture; the sagacious will show better understanding and patience.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will have to personally supervise the developments, as his predecessor Jawahar Lal Nehru had to do in 1963. I don’t want to delve any further on the subject and leave it to the wisdom of the Prime Minister. However, there is an urgent need to rein in the rogue media debates by shouting anchors and irresponsible participants, all of whom have consistently betrayed complete lack of knowledge on the subject. They have not cared to even read the constitutional provisions regarding language and yet they are livid as if they are wiser and better informed than the framers of the Indian constitution! TV channels and newspapers are owned by the same business houses and their reporting of news and views is mendacious. They are fomenting language strife in the country by their abuse of the freedom of speech. They need not be censored, but certainly the Doordarshan can beat them at their game by arranging scholarly and fully informed debates. Sadly it has been woefully failing in these matters of great national importance because under the policy of the government so far, they have been treating soft issues contemptuously and language happens to be one such issue of tremendous value. Had the significance of the language and translation been appreciated by the previous government, the politicians would not have been displaying their lack of knowledge of “translation” by calling it Google translation. They have just heard or seen on their computer the words Google translation. They think the UPSC gets its translation done by Google! What can you do other than having a hearty laugh as such ignorance! They insult and injure a whole class of human translators and some contribution from indigenously developing software like MANTra. Can one reason with these rulers of modern India?
Next is their attack on the other aspects of the Aptitude Test. Like language or translation, here also they are ill informed and politicizing a subject beyond their comprehension. They are misleading the vulnerable sections of society who aspire to enter the civil services but have no mentors to help them prepare for the job in the contemporary knowledge society where competition is extremely tough because the job requirements are tough. The political class is trifling the most competitive examination in the country by making fake assurances of getting the aptitude test dropped. Even if the test is dropped, the requirement will be there and no civil servant will survive without acquiring the necessary skills. In fact, I am personally opposed to the whole idea of a preliminary examination: why filter aspirants through such an examination? The ineligible will drop out themselves as was the case before erecting this impediment. When I wrote my exam way back in 1969, after the first two papers it used to be only the serious candidates who remained in the ring. I would consider it appropriate for the aspirants to prepare for the tests, aptitude or physical as at the SSB selections, and seek government help for coaching as is provided for certain selected sections of society presently. It will cover the gap between the two streams of education: average institutions and the best in the country (what is being termed as rural areas and urban areas). The government has to only use information technology to achieve this goal and all sections of the aspiring youth will feel happy and relieved. Since the Prime Minister is an IT Buff himself, he should deliver results to stun the opposition out of their malicious wits as he had done in the elections.,
The game of the politicians claiming to espouse the cause of “students” is exposed by the fact that education stands ruined by them in their states. The condition is so awful that hordes of students migrate to other states from UP and Bihar for education because their state does not care for them. For decades, government school and college teachers have been working without salary in these states and when they agitate for their wages, they are brutally attacked by the lathi-wielding police, which hits even women unashamedly. And these politicians watch in pride and enjoy fun(!). Most institutions are owned by these politicians or by their cronies, which obtain signatures of teachers on the government prescribed salaries but pay not even 10% of it. Such is the level of corruption and condition of education in many states, whose leaders are shouting for the cause of the students. They are, in fact, punishing the students for their “independent thinking” in the last General Election, which resulted in their defeat and Modi’s victory. They want their vote banks back, they don’t care a bit if it happens as a result of mass murders, rapes, riots or other means. For their survival it should happen. Modi has to beat them at their game decisively and establish his superiority.
The pattern of CS Exam has been devised by scholars of repute and not by politicians. It can always be improved only if justified but not because of agitations by the political parties pushing vigorously their agenda. The English paper is one of the other papers in the CS Mains. Even then the electronic media is rabble rousing as if heavens have fallen. The politicians from Bihar and UP and other states have not modified the pattern of their state civil services conducted by the UP Public Service Commission or the Bihar Public Service Commission or other state PSCs on the lines they are demanding from the Modi government for students desirous of writing Civil Services Exam of the Union. If they are really sincere in their views and genuinely care for the poor, rural and Hindi speaking students, let them first facilitate easy entry for these people in the state Civil services. They will never do that, because they are empowering their progeny with the best education in India and abroad but want to freeze the poor population to remain un-empowered so that they work on their farms for free being educated unemployed and remain vote banks forever.
Luckily, today’s aspirants are better placed than us – they have access to the internet. The politician or newspapers cannot fool them, for it is possible to understand issues in depth without restricting oneself to these sources of information, which used to be the only means in our times. It is these skills alone that will come to their rescue in the highly competitive world. They should understand one thing very clearly: these skills that aspirants misguided by politicians are opposing, will get them employment in government as well as private sector, in India or abroad. Who puts the civil services at number 1? The ignorant or the greedy who think of making easy money quickly. It is only when a person has failed to acquire professional skills or deprived of career guidance who thinks of giving first preference today to civil services as a choice career. So the conclusion is that the world does not come to an end if one does not make it to the civil services. After all, lakhs appear but not more than 2000 jobs are on offer in all categories in any year. What do the lakhs left out do? Again approach the Netaji or desert him/her for skill development and nice job?
This round has gone to Narendra Modi. The agitating classes better remember that the agitations can also be carried out in other parts of the country against them. Have they evaluated the consequences? If not, they better do it urgently. They alone shall be responsible for the consequences. They shall be archived if it happens.