Choosing Civil Servants

By The Editor

Hundreds of protestors claiming to be civil services aspirants or so media say have been seen taking to streets to protest against the CSAT exam which apparently measures English proficiency of the candidate who hope to become a diplomat, district collector, magistrate, IPS officer or other high ranking official in the Indian Government. Now there is two side of this coin as with every issue in India but one thing can be said for certain. Those on street are not the one preparing for the UPSC exam.

 Though not knowing English is not a crime but the kind of positions that are filled through UPSC exam requires the person to be proficient in at least two or three languages if not specifically in English but given the regional divides we have over languages, politicians make it a point of regional pride to discourage people from learning other languages. In the western countries, especially in United States, government institutions, universities and schools encourage students to learn foreign languages and provide them all means available in this pursuit including scholarship, study aids and even going as far as to fund a trip in a foreign country to learn its ways, culture and understand its people. And where do these skills come handy? In diplomacy, business negotiations, defense and spying. We have to remember that these positions require right person for right job, these people would be responsible for decision making, analysis and communicating to people who might or might not speak English, Hindi or any other language we speak for that matter.

 But if we look at another aspect of this argument, India is a huge country with millions of students coming from wide variety of backgrounds. Many due to unfortunate circumstances don’t have means and resources to study languages and all protesting aside, these aspirants unfairly lag behind other students with English background due to their lack of knowledge of the language. It poses a tricky problem of not tapping in the talent pool of students coming from the impoverished part of social spectrum. So what’s the solution then? Again, we can learn few things from the West on this one. American Universities regardless of courses related to Medicine, Engineering, Science, Arts or MBA require all the applicants to write a short essay on their purpose, future goals and consideration for choosing the college or degree program and other relevant topics. We can introduce a similar assessment for candidates where they can write essay in their own mother tongue to express their views, motivation and aspiration to pursue a civil services career. For twist, the topic of essay or essays can be changed every year. You can understand and tell a lot about people by reading their views and way he or she expresses it. After all, they look for people with right mindset.

 There is no doubt that our exam system is flawed and has to be revamped from UPSC to medical but some system has to be in place for selection. Instead of succumbing to political pressure, government should plan to reorganize the selection process in order to augment the utilization of country’s talent.

One Comment

  1. Very good suggestion.

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