Alleging that the untimely changes in the civil services examinations announced on March 5 are against the spirit of fair competition, civil service aspirants across the city are demanding that they be considered fresh candidates and their previous attempts be wiped off the records.

“When the written exam scheme was last changed in 1979, three fresh attempts were given to all the candidates who met the other eligibility criteria,” said Shashank Shukla, an engineer from Uttar Pradesh who gave up his job and has been here for three years trying to clear the exam.

He, along with several other distressed students across the city, many of them from outside Delhi have also visited the Prime Minister’s Office, presenting a thick memorandum which details many “why’s” that the government should answer while giving into their demands.

“Fresh attempts must be given to OBC and general candidates, considering the drastic changes in the nature of exam after 34 years and considering the fact that when written exam scheme was last changed in 1979, three fresh attempts were given to all the candidates. Even if this cannot be granted, at least two fresh attempts, each to OBC and general candidates must be given,” said Shashank. Their other demand is to allow candidates to take the exam in their regional language and that it be given as much importance as English.

While the introduction of allocating 100 marks for English drew flak from several quarters like the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, which has been holding protests across the city alleging that the move is elitist and anti-rural, these students have more issues: “New subjects have been introduced, the allocation of marks have changed and we hardly have six months to prepare for an exam for which we require at least one year,” said Harish, an LLM student from Bangalore, adding the changes would affect him drastically as November could be his last attempt since he would be turning 30 thereafter. He was not upset at the changes themselves but at the incredibly short time that they were being implemented in. “Civil service examinations mean temporarily giving up your life, professional and personal and dedicating yourself wholly to study,’’ he said.

“At least one year is needed to tackle one set of exams and any change, even minor will have a huge impact and could ruin your chances at clearing the exam,” said Sumit Dalal, who used to teach at the Campus Law Centre before clearing the exam became his one and only goal.

The students are now worried since they hardly have a month to fight their cause, since registrations for the exams close on April 4.

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