The government is mulling doing away with compulsory English language examination at mains level in the prestigious civil services test conducted by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).
The Centre’s move to make English language proficiency mandatory for qualifying the examinations had come under attack from its allies and opponents including SP, RJD, Left parties, Akali Dal, National Conference, AIADMK, DMK and BJP, forcing it on Friday to keep a notification in this regard in abeyance.
Earlier, the English test paper was only qualifying in nature and its marks were not added for selecting the candidate.
Sources in the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, which had taken out the notification after consultation with the UPSC, said it was planning to introduce a new format for the mains exams by removing the compulsory requirement of qualifying in the Queen’s language and its marks may also not be added for final selection of candidates.
A meeting will be called soon with the officials of UPSC, which conducts the civil services exams to choose candidates for Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS), Indian Forest Service (IFoS) and Indian Foreign Service (IFS) among others, to discuss the road map and take a final decision in this regard, they said.
However, keeping the notification in abeyance will not affect civil services preliminary examination scheduled to be held on May 26.
The Ministry of Personnel had on March 5 in an official gazette notification made certain changes in the civil services mains examination, by giving more weightage to English and general studies paper.
From Civil Services (Mains) exams, 2013, there will be four compulsory general services papers of 250 marks each, in addition to two optional papers of 250 marks each. Earlier, there were two compulsory papers on general studies and two optional papers of 300 marks each.
Total marks for the main exams will be 1,800. The paper on essay and English comprehension will be of 300 marks.
A new paper on ‘Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude’ has also been introduced for CSE-2013.
As per the revised pattern, a candidate will not be allowed to write civil services exams in a regional language of his choice unless there are at least 25 such aspirants choosing the particular medium.
This and other issues in the notification had prompted Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi to raise the matter with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for its removal.
The applications for the main examination are scheduled to be called during August and September this year.