fifty years ago December 26, 1969 Archives

Not in 14 languages

In spite of warnings from many responsible quarters against the introduction of all the regional languages as alternative media for the examinations of the Union Public Service Commission, the Government of India is going ahead with the proposal. That the option to answer in the regional languages is to be confined for the present to two papers, namely the Essay and General Knowledge, has not allayed the misgivings of anyone. Even the Estimates Committee of Parliament has held that the step would make a mockery of the competitive nature of the examinations. It is hardly surprising that the UPSC itself has now come out with a list of difficulties in the implementation of the scheme. The Commission has said that it is finding it very difficult to locate suitable examiners in the regional languages. The UPSC has also done well to point out the poor progress made in the various universities in making regional languages an effective medium of higher education. With grossly inadequate text-books, chaotically diverse terminology and no reliable reference books in the various academic disciplines, the projection of these languages as media of modern higher education, still less of the all-India competitive examinations, will have to remain a futile exercise for years to come.

Anyway, now that a decision has been taken to go ahead with a limited experiment of trying out these languages in two papers, the public can only await its outcome. The UPSC has been compelled to turn down the Government’s further request to set the question papers for these two examinations (Essay and General Knowledge) also in the regional languages. It fears that both accuracy and secrecy of the question papers will be in jeopardy, if set in the regional languages. If in its opinion accuracy cannot be ensured in the questions, it is hard to see how it will be possible in the answers. The UPSC would have vindicated itself if it had been as frank in resisting the entire experiment firmly.

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