The number of students writing the UPSC mains exam in English has been disproportionately high over the last few years,analysis of UPSC data from 2009 to 2014 show.
Data was compiled from annual reports of UPSC by public information portal ‘Factly’, which they shared with The Hindu .
A significant jump was seen in the year 2011 when 83 per cent candidates took the mains exam in English compared to around 62 per cent in 2009. Corresponding to that, Hindi saw a steep decline – a drop of around 20 percentage points from 36 per cent in 2010 to 15 per cent in 2011.
Introduction of CSAT
This sudden change coincides with the introduction of the CSAT examination in UPSC prelims in 2011. This change was opposed by many, as it was argued that the new pattern was biased in favour of English-speaking students.
Note that data on the language chosen by candidates to write prelims is not available which makes it difficult to establish whether the jump is indeed indicative of a bias or if that is a consequence of more students taking the prelims exam in English.
Yogendra Yadav, social and political scientist, finds this trend concerning. Speaking to The Hindu , he said, “In India, language is one of the most significant markers of social inequality. Much of the social dominance is translated into language. The language of dominance – English – is now the dominant language and it is shocking to see this reverse in trend.”
Mr. Yadav said that students coming to bureaucracy from Indian language medium bring along certain sensitivity and understanding of problems of ordinary people.
In the Indian Languages section, most students opted for Hindi in the period from 2009 to 2014, followed by Marathi. But the proportion of students opting for Hindi is on a decline; 66 per cent candidates chose Hindi in 2014 compared to 74 per cent in 2009. On the other hand, the percentage of students choosing Marathi is increasing – from 5 per cent in 2009 to 9 per cent in 2014, with a peak in 2013 when 11 per cent chose the language. Note that apart from Hindi, only Marathi, Tamil and Telugu are chosen by more than 5 per cent of the candidates in the Indian language exam.
Data show that students with engineering background now comprise the bulk of selected students, overtaking humanities; 51 per cent of the recommended candidates in 2013 were engineers, compared to 30 per cent in 2009. Earlier, humanities students were the most successful.