New Delhi: Candidates looking to avail of the 10 per cent reservation for upper-caste poor in this year’s civil services examination, which helps select candidates for IAS, IPS, IFS and other prized government jobs, find themselves at sea over what exactly the quota entails.
As of now, a Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe (SC/ST) candidate is allowed unlimited attempts to clear the exam till the age of 37, while an Other Backward Classes (OBC) aspirant can make nine attempts until they turn 35. These benefits are apart from the 50 per cent of seats set aside for SC/ST and OBC candidates.
While general-category candidates have so far been allowed six attempts until the age of 32, a 10 per cent quota is now to be set aside for the upper-caste poor from this year onwards.
With applications for the 2019 civil services exam opening last month, an official in the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), the exam-conducting authority, told ThePrint that general-category aspirants had been flooding them with queries over whether the quota would also earn them a relaxation in the age limit and number of attempts.
The official said the queries ought to be directed to the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), the nodal agency of the UPSC.
“The UPSC is only the implementing authority,” he said, adding, however that “if any such plan (relaxation of age limit or number of attempts) was on the anvil, the DoPT would have drafted it and communicated it to us”.
A highly-placed source in the UPSC ruled out the possibility of age and attempt exemptions altogether, saying the quota benefit would only extend to seats.
“It is unlikely that there would be any relaxation in age limit, or increase in the number of attempts. The quota for the economically weaker sections (EWS) would only amount to a certain number of seats set aside for beneficiaries,” the source said.
A DoPT official echoed the UPSC source. “There is no such proposal as of now,” the official said.
Over 10 lakh candidates apply for the civil services examination every year for 24 government services, including the IAS, the IPS and the IFS.
The Narendra Modi administration had earlier this year announced a 10 per cent quota for the upper-caste poor in government jobs and educational institutes, fulfilling a longstanding demand of the financially-disadvantaged sections of the general category.
The quota applies to households with a combined annual income of less than Rs 8 lakh, those who hold agricultural land less than five acres, whose houses are under 1,000 square feet, and who own land not exceeding 100 yards in municipal areas, and 200 yards in non-municipal areas.
In a notification issued 19 February, the UPSC announced the implementation of the quota in the big-ticket civil services exam from this year.
Since this is the maiden run of the quota, the application process has been marked by confusion. As reported by ThePrint last month, candidates have been worried about the fact that their respective state governments are yet to issue their income and assets certificates, which would be needed to avail of the EWS quota.
This has led the government to give general-category quota-seekers a longer window to submit the certificates.
Candidates claiming reservation under any quota have to posses certificates dated earlier than the closing date of applications for the preliminary examination.
However, for the EWS category, a one-time exception has been made to allow certificates dated before 1 August 2019, when the applications for the mains exam will be submitted.
Applications for the preliminary exam close 18 March.
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