New Delhi: Thousands of aspirants are pushing an online petition that raises concerns over going ahead with the annual Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) exam on its scheduled 4 October date. They have cited the disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic to suggest that this year’s exam be merged with the 2021 exercise.
The posts on offer this year, they said, should accordingly be added to the ones notified for the 2021 exam.
If a postponement of the exam is not possible, the petitioners added, a compensatory attempt should be offered to aspirants who are left with just one shot to clear the exams. Started via Change.org, an online petitions portal, the demand had received 9,000 signatures by Saturday.
“We suggest to preferably merge the UPSC 2020 cycle along with 2021 cycle with the proportional increased posts and providing a compensatory attempt to those, whose last attempt ends by 2020,” the petition states. “Meanwhile, as estimated by various research agencies, the extremity of pandemic gets subsided and the vaccine is available for mass consumption.”
The preliminary examination — which is the first stage of the three-stage Civil Service Examination (CSE) — was initially scheduled for 31 May. However, due to the spread of the pandemic, the UPSC postponed it to 4 October.
But the aspirants have pointed to the continued rise in Covid-19 cases to argue that it would be “unjust” to go ahead with the October date.
As of Saturday, India had over 6.6 lakh active Covid-19 cases, with over 18 lakh recoveries and 49,036 deaths.
“The number of cases of Covid-19 is not plateauing. Even the vaccine is not available as of date. In these times of uncertainty where the pandemic is inching towards three million and started spreading beyond cities, we feel unsafe to take up any assignment that requires movement beyond our native place,” the petition adds.
“Unlike other entrance examinations, the UPSC exam process is a three-stage performance capture structure. After giving prelims, the candidate has to get ready for Mains within 90 days,” the petition states.
“Suppose if a candidate gets affected by Corona virus due to his prelims journey, he loses a fortnight of preparation time and it affects his chances of clearing Mains exam. On the top of this, he also loses the count of one attempt. This is sheer inequity.”
Asked if there was a chance that the exam could be postponed again, a UPSC official told ThePrint that they are monitoring the situation on a daily basis, and a “call will be taken closer to the date”.
Speaking to ThePrint, several civil services aspirants said they were grateful to the government for postponing the exam once, but sought another deferment in the interest of their health as well as to curtail the spread of the virus.
“Over 6 lakh people take the exam every year… For people to travel in such large numbers across exam centres and venues along with their parents, prepare for the exam in such anxiety, and risk infection is extremely unfair,” said an aspirant who did not wish to be named.
“Across the world, governments, universities are coming up with innovative ways to ensure that examinations can be conducted without imperiling the health of the youth… Our government should also take a liberal view in the matter,” the aspirant added.
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