New Delhi: While the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) has drastically changed the pattern of the civil services examination since 2010, no study has been commissioned to assess how such changes impacted the aspirants, nature of recruitment and administration in general, a Rajya Sabha panel on personnel, public grievances, law and justice has noted in its report.
According to the report released last month, Rajya Sabha committees had recommended earlier too that an expert committee be constituted “to assess the impact of the drastic changes brought about by the commission (UPSC) in the scheme of examination since 2010 on administration and candidates”.
The UPSC has time and again stated in its response that the Baswan Committee had been constituted for this purpose. However, the Rajya Sabha committee said it was well aware that Baswan Committee was “constituted to make recommendations on the eligibility, syllabus, scheme and pattern of examination”, but what the parliamentary panel has been “emphatic about in its recommendations is ‘Administrative Impact Assessment’, i.e. an assessment of the impact of administrative decisions”.
“UPSC changed the pattern of civil services examination from time to time on the basis of recommendations made by various expert committees. However, no study has been commissioned to assess how such changes impacted the aspirants, nature of recruitment and administration at large,” the report said. “In light of the above, the committee emphatically reiterates its recommendation and hopes that the (DoPT) will accomplish the task at the earliest.”
ThePrint approached the spokesperson for the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) for a comment on whether any such study has been conducted internally, but there was no response till the time of publishing this report.
Changes to the exam and their effects
Since 2010, a slew of changes have been introduced in the civil service examination — from the number of optional papers to the controversial introduction of the Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) paper; an increase in the number of general studies papers; or the elimination of foreign languages from the language paper.
These changes, several experts have said, have fundamentally altered the composition of the country’s top bureaucracy. Yet, there remains no official analysis of how these changes have impacted either the social composition of the bureaucracy or the administration at large.
According to data from the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, accessed through an RTI application by the Shiksha Sanskriti Utthan Nyas, an RSS-affiliated body working in the field of education, between 2013 and 2018, there was a jump of almost 61 per cent in the recruitment of engineers in the CSE. There was no corresponding increase in recruits from other backgrounds in this period.
“Over time, we have noticed that there has been an increase in engineers coming into the civil services… Now, the ones who are engineers typically come from English-speaking urban areas, as opposed to those from the humanities and arts — candidates who take the exam in local languages,” said Devendra Singh, national convener (competitive exams), SSUN.
“First, it was the introduction of the CSAT, which the government was forced to make a ‘qualifying’ paper after nationwide protests… But, there are several other changes. The descriptive nature of the exam is getting oriented more and more towards short answers,” Singh continued. “This clearly favours those with science and engineering backgrounds as opposed to those with arts backgrounds, whose strength is writing.”
He added: “What is worse is that often, there is no clear communication by the UPSC on what kind of changes are being introduced and the underlying logic behind them, thereby causing more uncertainty.”
However, former DoPT secretary Satynanand Mishra said the changes introduced by the UPSC have ensured that the bureaucracy is more representative than ever before.
“If you say that there are a lot of graduates from IITs coming in, we should see the social composition of the IITs. Several people who crack the exam are those from rural backgrounds,” Mishra said. “Especially after the Mandal Commission report was implemented, the bureaucracy has only turned more representative.”
However, he did add: “What a committee can study is whether the changes brought in by the UPSC over the years have led to greater or lesser efficiency among the bureaucracy… That, in my opinion, would be a more important study.”
(Edited by Shreyas Sharma)