The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) headquarters in New Delhi | Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint
The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) headquarters in New Delhi | Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint
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New Delhi: The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) has asked the National Informatics Centre (NIC) to prepare a proposal for holding online interviews for candidates for different exams the commission conducts, ThePrint has learnt.

However, this will have no impact on the interviews for the Civil Services Examination 2019 that are scheduled to be from held 20-30 July.

Earlier this week, a meeting was held between the commission and officials from the NIC to explore the possibility of online interviews in case the Covid situation persists for long, sources in the UPSC said.

“It is more like a pre-emptive step by the commission,” said an official who didn’t wish to be named. He didn’t specify details about when this could come into effect.

“For the interviews of the Civil Services Exam, we are going ahead with the physical interviews as always anyway … There was no way a mechanism for online interviews could be come up with at such a short notice, but we want to be prepared for the eventuality of the Covid situation not improving for a while,” the official said.

“The interviews will throw up some challenges for us … There are hundreds of candidates and interviewers coming for the interviews from all parts of the country, so there is a fear of infection even though all precautions will be taken,” a second official said on condition of anonymity.

“Depending on how these interviews go, the commission will announce other interviews …But at the same time, we want to explore the online medium,” said the second official.

“Among the things that NIC has been asked to explore is how online interviews can be conducted for those living in far-flung and less connected parts of the country,” the official said. “If the candidate has to travel from a village to a city anyway for an interview, then what is the point — these are some of the things NIC will respond to us about.”

ThePrint reached Department of Personnel and Training spokesperson Shambhi Chaudhary for a comment but there was no response until the time of publishing this report.

Also read: 67% marks in board exams aren’t the end of the world. Just ask this Punjab IPS officer

No online exams yet

The UPSC has, however, ruled out online exams for Civil Services for now since it currently does not have the bandwidth to conduct the exam for almost 10-11 lakh candidates online.

“There is no capacity for that scale of an online exam at present,” an official had earlier told ThePrint.

In case the exam is conducted online, it would have to be a multiple session exam — which would pose its own set of problems. Multiple session exams typically are conducted in batches wherein the candidates are divided into groups to write the exam in different time slots.

“For an exam as competitive as the UPSC civil service exam, it is very difficult,” said the official. “Candidates can argue that a particular paper was easier than the other, and hence contest the results of the exam.”

For the purpose of the coming interviews, the commission would be reimbursing air fare for candidates, the first official quoted above said. “These are trying times, so along with rail tickets, commission will be reimbursing air fare to candidates as well … All the candidates have been informed.”

Also read: UPSC allows candidates of civil services prelims exam to change centres


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