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HomeOpinionUPSC can avoid merit list row. Separate exams for Services, training-based selection

UPSC can avoid merit list row. Separate exams for Services, training-based selection

Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla's daughter featured in the second list. Does the UPSC’s policy of declaring results in two instalments benefit reserved categories?

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The result of Civil Services Examination 2019 has, once again, become the subject of controversy. On 4 August 2020, when the  Union Public Service Commission declared final result, recommending “829 candidates in order of merit for appointment to IAS, IPS, IFS and Central Services Group ‘A’ and Group ‘B’ against 927 vacancies”, criticism emerged over non-declaration of a complete list of selected candidates and making of reserved, or waiting list of candidates. The UPSC issued clarifications, justifying its action. The commission has said that its policy is in favour of reserved category candidates — SCs, STs and OBCs.

Now, the UPSC has made recommendation of 89 candidates, which include 73 General, 14 OBC, 1 EWS and 1 SC, for filling up the remaining vacancies. This has not only added fresh fuel to the controversy but is now also surrounded by disinformation and sexism — the name of Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla’s daughter Anjali Birla also figures in the recommended candidates’ list. People on social media have been sharing her pictures with sexist remarks on her dressing sense and spreading disinformation claiming that she has been selected without appearing in the examination.

I analyse the controversy surrounding the Civil Services Examination 2019 result by looking into its genesis and examine the UPSC’s claim that its policy of declaring the result (recommending some names separately) is beneficial for the reserved category candidates. I also trace the logic of a waiting list and whom does it benefit, and look into the other possible solutions of this controversy.

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The genesis of the controversy

The genesis of the present controversy can be traced back to the amendment of Civil Service Examination Rules (vide notification dated 4.12.2004). The amendment was made to enable candidates of reserved categories to exercise their choice of Services. But it was challenged in the Supreme Court, and a constitutional bench of the apex court led by Justice K.G. Balakrishnan upheld the amendments in the Union of India verses Ramesh Ram and Others (May 07, 2010). The reading of this judgment gives a clear picture about the controversy around preparation/declaration of Civil Services Examination results.

The Rule 16 of Civil Services Rules lays down the manner of selection, preparation of merit list and selection of candidates. Rule 16(1) states that “after interview, the candidates will be arranged by the Commission in the order of merit as disclosed by the aggregate marks finally awarded to each candidate in the Main Examination. Thereafter, the Commission shall, for the purpose of recommending candidates against unreserved vacancies, fix a general qualifying mark with reference to the number of unreserved vacancies to be filled up on the basis of the Main Examination. For the purpose of recommending Reserved Category candidates belonging to SCs, STs & OBCs against reserved vacancies, the Commission may relax the general qualifying standard with reference to number of reserved vacancies to be filled up in each of these categories on the basis of the Main Examination. Provided that the candidates belonging to the SCs, STs & OBCs who have not availed themselves of any of the concessions or relaxations in the eligibility or the selection criteria, at any stage of the examination and who after taking into account the general qualifying standards are found fit for recommendation by the Commission shall not be recommended against the vacancies reserved for SCs, STs & OBCs”.

Rule 16(1) clearly stipulates that candidates of reserved category who have scored marks above the general qualifying standard shall be recommended in the general category if such candidates have not availed concession/relaxation in (1) age, (2) minimum educational qualification, (3) number of attempts, and (4) qualifying marks at any stage of examination. Although this rule enables candidates of reserved categories to qualify in the general category, it also creates problems in Service allotment because there is a possibility that such candidates would not be able to get higher services while being in the general category. And hence, for the purpose of service allotment to such candidates, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) made the amendment in the Civil Services Examination Rules and added rule 16 (2), which provides that “while making service allocation, the candidates belonging to SCs, STs & OBCs recommended against unreserved vacancies may be adjusted against reserved vacancies by the Govt. if by this process they get a service of higher choice in the order of their preference”.

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Individual rights versus community interest

The rule 16(1) of Civil Services Examination enables candidates of reserved category to qualify in general category but its outcome could also lead to allotment of lower Services. However, rule 16 (2) gives right to such candidates to claim a seat in the reserved category, which would enable them to get ‘good’ Service. Therefore, Rule 16(2) is beneficial for those reserved category candidates, who qualify in the general category, in getting their preferred choice of Services. But their exercise of the choice to move from general category to reserved category creates vacancy in the general list and could lead to higher numbers in the reserved categories, which is not permissible because the number of vacancies in each category gets fixed at the time of exam advertisement. To avoid this problem, the UPSC has invented the strategy of waiting list.

The process of shifting of SC, ST and OBC candidates qualified in general/open category to their respective categories is actually fixing them in the reserved categories. This reduces overall number of reserved category candidates in Civil Services, and hence this exercise is harmful for the overall community interest of reserved categories. However, not allowing reserved category candidates qualified in the general category to claim ‘good’ Services in the reserved category would amount to punishing them for their hard work, because other candidates of reserved category might get higher Services despite scoring low marks. Our Constitution prioritises individual rights over community interest, that is why the Supreme Court upheld the amendment rules as it protects individual rights.

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The rationale behind waiting list

The moving of SC, ST and OBC candidates from general category to reserved category in pursuit of ‘better’ Services creates vacancy in the general category. Since the reverse hardly happens, seats do not get generated in reserved categories. The only way through which seats can be generated in the reserved category is when somebody opts not to join the Civil Services. Some candidates of general category and reserved category prefer not to join because they are already serving in the Civil Service but have appeared again in hope of getting better Service but have not got the same, or have been selected in the better administrative service of any state public service commission.

The movement of SC, ST and OBC candidates from general category to reserved category can throw out lower rank holder candidates from reserved category. To avoid such a situation, the Commission does not declare the result for all vacancies at one go and instead waits before announcing the second list. This delay helps UPSC in enabling reserved category candidates qualified in the general category in getting their desired Service from reserved seats and saves possibility of facing litigation from candidates who might be thrown out of the final selection. In the waiting list, the Commission keeps mostly candidates of general category, because a large number of vacancies would arise in this category only. This might be the reason why no ST and just one SC candidate figure in the recently recommended waiting list.

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Possible solution

An alternative solution needs to be explored. One of them could be disaggregating Services from having a common exam. There could be a separate exam for each Civil Service or Services can be regrouped. Another solution could be not allotting Services purely on the basis of Civil Services Examination but also on scores earned in training. This idea has been mooted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and is under deliberation.

Arvind Kumar @arvind_kumar is PhD Scholar, Department of Politics & IR, Royal Holloway, University of London. Views are personal.

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  1. It is so confusing……upsc also is not clear about its policy..🤣🤣🤣 My only que is…if rserved category candidate Like anjali birla can get ias service …then it seems like injustice with that general category candidates who is not in top 100 list among 829….who couldnot get ias…due to law rank…nd if Anjali birl has scored marks to come below 100..than why upsc put her in reserved list ????

  2. The new policy envisaged by prime minister will once again be drop ped into controversy because the selected candidates of reserved category will be deprived IAS posts during training process and this will also not be subjects to come under public opinion. So in my thought this will again arouse tension in society

  3. Anjali Birla cleared Prelim,Mains every stage..see her roll no in Prelims Nd mains list ..don’t spread any rumours

  4. Why not simply ,let the candidates decide their category of application before taking exam itself. Then do not allow shifting. That means if reserved candidates want to apply from open category , welcome it,, but then he should not be allowed to go back to reserved category to avail better seat. He has to decide before exam and once and all. Otherwise it defeats the purpose of reservation.
    Regarding assessment Mark’s during training ,, means only chamchas and with connections, will rank high in the final list. This is open invitation to mother of all corruption,, as suggested by a politician.

  5. Why not simply ,let the candidates decide their category of application before taking exam itself. Then do not allow shifting. That means if reserved candidates want to apply from open category , welcome it,, but then he should not be allowed to go back to reserved category to avail better seat. He has to decide before exam and once and all. Otherwise it defeats the purpose of reservation.
    Regarding assessment Mark’s during training ,, means only chamchas and with connections, will rank high in the final list. This is open invitation to mother of all corruption,, as suggested by a politician.

  6. Sir I am 16’years old but I am pripering upsc 2027. Because I am like to offecir.and I will like
    To ias.sir me one youngest ias ya ips banana chata Hu . sir you can help I am study
    In standard 10 the . Please sir can you help me
    Sir .my name is Manish.🙏🏻.

  7. Since independence, tell me a single department working without frequent changing of its rule and regulations . Why this is do?? The core values of any department is intact and still robust which was made by Britishers. For example railway, defence, income tax, but we Indian started degrading the sanctity and glory of Institute just because of our own greed and shorter profit. There is a basic problem with us. Till the time the true sense of satmev jayate is not adapted the situation will be worsening. But remember change will take a heavy toll.

  8. In may news it is mentioned that the daughter of Loksabha speaker got IAS, if it is true then my question is that. How can she got IAS through waiting list?, as most of the IAS post are filled by the higher rankers even if there is any vacant post of IAS then that post may be allotted to the lower post held by the candidate selected in first list in this way she can not get IAS through waiting list unless there are hugh vacancies of IAS.

  9. First they reduce the post in SSC CGL & now they are playing in this UPSC post… Thanks to Modi I hope he doesn’t sell india to anyone else….. Modi hai to munkin hai,,,, I was about to start preparation, after seeing this it looks like I have to work harder.

  10. Being coveted posts there is considerable anguish in the candidates left out -not only this year but earlier as well. Hence, the government should make the selection policy flexible without reducing the number of candidates selected from reserved categories . All those whose score is more than the candidates from reserved categories should also be accommodated .

  11. What’s nonsense happening in Democratic Country like India , why this all again and again nonsense happening for, caste comparison. Why can’t there be no rule to clear the exam, other than hardwork .

    This all non sense should stop . We are in 2021 .

    • Merit. Okay.
      Historical injustice led to what you call reservation.
      It should be there.
      I don’t know if you watch everything from a biased lens or you just envious of people getting opportunity because of reservation.
      Don’t do this general-unreserved-melodrama.

    • Mam this is India our democracy lives in the respiration of caste minority reservation creed
      Which makes our nation always unrest and we Indian citizens losen our faith towards our neighbour and thus our leader rule over us with their families. They are looting and we are clapping

  12. The problem is well explained. However, the possible solution is poorly analysed for its pros and cons.

    One solution being out forward is that marks during training be considered. However, it is a poor solution. If marks during training become a factor in deciding services, then political forces will likely enter into service allotment. Those favouring a particular party’s ideology will be explore ways to get higher marks in training by influencing internal exams. In fact, it will result into the candidates actively seeking political influence right away in the training itself.

    Note that While Civil Services exam is highly monitored and free of favoritsm, the same cannot be said for marks allotted during training. Therefore, there is a high chance of service allotment itself getting politicised. It would be worse off than what we have today. Today, at least service allotment is based on transparent process.

  13. Education is the backbone of a country’s progress. It is like a magic that the daughter of the speaker of loksava had been selected by theUPSC when the commission published the second list of additional candidates and the daughter of the speaker barely managed to get enlisted her name despite she appeared in IAS exam for the very first time without having any knowledge of competitive exam and interview. She got selected in the world’s most toughest exam which more than a million of aspirants dreaming of to be passed every year but hardly a few of them have been able to qualify the exam. Is UPSC also sold out? It is the consequence of ‘ MODI HAIN TO MUMKIN HAIN’. There should be an examining committee to investigate the matter. It is the question of country’s education,quality and future. It is not a matter to trivialize.

  14. number of candidates in waiting list is decided based on how many candidate of reserved category have cleared general cut off. Number of reserved category student selected with a score above general category cut off same number of candidates will be kept in waiting list for both general and and reserved catagory student. For example if a ST candidate has cleared general cut off then 1 general candidate and 1 ST candidate will be kept in waiting. If selected ST candidate gets his preferred choice in general seat then ST candidate from waiting list will be recommended later and if ST candidate(one who cleared gen cut off) get his choice with category seat then general category will be recommended from waiting list.
    Overall I just wanted to tell that gen waiting list is longer because it is equal to total cadidates in other category.

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