Several UPSC aspirants around the country are currently in Delhi demanding an extra attempt at UPSC or the Union Public Service Commission’s Civil Services exam. On Wednesday, last week, activist Yogita Bhayana along with five other UPSC aspirants and a lawyer had been detained after they reached the Home Minster’s residence and taken to the Mandir Marg police station in Delhi. The delegation wanted to meet the minister to discuss the possibility of extra attempts or age relaxation in the UPSC Civil Services Exam and said they had an official appointment.
Later on in the day, they were released and joined others who were present at Jantar Mantar. Their only glimmer of hope is an assurance by the home minister’s office that they will give them an attempt after passing it in the cabinet. Activist Yogita Bhayana told us that they have to wait for 2-3 weeks now. The winter session of the parliament is in progress and is likely to go on till the 23rd December.
We also spoke to Saraswati Sangvade, who is from Karnataka and is a civil engineer who earlier worked in Dubai. From one of the videos shared by activist Bhayana, on Wednesday, she can be seen questioning a woman cop on why they are being stopped from meeting the minister. Sagvade missed her attempt for the UPSC examination-2020 as she could not travel due to an international travel ban. She said that they have to wait for 21 days before they know what the authorities have decided. She has travelled from Karnataka is staying in PG accommodation braving the Delhi winters. Sangvade is worried about the threat that the new coronavirus variant Omicron poses. She added, “if there is no decision reached at the end of 21 days the winter session would end?”
Adding, “an aspirant needs at least six months of dedicated preparation to crack these exams. And that they need a resolution quickly.”
UPSC Civil Services Examination currently provides only six attempts to general candidates and the maximum age limit for them is set to 32 years. In wake of the pandemic, many lost the opportunity of performing well in their last attempt. Twitter has been trending with the #UPSCExtraAttempt.
The Government of India earlier informed the Supreme Court of India in February, 2021 about the “ex- gratia, one time, restricted relaxation” to candidates who appeared during the 2020 UPSC Civil Services Examination. However, later the government informed the apex court that relaxing the age limit for those who missed the examination will be discriminatory towards all candidates.
SheThePeople also spoke to a senior government official to understand what people who are part of these elite services feel about this call for an extra attempt. Our source confirmed that this is not an unprecedented demand. There have been times, like during the time of Mandal Commission in 1990s, when extra attempts have been granted. Extra attempts have been asked by aspirants due to pattern changes, political changes and now the pandemic. Further, our source added “if the government wants an egalitarian approach towards the Civil Services which happen to be the premier examinations in the country, I personally feel there is anything wrong in giving an extra attempt. The aim of the civil services examination is to attract the best of talents, to think of it some rare reason such as a pandemic, affects an entire batch of good aspirants their role in governance, is not fair. The business of running the country is not shouldered by a select few in the country, it has to be equally shared and equally divided by giving equal opportunity to everybody.”