The Arvind Verma committee, tasked with examining the grievances of students against the Civil Services examination pattern, on on July 31 submitted its report to the government. This has paved the way for an early resolution of the UPSC row, with all indications pointing to likely relief for IAS/IPS aspirants protesting against the Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT).

According to sources in the government, though a final decision will be taken after examining the panel’s recommendations, the options include a possible review of the CSAT-Paper II pattern to reduce the weightage of questions relating to English comprehension and a simpler Hindi translation for all other questions. With a little over three weeks to go for the August 24 Civil Services preliminary exam, the government has to carefully weigh the option of postponement, keeping in mind that the answer sheets have already been printed and sent to examination centres, and the question papers are ready to be dispatched.

Senior government officials indicated that postponement at this late stage may not be easy as it would affect the Indian Forest Services (IFoS) examination schedule as well. The Civil Services (Preliminary) exam is common for IAS, IFoS and IPS etc, though the IFoS has its own Mains examination. Sources said the final decision on whether or not to review the August 24 schedule will be taken in consultation with UPSC, which conducts the Civil Services exam. UPSC is reportedly not in favour of a postponement of the prelims, already being held three months behind the 2013 schedule, as it would push back the Mains examination and interview schedule as well.

Even as babudom is convinced that the English comprehension questions (up to Class X level) are simple enough to be solved by those aiming for the country’s top bureaucracy, particularly when state-level exams such as UP State Civil Services test English up to higher secondary level, the political class is pushing for removal of any anti-Hindi bias in the syllabus. An option, government sources said, is to agree to a review of the CSAT pattern and syllabus while putting off its implementation until next year.

However, to make sure that this does not cost the students an attempt at the elite examination, the government may consider allowing an extra attempt with a corresponding revision in age criterion. The UPA government had, in its last days, allowed two additional attempts to Civil Services aspirants, besides suitably raising the minimum age. Many feel an additional attempt will be universally welcomed and may soothe the anxiety of students in case the pattern cannot be revised immediately.

Besides, it will give the aspirants adequate time to prepare as per the new pattern and syllabus. Lok Sabha was rocked by protests from Samajwadi Party, BJD and RJD who condemned the firing and lathicharge on students in the capital, leading to a statement by parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu.

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