What are the protesting UPSC students demanding?
Much has been written about the on-going UPSC protests. Unfortunately, most of the narrative has conveyed an impression that the students are demanding
- That Hindi as a language becomes prominent in the UPSC papers
- English as a language should not be used
- Academic standards of the examination should be lowered (i.e questions should be made simpler).
This perception has caused a great harm to cause of these protests. What is even more stark is the fact that the students are not protesting for ANY of the above. Not many of us have made a sincere attempt to understand the real issues that these students are standing up for. Yet, almost all of us has made a perception that this protest will compromise the calibre of people that is required in the governance of our country. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
So what is it that the students are really demanding? In two words, Fair Representation. Fair representation comes in two forms.
- Ability for non English speaking students to have a fair chance in the exam (currently the screening & scoring mechanism skewed in favour of those who speak English)
- The exam to be fair to students from Humanities background as well (currently skewed in favour of Science & Math students)
- For the qualifying comprehension – the quality of translation puts the folks taking the test at a disadvantage as the meaning gets distorted in translation and therefore students get their answers wrong
- For the language understanding paper – the level of English tests and the level of hindi tests when chosen as a second language are not the same. So students taking English as first language and hindi as second have an advantage over students taking regional language as primary and English as second. In the former case, students can score higher as the level of hindi is quite basic. In the latter case the level of English is high and students fall behind the former set.
That it. This is what the students are protesting for. They neither want simpler papers nor do they want to compromise with the standards. They simply want fair representation. Read this excellent article, where the author, by the way of examples has highlighted these further.
Now, you decide. Is this a fair ask? Does this, in any way, compromise the standard of bureaucrats?
Aam Aadmi Party believes that the students are taking up a just cause. This is a necessary change to an examination system that reeks of colonial thought process and is now antiquated. Therefore, Aam Aadmi Party stands with the protests of the students. Where do you stand?