Civil services coaching institutes are cautiously optimistic about the recent government’s decision to increase the number of attempts at the Civil Services Examination by two with corresponding relaxation in age-limit and expect UPSC, the constitutionally appointed exam conducting authority, to come up with further clarifications soon.
“It is a golden opportunity for students who had exhausted their number of attempts, however they will have to start preparations afresh and that could be pretty challenging,” said Sathish S, Director, VMR IAS Academy. Students at this institute demand greater transparency from UPSC. “Preparing for Civil services takes a very long time and frequent changes and updates can spoil our preparations. UPSC should provide information in advance about changes being considered,” said Pratik, a student at VMR.
Following the notification posted on the Department of Personnel and Training’s website declaring the grant of extra attempts in the month of February, this month the department has posted a circular further clarifying the approved changes. For general category candidates, numbers of attempts now are six, for SC/ST unlimited as earlier and for OBC candidates seven. The new age-limits are 32, 33 and 35 respectively. However, the coaching institutes in the city are still unsure. Managing Director of Shankar IAS Academy, Mr Chandru said, “The final UPSC notification will come out in May so I cannot really comment because we are expecting some conditions. By conditions I mean that maybe only those who have exhausted all their attempts will get extra attempts.” On the impact of these changes on aspirants, he said, “With the new pattern, it is very difficult for students because there is so much of uncertainty.”
Not all aspirants are feeling positive about the grant of two extra attempts which is the result of a number of protests by candidates in New Delhi. In January, Rahul Gandhi had assured a delegation of civil services candidates that the government will take necessary steps to address their grievances. The recent changes introduced in the examination, particularly the emphasis on English language was criticised by many as putting extra burden on rural candidates. “The UPSC had not given sufficient time to prepare for the new pattern. Many aspirants had asked the age limit to be relaxed and the government has finally responded, so that’s a good thing. But despite this, it is a not a healthy system because the basic objective of UPSC is to pick the young,” said Mr Sathya, Director, Sathya IAS academy. “For those who are experienced, who have reached the interview stage but not cleared it, it is good news. But for freshers, it is extra competition and extra burden and the level of competition has intensified because the seniors have now been allowed to give the exam,” he said.
Many candidates are apprehensive of the increase in competition. “Senior candidates will definitely have an advantage as they will not be preparing from level zero,” said Murali, a student at Shankar IAS. Meghna who has already appeared thrice for the exam thinks otherwise. “Under the new pattern everybody has to start anew. There is no question of an added advantage to those who had appeared for the exam under the old pattern,” she said.