Tuesday, August 05, 2014

UPSC’s CSAT Row: What existing civil servants have to say

UPSC Headquarters
ON MONDAY, the Central government gave in to the pressure of protesters and section of political parties when it announced the English comprehensive skills included in the UPSC’s preliminary examination, won’t be counted for gradation or merit. But, protesting aspirants were still not happy. What they want now is the scrapping of the entire Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT), arguing that this new test format discriminates against those hailing from rural background. BoI here picks out comments posted in social media sites by a few serving and retired IAS officers:

Arvind Padhee, Odisha’s culture and tourism secretary and 1996 batch IAS said in a social media site that he was upset with compromise of standard. This is what Padhee tweeted: “Many colleagues hv qualifid d CS w/vernacular language as 1of their optionls n yt comfrtbl w/Englsh. #UPSC row. Upset w/compromise on stds”. On Saturday, before the government actually took the decision, Padhee argued that the most meritorious and the very best should be selected. “Let d most meritorious and 'very best' be picked thru d screening test. #UPSC row. Feel sorry for protesting stdnts showing unruly behaviour,” he tweeted.
Another Odisha cadre IAS (1999 batch) Shubha Sarma too was upset with the unruly behaviour of the protesters. “#UPSC admit card issue- those aspiring to be law-makers turn into law-breakers. #Stonepelting. What next? Guns in exam halls”, she tweeted on July 25.
A Didar Singh, former IAS and currently secretary general of industry body, Ficci, tagged a television report in Twitter to exclaim: “Maybe next step, scrap UPSC Exam itself!”
And DIPP secretary and 1980 batch IAS Amitabh Kant highlighted a Twitter comment of one Sisir Gupta to ask: “Is true that UPSC agitation is funded by tutorial colleges? Do we want to reduce IAS/IPS from elite services to dumps?”
But the most exhaustive analysis on why the UPSC exam pattern must not be tinkered with at the dictate of the protesters, was presented by Karnataka cadre IAS Srivatsa Krishna who was the civil services topper in 1994. In an editorial page article in Times of India last week, Krishna writes:  “If someone cannot solve 10th class maths and reasoning, they certainly should not find a place in India’s civil services at all. These are tested in almost every serious examination in the world, are essential to assess one’s scholastic skills and are absolutely critical for civil services. They hit at the heart of rote learning.”
In fact, Krishna himself cleared examinations such as GMAT, GRE, IIT and PhD entrance, but he concedes, civils is by far the “toughest” exam, and also “most demanding, emotionally and intellectually”.
Krishna further argues in the same article how civil servants are required to read company’s balance sheets, engage in valuation for public sector privatisation, analyse data for policy interventions and do simple math for profitability analysis. “All these require an analytical and logical mind, which needs to be tested at entry,” he argues.
So, where is the case to scrap the CSAT altogether, as is being demanded by protesters and supported by a section of political parties?


  1. Those civil servants, who qualified earlier without CSAT, were not intelligent enough!.

    The focus of Agitation is regarding "Why CSAT"?

  2. The focus should be on two tiers of education , first one (majority) dependent on government schools and Mid Day Meal scheme for completion of their education. Second ( and minority) whose parents pay (despite paying taxes) for education of their children.

    And then our Indian society expects the two streams to compete together (with support of reservations) in Civil Services Examination.

  3. new world requires new changes. the next thing you'll ask were not Indians ruling without civil services exam earlier then scrap the exam let's run the way we ran country 2000 years ago.

  4. And what about the privilege of making changes in examination pattern?

    Why only those having fortune to be in Delhi be eligible to have this privilege without giving any chance to those who are in Patna?

  5. With most of the AIS services using pull and push to go back to their home state on deputation, why not do away with the civil services examination altogether?

    PCS officers can manage respective state efficiently and please their political masters successfully!

  6. As claimed on this website (babusofindia.com), Mr Srivatsa Krishna, is not an Engineer (qualified IIT/ GRE etc). It is evident from his Executive Record sheet of DOPT available at http://persmin.nic.in/ersheet/MultipleERS.asp?HiddenStr=01KN030802, it is clear he is from the humanities background. Request to the editors- please dont write unauthenticated statements on this website.

  7. Srivatsa Krishna is an IIT graduate. DOPT website lists only his post graduate qualification.

  8. Srivatsa Krishna did the Oxford AEP, Harvard Business School MBA, PhD at IIT Madras and IIM, Bangalore, Stanford Post.

  9. and What are his achievements so far as an IAS
    (apart from writing articles in different newspapers in praise of IAS)?

  10. He has done excellent work in Andhra Pradesh in the IT department? President, Nasscom mentioned some of it in a recent interaction with officers at LBSNAA. In Karnataka as IT secretary, in 8-9 months he has done excellent work with a new IT and biotech policy! startups and innovation. Excellent officer who has the guts to speak his mind, unlike most others.