This article featured in Competition Success Review in their March edition
After successfully introducing changes in the Civil Services Preliminary Examination 2011, the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) is now looking at bringing about some changes in its Main Examination pattern as well. The scheme of Civil Services Preliminary Examination has been changed from 2011 as per the recommendations of the Alagh Committee, the Second Administrative Reforms Commission and an Expert Committee constituted by UPSC under the chairmanship of Prof. S.K. Khanna (Ex-Chairman, UGC). The changes in the Preliminary Examination have been well received, as they provide the candidates a level playing field leading to improvement in the quality of selections.
Consistent with the need for selecting the right kind of persons from the huge pool consisting of multiple languages, creeds, culture and communities, UPSC has constituted a high power committee to suggest possible changes in the pattern of the Civil Services Main Examination. UPSC Chairman Prof. D.P. Aggarwal, on the third UPSC foundation day, said that “UPSC is to insure that all the candidates are judged on the basis of indepth knowledge and understanding, rather than information gathered at the last movement”.
The Committee of Experts appointed in December, 2011 by the UPSC will review the existing structure of Civil Services Main Examination and will suggest necessary changes. The committee will consist of the following members :-
|1.||Prof. Arun S. Nigavekar, Ex-Chairman, UGC;||Chairman|
|2.||Shri Yogendar Narain, Retd. IAS, Former Defence Secretary, Government of India;||Member|
|3.||Shri Prakash Chandra, Former Chairman, CBDT;||Member|
|4.||Prof. Pankaj Chandra, Director, IIM, Bangalore;||Member|
|5.||Prof. Priyankar Upadhyay, BHU;||Member|
|6.||Shri R.N. Datta, Former Chairman, PWC South Asia and India;||Member|
|7.||Additional Secretary, DoP&T, Govt. of India;||Member (Ex-Officio)|
|8.||Additional Secretary, UPSC||Member Secretary|
The terms of reference of the Committee will be as follows.
(i) To identify the desired profile including the skill sets for the Civil Servants to enable them to deliver good governance in the fast changing domestic and global socio – economic and technological scenario.
(ii) To study the various selection methods currently in vogue globally for selection of Civil Servants.
(iii) To propose appropriate mechanisms and methodologies for selecting candidates with desired profile and skill sets indicated in (i) above suited to Indian context for the next decade.
(iv) To recommend a system for evaluation of the effectiveness of the selection methodology adopted by the Commission and the periodicity in which corrective action, if any, may be made in the selection methodology; for ensuring that it keeps pace with the changing requirements of the services.
(v) To recommend the role of the Commission in the assessment of performance of the candidates recommended by it during and at the end of the mandatory training period and in particular, where such assessments have the effect of altering the initial merit order recommended by the Commission as also where it is proposed to extend or terminate the probation of a direct recruit on the basis of unsuitability for Civil Service.
Any other issue, which the Committee may feel relevant to the process of selection of Civil Servants for the country, or which may be referred to the Committee by the Commission.
For its functioning, the Committee will devise its own procedures and it may set up such study group and take assistance of such experts as it may consider necessary in consultation with the Commission.
The Committee will submit its report within six months from its formation.
In my opinion, while suggesting the changes in the pattern of the Civil Services Main Examination, the Committee will look into the previous reports, particularly the Alagh Committee Report and Second ARC Report. The Alagh Committee, which was constituted by the UPSC in 2001, dealt elaborately with the changes in the pattern of the Main Examination. The Committee proposed to replace the optional subjects with a set of compulsory papers designed to test a broad spectrum of knowledge, skills and attitudes which would be more relevant to the requirements of entrants to the higher civil services. Each of the perspectives will lay the foundation on which the designated training academies for the civil services will build the necessary knowledge-base, skills-set and the desired attitudes required in the high demanding life of civil servants.
The candidates are tested and awarded a degree for the specific discipline by the universities. This serves as the entry point for them to apply for the civil services. The compulsory papers in the Mains examination will aim towards helping candidates widen their perspective so that they show a degree of readiness for entering a career in the service of the nation. Prospective civil servants cannot have a narrow or limited understanding of a particular discipline. They should be able to comprehend the factors which are relevant to the society to be served and display a level of understanding as may be expected of those desirous of entering the civil services. They should have sensitivity to current issues and debates, and know of some of the attempts of the government and civil society to address these issues and problems.
Given these aims, the papers should be such that they test the interest and the readiness of the candidates to work for society with some understanding of what they will face. The focus of these papers, therefore, should be to cover issues related to our society, social structure, political, technological and administrative governance, emerging areas of change – social, economic, political, and modern developments in science and technology as they affect society. More importantly, they should reflect (i) the ideals and values enshrined by the Founders of the Constitution, and (ii) total commitment to the most disadvantaged sections of our society.
The students who are preparing with the present scheme of Main Examination are worried not about the changes in the Main Examination pattern, but about when the changes will be implemented. Changes could be incorporated from the year 2013 or later. Basically, UPSC has not officially indicated at any date of implementation of changes yet.
In my opinion, the term of reference of the Expert Committee suggests that it will be a time taking process. If we look at the previous changes introduced by the UPSC, they were quite slow in implementation. So, I suggest to the Civil Services aspirants they should not worry about the changes and the time of changes, instead they should focus on preparing for the exam on the basis of present pattern.