New Delhi : Candidates for the civil service exam on Tuesday renewed their agitation against the “piecemeal” solution offered by the NDA government to resolve the CSAT row even as the Union Public Service Commission, an autonomous body, put down its foot and rejected the government meddling.

The Modi government had proposed on Monday that the controversial English comprehension questions in the CSAT paper need not be factored in while preparing the grades or the merit list. But a day before the government came out with its solution, the full bench of the UPSC met on Sunday and decided against tweaking or scrapping the the CSAT examination scheduled on August 24.

The meeting attended by all ten members and chaired by UPSC Chairman Prof. D P Agrawal decided that it being an autonomous body, they should not be “submissive.”  The only concession was that they agreed to offer the aspirants another chance, especially those who had exhausted their six attempts before 2011 when the new CSAT format was introduced.

The UPSC had conveyed its decision to the government and was surprised when Dr Jitendra Singh, Minister of State for Personnel, announced in the House that the section dealing with English comprehension will not be counted while calculating the marks.

The government’s confusing proposal may become in fructuous unless the UPSC clears it, and as of now the UPSC is not inclined, an UPSC official said.

Prof  Agrawal, who is determined not to compromise on the system meticulously worked out, is due to retire as the UPSC chairman next week on August 14, the day Parliament ends its session, and he is most likely to be succeeded by Rajni Razdan, a former secretary in the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances.

The students as also the opposition MPs are demanding postponement of the CSAT preliminary by a month or scrapped altogether, but the UPSC has ruled it out, pointing out huge logistical problems and the likely plethora of litigations further complicating the matter.

There are two compulsory papers of 200 marks each in the preliminary examination. These papers are also known as CSAT-I and CSAT-II. It is the CSAT-II paper that carries questions on comprehension and inter-personal skills, including communication, logical reasoning and analytical ability, decision making and problem solving, general mental ability, basic numerical and English comprehension skills.

The UPSC has yet not agreed to the government’s “solution” but if it yields, 20 marks kept for English comprehension will be dropped and the merit list will be drawn up on the basis of the candidate’s score out of 380 marks — 200 in CSAT-I and 180 in CSAT-II.

As an UPSC official explained, the civil service exam that the UPSC conducts for selection of candidates for nearly 60 all-India services, including IAS and IPS cadres, is a long-drawn affair. It is spread over 14 months of three tests, first the preliminary, then the main exam, and lastly interviews. As such, postponement of the preliminaries as demanded by the agitators will derail the process for ever. Dates of all three exams will have to be changed and that may affect those turning 32.

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