Those calling for the scrapping of the Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) on the grounds that it favours those whose medium of education was English have got it wrong on two counts. First, the government announced on Monday that the English Language Comprehension Skills part of CSAT Paper II will not be included in gradation of a candidate's overall performance in the entrance exam. Second, and more important, India has two listed official languages: Hindi and English. So, all IAS and Allied services officers are expected to be competent, to a fair degree, in both languages.
The likes of Samajwadi Party and other so-called champions of the “rural candidates” seem to have forgotten that most disciplines at the graduate level, except the language subjects, are taught in English. So, a majority of the aspirants—given the threshold qualification for selection is graduation—are likely to be familiar with English which they can reasonably be expected to demonstrate in the CSAT. Besides, the language is a compulsory subject, even if not the medium of instruction, in the high school curriculum set by most state boards of education. Coming to the other objection raised, on the quantitative analysis portion of the exam, the argument that it favours candidates with technical degrees over those with ones in humanities falls flat given how the section calls for secondary school level competence, not graduation. Rural and urban candidates both would have demonstrated this at the matriculation level, so where is the question of bias? The objections, though, surely reinforce the need for raising teaching standards in these subjects at the school level.