WINDS OF CHANGE
In the May Issue of Competition Success Review
There was a lot of speculation about the pattern of changes
in the Civil Services Examination since long, but no one was aware, as to when
and what kind of changes will be there? This speculation was ended by the UPSC
Chairman, Prof. D.P. Agrawal himself, while participating in the UPSC
Foundation Lecture Series on the “Governance and Public Services”. He
said that UPSC is convinced of the need for important changes in the method of
recruitment to the higher civil services. The Commission has recommended to the
Government that a Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) replace the
exiting Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination, he added. Confirming this
change for the first stage of Civil Services Examination, Minister of State for
Personnel, Mr. Prithvi Raj Chauhan told the Lok Sabha on 10th March,
2010 that Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh has approved the proposal for
introduction of CSAT in place of the existing Civil Services (Preliminary)
Examination. He said that CSAT is expected to come into effect from 2011.
As per the new pattern, at the Preliminary Examination
stage, there will be two objective type question papers common for all the
candidates. Both these papers will have equal weightage. The emphasis will be
on testing the aptitude of the candidate for the demanding life in
civil service, as well as, on the ethical and moral dimensions of decision
making. The upcoming scheme will have the advantages of : (a) testing
candidate’s decision making skills and aptitude for civil services, and (b)
providing a level playing field for all the aspirants, since all the candidates
will have to attempt two objective-type papers, which will be common for all.
To decide the exact content and syllabus of CSAT, UPSC
Chairman, Prof. D.P. Agrawal, has constituted a high power committee under Prof.
S.K. Khanna, former Vice Chairman, University Grants Commission, to work out the
details of the syllabus for two papers. The committee is expected to submit its
report by the end of April, 2010, after which UPSC will formally
contents of the syllabi of the two objective-type papers of CSAT stage.
For the first time, the Civil Service Aptitute Test (CSAT)
was advocated by Dr. Y.K. Alagh in his Civil Services Review Committee Report,
2001. He recommended major changes in the structure of examination system.
He favoured testing the candidates in a common subject rather than on optional
subjects. According the Alagh Committee Report the structure of CSAT contains
the following contents -
(1) Basic Awareness (Nation and the World)
The general awareness of current affairs having a bearing on
public life in India.
(2) Problem solving and analytical skills
Logical reasoning and decision making skills (Situations from
civil service arena be taken to test reasoning and undertanding of problems
related to the same).
(3) Elementaty Arithmetic
The above mentioned syllabus of CSAT was a proposal to UPSC.
The final shape of the syllabus will be decided after the Prof. S.K. Khanna
As of now, the change will be effective only for the first
stage of the Civil Services Examination. The nature and pattern of the second
and third stages, viz. Civil Services Main Examination and Interview will remain
the same. Most of the committees / commissions constituted by the Government/UPSC
have advocated laying greater emphasis on the apptitude of the candidates than
their knowledge of the subject, arguing that specialists or experts in any
particular subject, may not necessarily be a good civil servant.
The Second Administrative Reforms Commission has also argued
that the recruitment process, apart from being transparent, objective, fair and
equitable, should also ensure that the right type of persons join the Civil
Since the announcement of the change, there has been a lot of
discussion, and also fear & anxiety amongst the civil services aspirants
regarding the nature of CSAT. Ever since the announcement about CSAT. I have
frequently been asked questions as to what would be its pattern? Whether it
wiil be on the lines of CAT or MAT, or will there be a new format, altogether?
My advice to Civil Services aspirants is : Do not have any
adverse apprehension about CSAT. The basic difference between CAT/MAT and CSAT
is that the former is a test for admission to an educational course, that is
preparatory to a future job. Whereas the latter is a recruitment test, where
once successful, placement is guaranteed in a secure and stable government job,
and that too an elite one.
I feel these changes would impart the present scheme of Civil
Services Examination a fresh and new look, which was already overdue. At the
same time, the recommendations of this committee would do away with some other
anomalies as well, which were there in the existing system.
A final word! Whether or not this facelift of the pattern of the Civil
Services Examination gives a new direction and purpose to our bureaucracy, it
will definitely make the whole system of selection more objective, humane and
Courtesy: V.P. GUPTA RAU’S IAS STUDY CIRCLE