On Civil Services “Attitude” Test
Of late there has been lot of brouhaha, politically speaking, in the media as well as the Lower and the Upper Houses of the country regarding an examination to test the aspiring Civil servants of the country. I am first and foremost a teacher; however, I delight in the training/application aspect of my job. The first question I had when the controversy erupted was that this bone of contention between the ruling regime and the Opposition, played out through innocent (and as it appears insecure) aspirants, is it really worth the merit according to all that is being alleged?
Let us go for the brass tacks. My readers I can safely assume, are mostly all literate. Let us look at the following multiple choice questions (MCQs), shall we?
* Variations in the length of daytime and nighttime from season to season are due to:
a) Earth’s rotation on its axis
b) Earth’s revolution around the sun in an elliptical manner
c) Latitudinal position of the place
d) Revolution of the Earth on a tilted axis
* Acid rain is caused by the pollution of environment by
a) Carbon-dioxide and nitrogen
b) Carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide
c) Ozone and carbon dioxide
d) Nitrous oxide and sulphur dioxide
* Out of 120 applications for a post, 70 are male and 80 have a driver’s license. What is the ratio between the minimum to maximum number of males having driver’s licence?
a) 1 to 2 b) 2 to 3 c) 3 to 7 d) 5 to 7
* The tank-full petrol in Arun’s motorcycle lasts for 10 days. If he starts using 25% more every day, how many days will the tank-full petrol last?
a) 5 b) 6 c) 7 d) 8
These are from CSAT 2013. Read them through and you will understand that even if you do not know the answers off the cuff right now “ whatever be the reasons “ your class X or class XII self would most probably have. And, I have no doubt in mind that if you know anyone who is still going through the rigours of High School, you would expect him/her to know them, or at least know a way to work them out, if not make an intelligent guess. Therefore, for these Civil Services aspirants who are supposed to know their subject at the bachelors level and at the masters level to oppose the test on the basis of level of difficulty, lack of skills in the English language smacks of an attitude that we commoners already accuse babus of having: complacency, lack of competitiveness, an unhealthy sense of entitlement, and the most corrupt tendency of all – resistance to change.
This sadly proves that the people turning into lowly anarchists on our streets are perfectly made for the status quo sort of bureaucracy, which is now a self-protecting mechanism. It also makes me question the sincerity of the political backers of this motley crowd. Those who are arguing for the sake of regional languages should be probed: how many of our politicians’ children go to schools that depend on regional languages as teaching medium?
As for the level of difficulty, I have already settled it, haven’t I?
Language has emerged a major issue of late, perhaps also since the new government has decided to do all its business in public in Hindi. As I see it, this indeed is a tough one. So, here’s my two-bit. Our regional languages, our mother tongues are a beautiful legacy to be cherished and protected and developed. However, it is also a fact that English has seeped into our culture over close to 400 years. We cannot accept all other cultures and reject just one.
Besides, the march towards English is happening all over the world. In France, in Germany, in Italy, in China as we all know. And all this is thanks to the overwhelming convergence provided by an IT-enabled world. In today’s world, English is necessary. Suppose we achieve a nationalistic ideal by ensuring that almost every Indian has acquired basic language skills in one particular national language be it Hindi or Tamil or for that matter Bhojpuri or even Sanskrit “ whatever the people decide in a magical surmounting of all differences, we will more likely than not, still need English. That is to do business with the world without becoming the biggest market for interpreters and translators.
Therefore, it is nothing wrong to expect our babus to have basic comprehension skills in English, a language that quite literally unifies the world; especially in a country where even a day labourer sets aside around 50% of his income to send his children to an English-medium school. This outrage should be directed at our primary education system that fails to equip our children with skills to survive in a dynamic, challenging environment. As a training professional, I would rather imagine that having basic language skills in a common language should help immensely to boost efficiency at work.
As for those who caused damage to public property and whose protests inconvenienced the common man, they should be stricken off the list of applicants and barred from taking the exam for good, for adults with little respect for public property or convenience shall certainly do injustice to this elite force.