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Once again the age limit is scheduled to be reduced? Is it hampering students to plan well?

Civil Service Examination is conducted to select candidates for the various All India Services and the central services. These services are entrusted with the responsibility to realize the objectives of good governance and fulfil the dreams of social, economic and political justice as enshrined in the constitution. Every Year lacs of candidates appear for the comprehensive examination of which very few make into the final merit list. It is the dream of many to get into these services and serve the people. UPSC considering the suggestions of the government places certain eligibility creteria regarding age, number of permissible attempts for different categories, qualification etc. which acts as the first stage to filter out candidates who can appear for the exam.

The preparation for the reputed examination requires efective and sincere planning. Many aspirants start to plan from the very initial levels and decide which course they should graduate in accordingly. Many students make up for civil services during or after graduation, and many prefers taking up jobs for initial years after graduation before appearing for the exam, if the eligibility creteria permits. Some candidates, who are financially poor, go for jobs to earn enough to finance preparation expenses including coaching, materials and like. So, eligibility creteria plays a very significant role in strategising path for the exam.

The Government, as per the speculations, is going to reduce the age limit complying with the recommendations of the 2nd ARC recommendations. The very premise, apart from administrative efficiency is that normally students complete their graduation by 22 and three years would be sufficient to crack the exam. The premise doesn't consider some significant facts. Apart from overlooking the strategy part, it is biased against many people who being financially compelled either don't complete their graduations on time, or complete their education in phases suffering many drop-outs.

The decision to overlook strategy is again horrible. By implemeting these changes with an immedite effect, the government will drive out many innocent contenders and prospective contenders out of the comptetion. Those who are in jobs, pursuing post graduations and other related courses, and have thought for taking up this exam will suffer the worst blow.

What can be more worse than the fact that the governmnet had few months ago raised the age limit and attempts for different categories allowing prospective candidates to plan and pursue their strategies comfortably. If administrative efficiency was to be decided by the age factor, why didn't the government consider it then?

Though ARC report must have given such recommendations based on adequate analysis of facts and figures. But immediate implementation is not the only solution available. The service is for the people, and driving several contenders out of the opportunity to serve not only will invite massive protest but will be to an extent unjust. Administrative efficiency depends on the depth and quality of training, and procedures for ensuring transparency and accountability. Efforts to further enhance these factors can also serve the purpose that is sought to be achieved by reducing age limits and attempts. Efficiency has to do very minimal with age, and those who are between 21 and 32, as per current permissible limits, already undergo a rigorous exam competing with each other and at last, the best ones are selected. The other premise that the graduation is completed by 22 that underlies the decision is indeed discriminatory to many. Any decision on such a sensitive issue must consider the interest of candidates, the efficacy of service delivery, and the responsibility associated with the civil services that can be fulfilled even by and individual who is 21 or 32 if trained effectively.

-Anurag Mishra

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