Civil services exam has been entry point for Indians in civil services which plays important role in planning policies, implementing and monitoring them. It has therefore been one of the most sought examinations in India because of its charm as best of patriotic service to the nation along with the best of service conditions and opportunities provided.
How did it used to be?
In British era, at first, civil services examination was conducted in Britain only and for British civilians only along with civil services examinations for other colonies of Britain and Britain itself. After a long resistance to this practice by Indians, Indians were first included in the exam but it was still conducted in Britain only. It was only in 1870s that exam started to be conducted simultaneously in India also. At the end of British rule in India, there were more Indians in the services than British. At the event of Indian independence in 1947, the services were divided in Indian Administrative Services and Pakistan Administrative Services for India and Pakistan respectively.
What was the last change?
In 2011, in response to corruption charges against civil services officials, it was felt that scheme of exam be changed to bring in more deserving, personally and professionally integrated, and more patriotic candidates with higher level of intelligence and ethical standards. Therefore, instead of optional exam at prelims level, a Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) was introduced. Some small changes were also introduced at Mains level of the exam.
Impacts of the change:
It has been alleged by some native language aspirants that CSAT favored English language aspirants. Therefore there have been protests against the format of CSAT demanding removal of English language questions from CSAT while some have gone to the extent of demanding to scrap the whole CSAT exam altogether. Aspirants from south region of country have welcomed introduction of CSAT.
The concerns are with part consisting of English language questions and poor translational skills of Hindi speaking candidates. Various studies have shown that after introduction of CSAT, percentage of Hindi speaking aspirants clearing the exam has came down dramatically while those of English speaking candidates has gone up significantly at the cost of Hindi speaking aspirants.
You didn't answer my question:
The only thing that is permanent in the world is change. Changes in Civil Services exam are being demanded by various sections of aspirants while some are opposed to it. Changes in the format of the exam should be brought on basis of past experience and practices and not on the basis of pressure from one particular group or on political motivation. If a better examination scheme that allows filtering of the best of candidates who are both personally and professionally integrated and have high patriotic sense with good ethical values, then it should be implemented, but till then, deficiencies of the current scheme should be pointed out and acted upon as and when they appears. Any scheme for the examination is bound to be obsolete with changing times and thus a constant watch is required. As far as CSAT is concerned, it is well established fact that the level of examination is of Higher Secondary level, thus any serious candidate for ICS shall and will not object to the exam, because mere learning of facts and not implementing them should not be basis of selection for such a delicate service. The fact that English usage has increased and more and more communities are accepting it, even in India, its usage is ever increasing. The advent of technology is bound to increase its usage more, thus this should be learned well in advance along with our native languages for grasping newer opportunities generated because of globalization.