Civil services examination aspirants affected by syllabus changes between 2011 and 2015 protested outside the Bharatiya Janata Party headquarters early on Tuesday afternoon. They also demanded three additional attempts with age relaxation.
A group of students from all over the country submitted a petition outlining the ongoing problems and their demands to Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Jitendra Singh.
The nationwide competitive examinations have been criticised in the past few years for frequent changes in the syllabi. Many of these changes have detrimentally affected rural and non-English speaking candidates, the students claimed.
Sumit Dalal, a student who participated in the protest, said: “If inclusiveness is the target of the government, then it has failed. Following the introduction of the Aptitude Test in 2011, the number of humanities candidates and Hindi students decreased by over 50 per cent.”
The student protestors further cited constitutional obligations to maintain a fair and non-discriminatory examination policy.
“More than 10 lakh students have been affected by these short-notice amendments. Many students resigned from previous jobs and came to Delhi to study for these examinations. Everybody sacrificed their careers for this dream job. We have studied for many years now,” said another aspirant Praveen Kumar.
The gathering followed a similar protest of nearly 100 students on December 14 in front of Mr. Singh and Department of Personnel and Training Secretary Sanjay Kothari.
Questioned by policemen about the intentions of their petition, many expressed frustration at the system.
“We are not asking for jobs, just fair attempts,” said Alok Kumar, a candidate of four years from Jabalpur.
Shiranji Das, another student, further acknowledged that future syllabi changes were possible, and she would protest against them too. Organised gatherings began in earlier this year in response to the unexpected removal of a preliminary examination paper three months before the exam.
Despite the setbacks, the group of students remained hopeful. “We are very optimistic about Tuesday’s meeting,” said Sumit Kumar.
(The author is an intern with The Hindu )