Postpone UPSC Prelims2020
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We, the aspirants, hereby request the Government of India to postpone UPSC Prelims-2020 scheduled to be held on 4-October-2020 due to following reasons:
1) The number of cases of Covid-19 is not plateauing. For the past few weeks, India is leading the daily new cases charts.In these times of uncertainty where the cases has crossed 5 million mark and started spreading beyond cities, we feel unsafe to take up any assignment that requires movement beyond our native place.
2) Though the Hon.High Court of Karnataka showed empathy to the concerns of students, it allowed to conduct the KCET exams. The way those exams were conducted, revealed the terrible state of affairs. The standard safety practices which looked good on paper didnot translate well into practice. The pathetic situation of recently concluded COMEDK exams were no different in this regard. The same situation was noticed even in NDA exams.
3) The officials can sanitize exam centres n-number of times, but the candidates (and accompanying guardian) have to traverse through the secondary infrastructure whose sanitation level cannot be guaranteed (local transport, hotels for stay, buses/trains for primary transport). On an average 6 to 7 lakh candidates take up the exam and are accompanied by a guardian who is most probably a parent in the immuno-compromised age group of 52-60 years.
4) UPSC CSE is conducted in only in 72cities across the country. Since most of the students live outside the "City of exam centre", the time of interaction is not just the 2 hours of exam time, but atleast a day and half journey (including both transits). Had there been no exam, this time would have been spent in a relatively risk-normalised native place. Hence, conducting examination particularly at a time of Pandemic Peak which unfortunately coincide with the monsoon outset is unviable. Moreover, routine health disorders like asthma and minor respiratory irritations get exacerbated in the monsoon period. The ire of floods should also be considered. All these make the already grim situation more dangerous.
The age profile of UPSC aspirants ranges from 21years to 42 years. The female aspirants also take up the examination. The differently-abled aspirants too appear for the exam. The exam in pandemic poses additional problems in dealing with the unique needs of the aspirants
5) Unlike other entrance examinations, The UPSC exam process is a three-stage performance capture structure. After giving prelims, the candidate has to get ready for Mains within 90 days. Suppose if a candidate gets affected by Corona virus due to the prelims journey,a fortnight of preparation time is lost and it affects the chances of clearing Mains exam.Moreover one attempt count is lost. This is sheer inequity.
Moreover, UPSC Prelims exam is a two-part exam. Part-1 happens in morning session and Part-2 in afternoon session, with an intermittent gap of 3 hours, which is susceptible to flouting of social distancing norms
6) The treatment costs of Covid are nearly a million per patient. Moreover, post-Covid complications are on the rise. The bulk of UPSC aspirants come from the poor and middle class economic background
Already, some UPSC aspirants and their family members who were exposed to Covid are still suffering from the psychological trauma and subsisting side effects. This affects their performance. The Right to equal opportunity is blatantly violated. The aspirants with better economic resources are able to fight with the pandemic, but it is the bulk of poor/middle class aspirants who are facing the wrath of the virus
7) Many aspirants are already working as frontline Covid warriors and still combating with the pandemic. Conducting the exam on October-2020 will be highly discriminatory because they cannot focus on both the exam preparation and the discharge of duty. It will not be 'Just' to conduct exam at this juncture.
8) The scientific community is not cent percent sure of the side effects and re-infection chances of the pandemic. They are discovering new symptoms on daily basis. Many exam centres are already being used as Covid Wards. So, at this stage, it will be highly dangerous to lead the future human capital into an unknown abyss.
9)The basic objective behind a open competition based recruitment exam is to ensure parity and remove arbitrariness. But, in the given unprecedented situation, conducting the Prelims exam on the 'tentative' date of 4- October 2020 goes against every principle of Equity and Parity. This is against the very principle of Art-14 and Art-21 (Right to equality and Right to life)
10) UPSC CSE examination is unique from other exams due to following reasons:-
a) It is not a academic cycle based examination.It is a recruitment examination. Moreover, it is not a large scale job creating examination.
b) UPSC - CSE is a three layered examination. As mentioned in (5) above, the viral exposure has a ripple effect .
c) The examinees also include Covid warriors (Medical, Police, Lower-rung administration officials) who are fighting the pandemic till date. As mentioned in (7) above, the exams in covid will be highly discriminatory.
d) The success of any open competition based exam depends on the number of participants. Earlier exams in covid are witnessed high scale absenteeism. Most of the underprivileged aspirants worst hit by pandemic all the way avoided the exams, leaving the field open only for the elites. This is against the spirit of a 'Just' exam.
e) UPSC-CSE examinees are well exposed to the vagaries of life, hence fear of examination is a non-factor. But, the pandemic necessitates a prudent approach to life. On the date of notification, neither the aspirants nor the UPSC visualised the wrath of pandemic. None of us can eliminate the pandemic, but, its mal-effects can be minimized. Aspirants are not pressing for postponement every year. Unprecedented situations demand unprecedented solutions. We request that the authorities will consider these unique dimensions.
Hence we request the authorities to postpone the prelims exam schedule from the tentative date of 4-10-2020 to such other date where the aspirants can take exam without fear'. The study of various research agencies suggest that other countries which witnessed peaks earlier have started recovering from pandemic. India is on its journey to peak and will start recovering soon.
We wish the authorities consider our petition and ensure parity and justice in the selection process.
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