Today’s The Hindu Newspaper (18-11-2014) had a piece of important news in the front page which made lakhs of Civil Services aspirants panic. It was regarding lowering the age limit for the UPSC Civil Services Exam.
The news article ‘Centre to lower age limit for civil service aspirants‘, was based on the Central Governments decision to implement the ARC (Administrative Reforms Commission) recommendations for the same. Read the excerpt of the ‘The Hindu Article’ :
In a move that could affect thousands of civil service aspirants across the country, the Centre intends to reduce the upper age limit and number of attempts of applicants with effect from 2015. Going by the new norm, the upper age limit will be 29 years for SC/ST candidates, 28 years for OBC and 26 for the unreserved category.
Will Centre Lower Age Limit For UPSC Civil Service Exam to 26 years?
Of course, the newspaper article was based on a Government report, published in the official site of DARPG (http://darpg.nic.in/darpgwebsite_cms/Document/file/Decision10.pdf). The government had decided to lower age-limit and number of chances, agreeing to ARC recommendations. But checking the PDF properties, it becomes clear that the government report based on which the present news came is created on April 28, 2014. That was the time of UPA government. The report was prepared even before the UPSC notification for UPSC Civil Services Exam 2014. Later centre (UPA government) had amended the rules, and the 2014 notification mentioned an age limit of 32 and 6 attempts for general category candidates. There was further relaxation in other categories.
Then the NDA government was sworn in. There were a lot of protests in the street regarding the CSAT language issue. After the CSAT row, the NDA government gave an extra one attempt to all those candidates who attempted the exam in 2011 to compensate for the drastic change introduced in 2011. This comes as an additional attempt to what is mentioned above. Though UPSC is yet to notify this change, it is clear that there is no attempt to lower the age limit.
Why Hues and Cries now?
Probably the present case might be because of the unedited pdf, 6 months old in DARPG site. As the report talks about a government decision to be implemented by 2015, it is a matter of worry. We hope the new government will soon clear the air on this and will either take out the PDF or modify the PDF with relaxed age limits. The Hindu itself has clarified in another article that DoPT is yet to notify the change.
Why a lower age limit to appear for IAS exam is a bad idea for India?
The ARC recommendation of a reduction in age-limit does not seem to come from a proper understanding of ground realities. The argument for the lower age limit to entry was for easily trainable young blood. But there are various factors which favour the statuesque.
- There are thousands of youth who quit their well-paying jobs in the private sector to serve the nation, at ages 27+. The nation will lose the service of the best brains if centre imposes lower age limits. The best example to quote here is that of 2014 topper, Gaurav Agrawal, an IIT+IIM guy with work experience, who qualified civil services at the age of 29.
- Now the average age of entry to civil service is 27+. This is connected with the present socio-economic situation prevailing in the country.
- Candidates who come from graduation like MBBS, when they pass out, they are already 23-34 years of age. Imposing an age limit of 26 years is an injustice to them.
- Lower age limit will prevent many women from entering into the service. Because of early marriages existing in our society, many women get a chance to try civil services exam only at a later age.
- Lower age limit will act as a barrier for rural India to clear IAS exam and this will be against the principle of inclusion.
- Promotees who enter services after conferring IAS, IPS etc are often in their mid-40s and 50s. Considering such a case exists, the argument of easy training of young blood is not justified.
- Radical implementation of any changes from 2015 will only create protests. UPSC Civil Services exam is not just like any other exam in the country. As bureaucracy plays a major role in the future of the nation, merit and right selection play and crucial role. Age should never be the question in the selection, but only the merit.
What should aspirants do at this moment?
- Mains 2014 aspirants are advised to concentrate on their exams. Don’t get distracted by the news on lower age limits for IAS exam.
- There is very little chance that the new government will move ahead with this decision. As the issue got good media coverage now, we can hope that there will be clarity on this issue soon.
Civil Services Preliminary Exam 2015 Notification: Dates
- Date Of Notification: May 16, 2015.
- Last Date of receipt of application: June 12, 2015 (Friday).
- Date of Commencement of Exam: August 23, 2015 (Sunday).
- Duration of Exam: 1 Day
To the relief of thousands, Centre has clarified that it is not considering any proposal to reduce the age limit for civil service aspirants. Centre has issued a statement regarding the UPSC age-limit.