- This article is not meant for sentimental fanatics – either this side or that side. This is meant for only reasonable, practical human beings – which I believe any common man is.
- Views expressed here are personal. Forgive me for anything wrong here.
This is first in a multi – part series. As I started writing, I realized this issue is so long and involves so many aspects that it would not be feasible to put it in single article. Request you to please wait for the other parts before firing the gun.
Toppers come and go every year. Many earn many well deserved distinctions over their lives, but unfortunately I have already earned one – though out of circumstances totally beyond my control. I am the MOST HATED topper in recent memory. They call me Macaulay Putra… So here is my reply…
Issue # 1 Faulty Translation
There can be no argument against the demand that translation should be proper. Improper translation is an injustice and should not be there. However, as I said in the disclaimer, lets not be fanatics – either this side or that side. Lets look at the issue being reasonable human beings which I believe a common man is.
I decided to myself take a look at some UPSC CSAT papers. Request the Andolankaris to please tell me where did “Steel ka paudha” and “uttari khamba” appear in any of the CSAT papers as claimed by them.
Then I moved on to the GS mains papers and did find some discrepancies which the Andolankaris were citing. Example, the famous PPP translated as “gair sarkari bhagidari” (GS Mains Paper 3, 2013).
The translation is improper, no doubt. But tell me one thing – which hindi medium student of graduate level (graduation is the minimum qualification requirement for giving the exam!) today will not know what PPP is? Look at the hindi version of the question… PPP is given in brackets right next to “gair sarkari”. The hindi medium student doesn’t even need to look at the English version to see that the question is on PPP. Its given right there – right in front of her eyes. As I said, lets not be fanatics, lets be reasonable, practical human beings. So is this really an injustice of such gross magnitude as was being pointed out by the great andolankari leaders on the TV?
(Side note: Andolankaris say UPSC uses google translator to translate English into Hindi. I tried to do the same with PPP and the result is below! Google translator would have given the correct translation at least in this case :-p)
Anyways, its not always that the Hindi translation is worse. Look at the example below (GS Mains Paper 3, 2013). I remember this because I was an idiot and found the English translation very confusing and so wrote about multi brand FDI’s impact on India’s foreign trade and got it wrong. On the other hand, the Hindi version of the question is very clear on what it asks.
In the same paper (GS Mains Paper 3, 2013), there was the another famous andolankari example of land reforms being translated as “aarthik sudhar” (see below). Clearly the translation is wrong (actually they didn’t translate it as aarthik sudhar, they simply missed out the word bhumi and left only sudhar) and changes the meaning of the question. Even though land reforms is very easy English and one could simply read the English version in case of confusion in this case, but I understand in exam conditions, reading the other medium version is not practical. Appropriate policy should be framed to compensate Hindi medium students who attempt such questions.
Carrying on the same translation issue, another demand of the andolankaris (source: Vikas Divyakirti’s post on his timeline) is as follows:
The underlying grievance behind this demand is that when translated from English, the Hindi version loses the original “bhaav” (idea/intention) of the English version. So the passage becomes very mechanical for the Hindi students. I decided to read all the Hindi passages of 2013’s CSAT paper. I am sorry, I found that the original idea/intention was understandable from the Hindi passage. I did face difficulties, but they were not in understanding the bhaav of the passage, but in understanding various difficult Hindi words. And this is not any fault of UPSC, those translated words are correct – pure Hindi. The real problem is that these pure Hindi words are so difficult! In the name of purification of the language, our Hindi linguists actually took the language far away from the common people. Its their fault due to which Hindi medium students are suffering in this case. The translations would have been much easier to comprehend for the Hindi medium student if they had been in her language – which is “Hinglish”. Tell me, even in villages people today find it easier to say motorcycle or railway station or bus or file today or their Hindi versions? And here we are talking about graduates! If we can’t give Hinglish translations, then we should at least give the corresponding easy English words in brackets right next to the difficult Hindi words (like the PPP example above). That should take care of the grievance. Let us not be fanatics – lets be reasonable and practical.
Obviously there is nothing wrong in having original text in Hindi and then the translation in English if the translation is made easy. But the point is the need for it won’t arise if issues in present translation are fixed. The other suggestion in the image above that the passages in Hindi and English be different albeit of same difficulty would add an element of subjectivity and controversy in the paper and hence should be avoided if other solutions can be found.
Issue #2 Difficult Maths, Giving Unfair Advantage to Engineers / Doctors / Science Students
First of all, let us not mix Maths questions with Reasoning questions. Maths is separate and reasoning is separate. There is no Maths in finding out mere chacha k mama ki ladki ka beta mera kya lagega. This part deals only with Maths issue, reasoning will be dealt with separately.
Then I decided to look at the CSAT 2013 paper to see how much and what level Maths is asked. I found a total of 16 Maths questions asked (out of which 5 were graph interpretation) – Q 28, 35, 36, 49, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 60, 61, 62, 64, 65, 66. Lets not talk in air and look at the difficulty level of these questions.
This is a basic LCM question, something which is taught in middle school, if not earlier. It is also present in any standard book for CSAT preparation and I believe no serious UPSC student who prepared CSAT, would not know this concept. The groups meet every 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 days, we have to find the LCM of this which is 60 (6 is divisible by 2, 3 so we don’t have to worry about them. 5 and 6 multiple is 30 but 4 doesn’t divide 30. 30 * 2 is 60, 4 divides 60, so great our LCM is 60 – with just basic multiplication we have got this. 180/60 is 3, so our answer is 3).
This is again a very basic question. Net speed between thief and policeman is 2 km/hr (10 – 2 as they are running in same direction). In 1 hour, 2000 m distance would have been reduced (net speed is 2 km/hr). Distance between them is 100 m which is 1/20th of 2000 m. So time taken would be 1/20th of 1 hour = 3 min.
We can go on and on like this, the point is barring 1-2, most of these Maths questions are really simple questions the likes of which can be found in any basic CSAT book. If one can prepare the difficult constitution, history, geography questions but not these simple ones in one year of her preparation, I am afraid it has got nothing to do with the inherent difficulty in these but the flawed priorities / lack of will power / laziness on the part of the student.
I can very well understand that many students may not like Maths and hate doing it. But this is no excuse for not studying it. I never liked marketing in MBA and absolutely loathed it – there is still that feeling of instant repulsion in my mind when I recollect what was written in those marketing books and what was taught in those classes. But still inside the IIM, I got the highest marks in the entire batch in each and every single quiz/exam taken in all the marketing courses I had to do in the first year and my marketing CGPA was 10.0 – higher than my Finance / Economics CGPA.
Issue #3 Logic Questions in CSAT
These questions test the basic IQ / intelligence (as we commonly define in day to day language) of a person. There are two kind of opponents to this portion of CSAT among the Andolankaris. The first raise question marks over the very necessity of having logic based questions in the exam. Read the following 2 comments (Source: FB pages of Chhatra Adhikar Manch / Vikas Divyakriti)
This person tries to raise stakes by saying that because earlier CSAT wasn’t there, so does this mean earlier civil servants were less intelligent? Also don’t we have faith in the IAS training institute? We can always train the selected candidates later in logic and reasoning.
To the first argument, I would like to give an analogy from the world of cricket. Earlier there was only test cricket and then came one day cricket and now 20-20. Now for the first 20-20 world cup held in 2007, when the team was selected, it was selected based obviously on one day cricket performances (because there was no 20-20 cricket before that). But does this mean that those players we selected for 20-20 based upon their performance in one day cricket were necessarily bad at playing 20-20? No, right? Because 20-20 or one day, it is still cricket. Both are related. If one is good in one day cricket, there is a fair probability she would also be good in 20-20 cricket. So many good 20-20 players were selected this way.
But is this the best way of selecting team for 20-20 for subsequent world cups also? A BIG NO!! A better way is obviously to select 20-20 players based on their 20-20 performances because it directly tests their 20-20 skills. As time passed, we began to have more 20-20 tournaments like IPL and can now select our national 20-20 team based upon 20-20 performances. So while we were throwing up many good 20-20 players by earlier selection process, the later selection process is definitely an improvement. We can’t argue against the later process by asking were the earlier players bad! Coming to our case, while the earlier process threw up many intelligent and high IQ officers, the newer process is still an improvement because it tests the intelligence/IQ more directly! Of course, if one believes that IQ / intelligence is not a required trait for civil services, then I have no answer.
Taking up the next argument that we can train the officers later for logic in LBSNAA (IAS training institute), I would say this argument can be extended to any and all subjects / skills. Why test polity then, we can train the officers in polity in LBSNAA, why test economy we can always train them later! Why have an entrance exam at all then!! :-D
The person in the following comment negates the need of such questions by arguing that people who get selected this way are good in clerical skills but poor in administrative skills.
To the above line of thought, I would simply apologize and say, I don’t know which research in the world proves this correlation, let alone the causation, that people with higher IQ lack administrative skills.
Then the second kind of opponents to these questions do accept the importance of testing logical abilities of the candidates but only question the high number of such questions asked (and hence higher weightage in the selection process). Following post by Vikas Divyakriti is an example of this thought.
He goes on to say the following… (increase weightage of questions based on administrative decision making)
Well, how much weightage should be given to which section is a subjective matter. Everybody will have a different opinion on it. So please let the experts decide on that – not the students.
Issue #4 Is it Really Hindi vs English?
As you can see above, the Andolankaris from the beginning of the protests itself have projected the issue as a language issue. Apart from explicit language based posters like above in their rallies, they have time and again said that Hindi medium selections have dropped drastically after the introduction of CSAT. They have been saying that the situation was so bad this year that only 26 Hindi medium candidates were selected out of 1122 total selections.
The Andolankaris know that language politics sells in India. That is why they projected it as a Hindi (and other regional languages) issue from the beginning. They were successful also. Major Hindi electronic and print media aired many programs / articles projecting it as a discrimination against Hindi issue as they wanted. Many politicians took notice too and some even took part in their rallies. In the below pictures you can see that the student groups like ABVP and NSUI are even leading the protests now (when many Hindi medium aspirants – who have actually filled this year’s form and intend to appear for the exam – are themselves busy studying for the exam)!
Interestingly, look at the following post by Vikas ji on his timeline after the government decided to scrap those 8 English questions for which no Hindi translation was given.
This is really amusing. Right from the beginning, Andolankaris themselves projected it as a Hindi vs English issue (to gain media and political support) as the above pictures show. The posters clearly show the andolankaris tried to make a sentimental appeal in the name of language. And now when your projection misfired and the government didn’t give you all you wanted, you are blaming it on ‘the other side’ that they were trying to kill your andolan by wrongly projecting it as a language issue!! I understand that if one reads all your demands he/she can understand that its not a language issue, but cm’on you yourself projected it like that.
Anyways, citing the falling results of Hindi medium students merely proves correlation, and not causation. Yes less Hindi medium students are getting selected after CSAT, but may be this is not because they are Hindi medium but because of some other factor which they may have in common. It is a known fact that most engineering, medical and management courses are in English, so this implies that most Hindi medium students are from Humanities. May be Hindi medium selections are falling because they are from Humanities and not because they are from Hindi medium.
I think this is the case. This issue is more of a humanities vs engineers / doctors / science issue. But of course, you knew this would not get you the political support and media attention, that is why you chose from the beginning to project it as a language issue. Now that the milk has turned sour, please don’t cry.
TO BE CONTINUED…