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UPSC language row turns political

Protests by Civil Services Examination aspirants, alleging discrimination against regional language students, were echoed in Parliament on Friday, leading to some disruption of proceedings.

Students intensified their protests, with many marching towards Parliament; they were detained by police. Two metro rail stations, Central Secretariat and Udyog Bhavan, were shut briefly to prevent protesters from assembling near Parliament.

The protesters found support from political parties, especially regional ones such as the Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Janata Dal (U) and DMK. The latter alleged discrimination by the Union Public Service Commission against Hindi and regional languages.

The government tried to assure MPs that it would not allow any injustice or discrimination towards students on the basis of language. Jitendra Singh, minister of state for personnel, who attempted to placate tempers in the Rajya Sabha, said the government was looking at the issue with ‘all seriousness’ and ‘sensitivity’. He stated a three-member panel had already been set up and was to give a report in a week.

He urged for ‘patience’ but Opposition benches noted the exam was slated for August 24 and UPSC had already started issuing admit cards.

Students are demanding that the Civil Services Aptitude Test be scrapped. They say it gives an unfair advantage to English-speaking students, putting Hindi and regional language aspirants at a disadvantage.

JD(U)’s Sharad Yadav objected to the government stand that it was a UPSC decision. He said Hindi language students were being discriminated against and the number of those from Tamil, Telugu, Hindi and other languages who were successful in the exam was dropping steeply, while those with English had almost doubled.

BSP chief Mayawati told reporters the government was not concerned about the students. The Lok Janshakti Party’s Ram Vilas Paswan, also a Union minister, said his regional party was always in favour of Hindi language supremacy over languages like English.

SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav raised the issue in the Lok Sabha. While Rajya Sabha proceedings were disrupted twice, the other House functioned as scheduled.

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