We have a right to know!
Updated: May 5, 2021
Please take a few minutes and read through this as this affects you directly!
Everyone (including me) has an opinion on how to write effective answers for the Mains stage of the Civil Services Examination. There is nothing wrong with having an opinion but the fact of the matter is determining the basis of having that opinion. We have absolutely no empirical or statistical evidence stating this is what the UPSC is looking for in an answer!
Every year, my industry (civil services coaching industry) rolls out answer writing programs costing thousands of rupees adding to the already existing burden on the student. While in an open market there is nothing wrong with creating a product to fill a gap, the larger question remains, 'How do you know this is a good answer'? On top of this, the questions are increasingly becoming more opinion based and more analytical with every passing year. How does one write an Ethics case study answer on a complicated administrative issue with any knowledge of what should be the right answer as per the UPSC?
As a result, some guide students on how to write answers based on how our prior students wrote drawing a correlation to the marks they got. Some even say they have inside information on how UPSC corrects answers which is honestly a stretch beyond imagination. Complex meanings of question forming words such as the difference 'Elaborate' and 'Elucidate' are decoded and given to students as diktats. My only question is how do you know!
Legally speaking, an institution facilitating public employment on a subjective criteria must disclose the very criteria so that everyone has equal access to the public employment!
It is honestly a very simple issue : subjective answers corrected by people will always have a degree of subjectivity and the only way to bring in some transparency is to know the parameters used to standardise the process!
This needs to stop and this needs to stop now! You and I have a right to know.
As a teacher of Polity and Governance, it is my foremost duty to try everything I can to bring in transparency to the very exam I coach students for!
In strict conformity with Due Process of Law and Procedure Established by Law, I am taking the following measures :
A RTI request has been filed with the UPSC asking them to disclose evaluation parameters/marking schemes/reference answers for the 2019 Mains Exam. (Attaching a receipt below) This is done for two reasons. One, the 2020 process isn't over yet and the jurisprudence laid down by the Hon'ble SC is very clear to not interfere with the recruitment process until the process is over. Two, exhaustion of legal remedies is a prior condition before furthering any consequent legal action.
Depending on the reply to my RTI request, an appeal would be filed with the Central Information Commission.
Post the outcome of Central Information Commission, if the need be, I would be filing a Public Interest Litigation at the Supreme Court asking for remedy and relief.
Please understand the following :
I will bear all legal costs including the ones to hire Designated Senior Advocates as that is often seen to have more gravitas and would like to leave no stone unturned.
I would also appear in person whenever possible and advisable.
A summary of all arguments to be presented in any hearings at any appellate stage or otherwise would be communicated to you via the website and the Telegram Channel.
I will never ask for any monetary support whatsoever from the student community as this affects you and as much it affects me.
I will never ask for any of you to submit any legal documents in support of the case just to be on the safer side as I would not want to put your career in any jeopardy.
I do not have any organisational support on this, and all actions taken here are in my individual and professional capacity.
The reason for writing this to you is to keep you informed every step of the way!
I know this is a long shot and I know it is easier said and done, but we have to try! A decade or so ago, we did not even get answer keys to the Prelims Exam, now we get those and an open portal to showcase any discrepancies we may find with the Prelims questions after the exam is conducted. There is no harm trying! Lastly, I am not trying to be a hero or a crusader. I just want us to learn and teach honestly.