Merely two weeks before the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) Prelims 2020, students are seeking a postponement of the examination amidst the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Close to 20,000 students have signed an online petition to postpone the exam. Amit Panda, a student from Ballia district in Uttar Pradesh, who has signed the petition, told Moneycontrol that inadequate transport facilities are a major cause of concern.
“Many candidates like me have to travel several hundred kilometres to the main cities to write the test. Bus frequency is poor. How can everyone be expected to travel by private vehicles?” he added.
Panda explained that while the initial idea was to move the Supreme Court
(SC), he said that they were dissuaded by the past judgements that dismissed petitions to postpone JEE Main and NEET 2020.
Students have also submitted a plea to the UPSC to postpone the exam till the situation improves.
Every year, 1 million candidates appear for the prelims examination for entry into various administrative posts in the government. This year, exam is scheduled for October 4. The shortlisted candidates will write the main examination on January 8, 2021.
What are the concerns?
Moneycontrol spoke to a few aspirants who have sought a postponement of UPSC Prelims 2020. The major concern among these candidates is the lack of transport facilities and safety.
Gujarat’s 25-year-old Arpit Shah saw two family members’ death due to COVID-19. Shah said that there is no urgency to hold the exams.
“We are leading globally in adding new cases on a daily basis. What is the need to hurry and conduct UPSC exams now? Will the government compensate students if they test positive?” he added.
Shah also told Moneycontrol that Patna-based UPSC aspirant Priya Kumari has been on a hunger strike, seeking the postponement of the prelims for close to 10 days. However, Moneycontrol was not able to contact Kumari.
Questions have also been raised about what happens to centres that have now become containment zones. Also, since the health ministry rules on exams states that students from containment zones will not be allowed to enter exam centres, the fate of candidates from these areas is uncertain.
UPSC has not yet clarified as to what rules will be followed for students from containment zones or for those who have tested positive in the recent past.
Diwakar Sinha of Hazaribagh district in Jharkhand said that the state governments must be instructed to ply special trains during UPSC prelims.
“Jharkhand has less than 10 centres. This means that all students will have to come to main cities like Ranchi to take the preliminary exams. If exams cannot be postponed, the state government must allow public transport like trains and buses to run at full capacity or make special arrangements for students," he added.
The UPSC Result 2019 showed that only 0.1 percent of the total applicants were selected in the list released by the commission. A total of 800,000 candidates had appeared for the UPSC Prelims 2019, of which 12,000 were selected for the UPSC Mains Examination. Finally, 829 candidates were shortlisted after the interview.