The Union Public Service Commission has taken a decision to postpone the civil services preliminary exam “until further notice”. The exam was scheduled to be held on May 31.
According to officials in the UPSC, a call will be taken on the new date after “assessment” by May 20. A meeting of the Commission, chaired by UPSC chairman, Arvind Saxena, was held on Monday to take the call to defer the exam with senior UPSC officials. The decision comes after the Central government extended the lockdown for two weeks starting May 4.
“UPSC has done what needed to be done,” said an official privy to the developments. “In the current scenario, where Covid-19 is spreading, it is not feasible to hold such a large scale exam.”
The Commission, the official added, has not taken a call on a fresh date for the prelims. “The date will be decided in due course of time after evaluating the situation,” the official added.
“The decision has been taken keeping mind the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown restrictions". A fresh date will be announced after May 20.”
“From inaccessibility of exam venues during lockdown as schools had been turned into quarantine centres, to ensuring students had enough time to book tickets to reach the centres, the UPSC had to address a host to issues to be able to hold the exam on May 31. It would have been very difficult ”.
The Commission was due to release admit cards for the students this week, but has decided to defer the process in view of the current crisis.
Nearly 10 lakh people register for the civil services preliminary examination every year. Nearly 1.6 lakh functionaries participate in conducting the exam across 2,500 centres.
Many other premier exams, such as the Haryana Civil Services, which was slated to be held from June 5, have also been postponed.
Former UPSC chairman, Vijay Singh, said that the decision may delay the recruitment process a little but it is not worrisome.
“We have to keep in mind not everything has been postponed as of yet,” said Singh. “The preliminary exam is a huge exercise carried out in a number of centres. The logistics are vast and expansive with people involved across the country. UPSC can’t afford for anything to go wrong, it has to maintain its reputation and the exam has to be conducted in a way that no doubts are raised about it.”
“All that may happen is that the recruitment process may be a little delayed but that’s not a really big deal.”
But the lack of clarity regarding a new date brings a new set of anxieties for aspirants who believe that the preparation time for the main examination may be reduced.
“The uncertainty is worrisome, but, at the same time, I am hoping for positives since it will give aspirants more time to study,” said UPSC aspirant, Snigdha Talapatra, 25, who will be writing her second attempt. “It’s probably going to happen in August or September. I sincerely hope we will not be given lesser time to prepare for the Mains. Studying for prelims also entails studying for Mains for most us, though.”
There is usually a three month gap between the civil services preliminary and main examination. Last year, the preliminary exam was held on June 3, while the main examination, that usually lasts a week, started on September 20.
“The situation is so dire that the decision to postpone the exam was inevitable.”