‘Kerala’s unimpressive show in UPSC exam due to low standards of higher education, poor English skills’

At the all-India level, less than seven aspirants from Kerala figured in the top 100 in the 2020 examination.

Multiple factors, including low standards of higher education in Kerala and poor English skills, have been contributing to the underperformance of candidates from the State in the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) civil services examination.

At the all-India level, less than seven aspirants from Kerala have figured in the top 100 in the 2020 examination. The results, which were declared last week, showed that only 40 out of the 761 candidates have been recommended for appointment to IAS, IFS, IPS and Central Services, Group ‘A’ and Group ‘B’.

Former Ambassador and author T.P. Sreenivasan said that the main challenge of candidates from Kerala was their poor English, written and spoken. “Those who live outside Kerala and those in medical and engineering colleges do better because they have better English language skills,” he said.

Given the pathetic state of higher education in the State, he said that Kerala was doing well. “During my time, the figure never exceeded 15 every year,” said Mr. Sreenivasan of IFS 1967 batch.

He also said there was a tendency for many coaching institutes to spoon feed questions and answers without giving a broad education. “Many who teach in these institutes are those who have failed many times. This is taking shots in the dark. If an academic approach is used, they will do well. But the candidates prefer short cuts,” he said.

Number of applicants

Former Ambassador Venu Rajamony, an IFS batch of 1986, felt that a number of factors go into particular individuals or groups succeeding in the civil services. This includes the sheer number of applicants, the ecosystem of aspirants and coaching institutes and the quality of educational institutions. “A place like Delhi scores very highly because it has all the above and on top of it, people from all over the country go there to study and appear,” he said.

Mr. Rajamony, who is now a Professor of Diplomatic Practice at O.P. Jindal Global University and also Officer on Special Duty to Kerala government (external cooperation), said that there was no point in feeling disappointed that the numbers were not better. “Rather than taking the approach of coaching institutes who worry only about the success rate, we should focus as a State on improving the quality of higher education, infusing confidence in our youth and exposing them to local, national and world affairs so that they succeed in anything that they attempt,” he said.

N. Prasanth, Managing Director, Kerala Shipping and Inland Navigation Corporations and former Collector of Kozhikode, who secured the 4th rank all-India in 2006, said that the mindset of Keralites towards civil services examination should change. “Only people in Kerala look at civil services as playing second fiddle to politicians. Across the country, governance is controlled by the political executive. This happens in medical or engineering services or any other sectors. Also, IAS as a permanent executive is actually sharing power with the political executive, to shape policies and take decisions,” he said.

Certainly Kerala has a good pool of talent for civil services. “They should be guided, encouraged and imbibed that civil services is the easiest path to social transformation,” Mr. Prasanth said.

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