Assam civil service aspirants can write both prelims and main exams in Assamese

Assam has become the first state in the country to introduce the Permanent Resident Certificate (PRC) for aspirants to appear in the state civil services examinations.

Assam civil service aspirants can write both prelims and main exams in Assamese Assam Chief Minister (Source: Official Facebook Account)
Press Trust of India | Nov 28, 2021 - 3:40 p.m. IST
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GUWAHATI: Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Saturday announced that the state civil service aspirants can write both their preliminary and mains examinations in Assamese along with English, which was so far the only medium.

By virtue of the decision Assam has become the first state in the country to introduce the Permanent Resident Certificate (PRC) for aspirants to appear in the state civil services examinations, the chief minister told a press conference here. The PRC is mandatory for the admission of a student to several educational institutions, particularly in engineering and medical colleges in the state. The announcement comes close on the heels of the recent Cabinet decision to abolish Assamese as the qualifying language paper, a criteria which was introduced by the previous BJP government in the state in 2019.

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''It is time that the division of the society stops on the basis of Assamese and English medium education. Parents of students of English medium schools too pay taxes and so why should their wards be deprived from competing in the state civil services examinations? I appeal to all not to further weaken the Assamese society,'' Sarma added. Various political parties and organisations have criticised the Sarma government's move.

Hitting back, the chief minister said, ''Certain sections are criticising the government for the decision but nobody, including us in the government, paid attention to the fact that students of the state cannot write the civil service papers in Assamese whereas it is allowed in the UPSC examinations". He said that some youths had sent him messages on Friday requesting that they be allowed to write the state civil service examination in their mother tongue.

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"I discussed the matter with the concerned authorities and took the decision today that aspirants will be allowed to write their papers in Assamese''. About the abolition of the qualifying language paper, Sarma said that the earlier system was "unfair" for the students from the Brahmaputra valley, both from Assamese and English medium educational institutions as they had to appear for an additional paper. The aspirants from Barak Valley and the sixth schedule districts in the state were on the other hand exempted from this.

"The abolition of Assamese as a qualifying paper is in the interest of all aspirants from the state. Opposition parties, particularly the Congress, have no right to criticise as they had not introduced it. The decision on the qualifying paper was taken by the erstwhile Sarbananda Sonowal government," he said.

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Several Assamese youths had approached the Gauhati High Court on the issue and the case is still pending. The Court has asked the government to justify the introduction of a qualifying paper for some aspirants while exempting others. ''The advocate general told me that will not be possible to justify the introduction of a qualifying paper as it goes against the very essence of Article 14 of the Constitution ... The cabinet decision has been welcomed by the students,'' Sarma said.

The government has now introduced three conditions that will benefit the aspirants from the state, he claimed. "We have made it clear that the aspirant must be a resident of Assam, registered in the employment exchange of the state and must speak fluently either Assamese or associate languages Bodo or Bengali, or any other tribal language of the state and also Hindi as many people in the state speak the language'', he said.

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The APSC Rules were amended in 2019 according to which applicants had to appear for a compulsory language qualifying paper in Assamese or associate languages Bodo or Bengali, except for those from the sixth schedule districts. Following this, the Manipuri community of Barak Valley had appealed to the government that they should be exempted from appearing in the qualifying paper.

The government subsequently passed an order exempting all aspirants from Barak Valley from appearing in the qualifying paper. Candidates of the Brahmaputra Valley then contested this in the Gauhati High Court and the case is still pending. The court has, however, allowed APSC to hold the preliminary exams this year. The government will appeal to the High Court to vacate the case, Sarma said.


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