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UPSC candidates want exam postponed, govt says ‘too early’ to decide




The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) headquarters in New Delhi | Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint
The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) headquarters in New Delhi | Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint

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New Delhi: With less than two months to go, anxiety is looming large among lakhs of candidates appearing for UPSC’s preliminary exams for civil services due to the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdown, which they say has derailed their preparations.

Several candidates are also running online petitions urging the government to postpone the exam, which is scheduled for 31 May.

Taking up the issue on Twitter Friday, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor tweeted that he has been deluged with queries regarding the schedule of the exam.

“Each year about 9 lakh students appear for the coveted UPSC exams to join the prestigious civil services. But so far no aspirant has a clue whether the Preliminary exam will go ahead as scheduled on May 31st or be postponed. @DrJitendraSingh please clarify, am deluged w/queries!” he tweeted.

“This is a very crucial time for candidates,” said Prithvi, a civil service aspirant from Hyderabad.

“It is in the last two-three months that candidates take tests at coaching centres and do the final preparation…The lockdown has been a jolt because of which candidates have been unable to do anything,” he added.

However, the UPSC is yet to take a call on the issue.

“It is still too early to decide on postponement,” a senior UPSC official told ThePrint on condition of anonymity. “Right now, the commission is working with the bare minimum strength…The officials even go to the office on rotation, so there is no decision on postponement of the exam.”

According to a DoPT official, once the lockdown is lifted, the commission will be in a better position to gauge the situation.

“The exam will be postponed if there is a need, but right now with more than a month to go for the exam, it is still too early to say if that kind of a need will arise…The government will keep candidates in the loop,” he said.

Also read: UPSC allows application withdrawal, but it is unlikely to deter ‘casual’ IAS, IPS aspirants

Covid-19 pandemic, lockdown hampered preparation

Meanwhile, several candidates are running online petitions to urge the government to postpone the exam.

According to these aspirants, a number of candidates enrolled in coaching classes and hostels to prepare for these exams, however, due to the lockdown, several of them had to return home due to the lockdown. This severely hampered their preparation.

One of the petitions on says, “We, the aspirants, support our government and its efforts in tackling this pandemic. However, adequate attention must be paid to our issues as well.”

“UPSC Prelims requires dedicated preparation of 3-4 months and looming uncertainty over extension of lockdown is hampering our preparation,” it states.

“Anxiety and stress is preventing us from performing at our best. We feel our health is at risk if we are made to write exams during this pandemic,” the petition adds.

Over 9 lakh candidates prepare for the UPSC Civil Services Exam, which selects officers for the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), India Police Service (IPS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS) and Indian Revenue Service (IRS) for the country every year.

Approximately, 700-800 candidates get selected for the 20-plus civil services eventually.

Also read: Muslim IAS-IPS officers’ Covid-19 appeal to community: Don’t give anyone reason to blame you

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Andhra doctor, suspended for alleging PPE shortage, now beaten by cops for ‘creating nuisance’




doctor with a stethoscope
A doctor with a stethoscope (Representative image) | Pixabay

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Bengaluru: A doctor with a government hospital in Andhra Pradesh, who was suspended for questioning the shortage of PPE kits, was admitted to a mental health facility Sunday, a day after he was allegedly manhandled by the police and arrested for creating nuisance in Visakhapatnam.

Dr Sudhakar Rao, a government civil surgeon, was beaten, his hands tied behind his back and dragged by police officers Sunday. During the incident, Sudhakar allegedly verbally abused the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in an inebriated state. Videos of the incident have since been widely shared online.

“The police control room received a call about a person creating nuisance on Beach Road Hospital in Visakhapatnam. The Fourth Town police was rushed there and found that the person was the suspended doctor, Sudhakar.

“When the police tried to control him, he snatched the mobile phone of an officer and threw it away. He is suffering from mental disorder and he was drunk. He was sent for a medical examination,” Vishakapatnam Police Commissioner R.K. Meena told the media Sunday.

Sudhakar was admitted to a mental hospital Sunday after doctors at the King George Hospital in Vishakapatnam said he suffered from anxiety.

“Since the doctor is in anxiety and talking irrelevant things, I have referred him to a mental care hospital in Visakhapatnam,” said Dr Radha Rani, medical superintendent, King George Hospital.

A statement released by the hospital said: “Dr Sudhakar was brought to the KGH casualty ward at 6.30 pm. From the smell, it was found that he was in a drunk condition. Under the influence of alcohol, he did not cooperate with anybody there and kept abusing all. Still, his pulse, BP were checked. Pulse was 98, BP 140/100. Blood samples were sent to forensic lab to ascertain alcohol content in his blood.”

Also read: 6 toilets for 20 houses, inadequate testing: Why Mumbai’s Worli chawls are a Covid hotspot

‘Treatment towards Sudhakar was inhuman’

Sudhakar, who spent more than 10 years at the Narsipatnam Government Hospital in Andhra Pradesh, was suspended from his duties in March after he openly criticised the Reddy government for failing to provide PPE kits and N95 masks to doctors treating Covid-19 patients.

He had alleged that the state government was giving N95 masks and PPE kits meant for doctors to politicians and the police.

A video of Sudhakar criticising the government was also shared widely. In the clip, he can be heard saying: “We are putting our lives at risk here. We are asked to use the same mask for 15 days and a fresh mask will be provided only twice a month.”

Speaking to ThePrint, Dr P. Gangadhar Rao, member of the National COVID Committee of the Indian Medical Association, said the manner in which Sudhakar was manhandled by the police was “inhuman” and “violated” human rights.

“We strongly condemn the way he was taken into custody. He was not carrying a weapon, he was alone, the number of policemen outnumbered him. Why treat him like that? We also saw a video where a policeman beats him with a lathi,” said Dr Gangadhar.

He added that Rao was one of the most experienced anaesthetists the Andhra Pradesh government had.

“Our next step of action is to get Sudhakar to write an unconditional apology for having used filthy language, abusing the chief minister and the government. We will then take our appeal to the CM seeking that he be reinstated,” Gangadhar said.

Also read: Face shields, gowns, masks — the new attire for cabin crew post lockdown

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