UPSC extra attempt: Aspirants hold candlelight march for 7 days, leading up to “Maha Satyagraha” march

The UPSC aspirants demanding extra attempts have been holding candlelight marches and poster protests in various parts of Delhi since November 19
UPSC Compensatory attempt protest | (Pic: Sourced)
UPSC Compensatory attempt protest | (Pic: Sourced)

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) examination aspirants, who have been protesting and demanding an extra attempt, launched an unending series of protest marches in various parts of Delhi on November 19. As per the schedule shared with EdexLive, candlelight marches will be held for seven days, leading up to a massive movement called “Maha Satyagraha” on November 26. “The Maha Satyagraha movement will continue till an extra attempt is announced. This is our way of building pressure on the government,” informs Nitin Kumar, an aspirant.

The schedule of the movement
On November 19, the candlelight march began in Old Rajinder Nagar, the hub for UPSC aspirants. The march will continue for the next few days in Wazirabad, Mukherjee Nagar and Gandhi Vihar, and will finally conclude on November 25 again at Old Rajinder Nagar. In between, on November 24, the aspirants will also stage a 'Poster & Road Painting' demonstration. On the eighth day, November 26 — also marked nationally as Constitution Day — the protesting students will launch their “Maha Satyagraha”. This movement will begin a series of protests that will not cease unless their demand for an extra attempt is granted.

What is the Maha Satyagraha movement?
The Maha Satyagraha movement will commence on November 26 near Karol Bagh metro station in Old Rajinder Nagar. “The chosen date was intentional; no better day than Constitution Day to raise your voice democratically,” says Amulya Animesh, another aspirant who has also been coordinating this movement and has been in charge of the legal front of it. The candidates also inform us that the movement has witnessed support from UPSC teachers this time and faculty members of a few coaching institutes also joined in one of their candlelight marches in Mukherjee Nagar. Saket Kumar reminds us, “Renowned professors have expressed their solidarity for our movement; however, most of them refrain from doing so directly since the last time they expressed their support during the CSAT issue, the IT department of the government raided their institutes.” (The CSAT issue refers to the protests staged by aspirants after the Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) was introduced in 2011.)

Why are the students staging protests? 
The UPSC aspirants who appeared for their final attempt in 2020, 2021 and 2022 are demanding an extra attempt and relaxation of the age. Owing to the conditions faced by these candidates during the pandemic, they demand this attempt as a “basic relief”. Amulya had previously informed EdexLive that nearly 40,000 candidates have been directly affected by COVID-19. As per the UPSC Covid Compensatory Attempt’s website, this movement represents candidates impacted by the digital divide, COVID patients, COVID frontline workers and more.

The Government of India and the Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT) have not responded favourably to the demands of the students, despite the numerous petitions filed by the students, recommendations of the Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice (DRSC) in favour of the students and the Supreme Court's advice to be lenient. Students have staged more than 25 protests since March 2021 for the government to consider their demands. “Our last protest was held in front of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Headquarters in Delhi. We sat there for more than 3 hours but got no response from anyone,” adds an annoyed Amulya. Nevertheless, since the Staff Selection Commission (SSC) GD Constable exam aspirants were recently granted an extra attempt and a one-time three-year age relaxation, these UPSC aspirants find some hope. “The election is also around the corner which further assures us that there might be a glimpse of hope,” adds Saket. 

An all-inclusive protest — new demands of the students
The candidates of this movement have also increased their demands to make the movement all-inclusive. The demands include an increase in the number of attempts by two and age relaxation of up to 3 years for all as compensation for the pandemic; an increase in the vacancies to fill the 23,000 opening in Group A; creation of an expert committee to investigate the effects of the 2010 CSAT Paper pattern and curriculum changes for applicants who do not speak English and are non-urban; finally, the demand for an assurance that the number of openings at the time of Prelims results should not change during the exam. 

Some 300 students have been participating in the protest march so far. On November 26, the aspirants expect at least 500 students. 

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