UPSC extra attempt: In between unfulfilled dreams and hope of 'one more attempt'; what happened so far?

In the last two years, the UPSC candidates have seen it all. From candlelight vigils to police batons and numerous court cases - all in the hope of another attempt
Picture from UPSC extra attempt protest
Picture from UPSC extra attempt protestSource

In the words of American poet Langston Hughes, we ask, 'What happens to a deferred dream?' — for the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) aspirants: it explodes. Two years of fight, police batons, numerous protests and court petitions later, UPSC aspirants still hope for 'one more attempt'.

The aspirants keep their battle going with a fresh court petition and Twitter campaigns, refusing to draw the curtains on their aspirations.

As dates for the UPSC notification for 2023 inch closer, we look back at what happened so far. 

Demand for a constitutionally protected right
UPSC candidates who appeared for their final attempt during the pandemic have been demanding an extra attempt since 2021. Despite several petition filings and favourable recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee and the Supreme Court, the aspirants received no positive response from the Government of India and the Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT). Candidates assert that this is about their constitutionally protected right to a fair opportunity.

"The Disaster Management Act states that basic minimum relief must be given to those affected, and the government has all the power to do so. Thus, at least the ineligible candidates deserve an opportunity as bare minimum relief," said Amulya Animesh when he last spoke with EdexLive. 

Around 40,000 candidates have been directly affected by the pandemic. Several aspirants who spoke to EdexLive so far have reminded us of the compelling stories that few candidates have. Among them is Gaurav Thakur, the leader of the ground UPSC extra attempt movement for the last two years. He lost his father during the pandemic and appeared for his final attempt amidst that loss. Unfortunately, he couldn't clear it.

Similarly, Dr Vidya Singh, a doctor from the All Indian Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi, lost her attempt to being bound by the Essential Service Act during the pandemic.

"I have served my nation wholeheartedly during the pandemic. However, in that service, I lost my attempt. Now that I am demanding one compensatory attempt, I am being lathi-charged. However, we will sustain the movement till we get an attempt," she told EdexLive. 

What now? 
Like Dr Vidya and Gaurav, there are countless others. However, the final decision rests with Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi, who is the Cabinet Minister of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions. The PM is also the Chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority under whose order the pandemic was dealt with as a Notified Disaster.

More than 125 Members of Parliament (MPs) have written to the PM requesting to provide compensation for the UPSC candidates. Right now, the students are filing a fresh petition in the Supreme Court and might mobilise another protest at the end of the month. 

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