Sudarshan News Editor-in-Chief Suresh Chavhanke, on Friday, 11 September, aired a bulletin on ‘UPSC Jihad Par Ab Tak Ka Sabse Bada Khulasa (The Biggest Expose of All Time on UPSC Jihad)”. The bulletin talked about how the public service exam was structured and functioning in a way that favoured the Muslim community.
After issuing a notice to the channel, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on Thursday, allowed the broadcast of the show, saying that Sudarshan News had assured it that the show would not violate the programme code which is binding on all TV channels. The ministry also said that if any content on the show violates the law, action will be taken against the channel.
Let’s fact-check the claims being made by Chavhanke in the one-hour show on ‘UPSC Jihad’.
But, first let’s understand that dividing the candidates on the basis of religion is incorrect as UPSC does not release its result or any of the notifications on the basis of religion.
Rather, the candidates are divided on different reserved communities such as General category, Other Backward Classes (OBC), Scheduled Caste (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST) and so on.
Claim 1: Benefit in Upper Age Limit
Chavhanke claims that Muslim OBC’s get a benefit of three years in the upper age limit over non-Muslims candidates or General category candidates appearing for UPSC.
What’s the Fact?
Now, let’s see what the guidelines related to age limit actually say. UPSC’s 2020 notification that was released in February mentions that a candidate in the General category should not have attained the age of 32 years on 1 August 2020.
It further lists relaxations in upper age limit for candidates belonging to SC/ST, OBC, etc. For SC/ST, the relaxation is up to a maximum of five years, which means, till the age of 37 years.
For OBC candidates, the relaxation is up to three years, which means, till 35 years of age. These rules apply to all the candidates belonging to backward classes and not to Muslims alone.
In the same notification, a note mentions that if a candidate belongs to SC/ST, OBC and is also covered under categories of ex-servicemen, persons of benchmark disabilities, among others, he/she will be eligible “for grant of cumulative age-relaxation under both the categories.”
However, there is no mention of any cumulative age relaxation if a candidate is a Muslim and an OBC. Rather, there is no mention of any religion per se.
Claim 2: Benefit in Number of Attempts
At 42:02 minutes, Chavhanke says, “Jab mere OBC bhai ke category mein ghus kar koi pareeksha deta hai, toh uska kitna asar hota hai...jab hamaara general category mein pareeksha dene vaala vyakti hai usko 6 attempt karne ka mauka milta hai, aur jo Muslim, us benefit ke kaaran, 9 attempt dene ka fyada usko milta hai.”
(Translated: When somebody enters OBC category to take the exam, so what is the effect...person taking exam in General category gets six attempts, and Muslim, because of the benefit, gets the advantage of appearing 9 times.)
What’s the Fact?
The February 2020 notification mentions that each general category candidate is indeed permitted six attempts at the examination.
It further mentions that the candidates belonging to Other Backward Classes are allowed as many as nine attempts.
Thus, while there are some categories of persons who can get nine attempts rather than six, the numbers have been falsely linked to religious identities.
Claim 3: Interviewer Says Muslims Given a ‘Different Treatment’
At 20:35 minutes, Chavhanke shows a “mock interview” wherein an interviewer can be heard saying, “Your interview would not be an ordinary interview...There are many reasons for this. One reason is your age and the other is your community.”
Chavhanke then questions that why is it said that “your” interview will be “special.” “Is it related to the community getting more marks in the interview? If not, then give an answer,” he adds.
What’s the Fact?
Essentially, mock interviews are carried out to prepare students for the actual interview, which is something that even Chavhanke clarifies in the bulletin. He clearly says that it’s a “mock interview and not an actual interview,” but then goes on to make his assumptions based on this mock interview.
Now, let’s talk about this mock interview in particular. We heard the entire mock interview uploaded by a private agency Drishti IAS academy on 22 August. The interviewer does make the statements shown by Chavhanke in his episode, however, the interviewer has more things to say. This is exactly what he says at 30:54 minutes:
“Your interview would not be like an ordinary interview. There are many reasons for this. One reason is your age and the other is your community. Very less Muslims candidates get interviewed and we tell almost everybody to be prepared for this. This has advantages and disadvantages.”
He mentions certain challenges that the candidate might have to face in the actual interview. “You will have to face the prejudices in the minds of the board members. These prejudices can be regarding your age and sometimes regarding your community,” he adds.
He clarifies that these community prejudices might not be negative always, they could be positive, too, but “they view sometimes differently.”
Claim 4: Coaching Centres Set Up in Muslim Universities to Favour Muslims
At 47:38 minutes, as a part of the list of “favours“ being given to the Muslim candidates, Chavhanke mentions that former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh set up five coaching centres for UPSC. “Out of these, four of them were set up in Muslim universities,” he added. He asks why not set them up in Mumbai University or in a university in Chennai.
What’s the Fact?
The five universities Chavhanke is talking about are: Jamia Millia Islamia University (JMI), Jamia Hamdard University, Aligarh Muslim University, Maulana Azad National Urdu University, and Bhimrao Ambedkar University.
The coaching centres were indeed set up in these universities, however, they weren’t established to benefit Muslims alone.
According to an article published on The Print, former University Grants Commission chairman Ved Prakash, under whom the five coaching centres were set up, said that the aim was to increase the representation of backward castes and minorities in civil services.
“It was felt that minorities and people from the SC, ST communities are not fairly represented in civil services, hence the coaching centres were started in five universities,” he added.
Even a notification dated May 2019 published on JMI’s website mentioned that the university’s Residential Coaching Academy (RCA) provides free coaching to candidates belonging to “minorities, SCs, STs and women (of all communities) for Civil Services (Preliminary-cum-Main).”
Evidently, some of the claims being made by Suresh Chavhanke in his bulletin are either false or taken out of context.