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UPSC civil services exam: No upper age relaxation for JK applicants this year

Press Trust of India

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New Delhi, Feb 12:  Unlike last year, there will be no upper-age relaxation for applicants taking the civil services examination 2020 who are domicile of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir between 1980 and 1989, according to a notification issued on Wednesday.

The age relaxation for other categories will continue.

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) has announced 796 vacancies in the country”s bureaucracy to be filled through the civil services examination 2020, which will be held on May 31, the notification said.

 

According to last year”s civil services exam notification, the upper-age limit of 32 years to take the test was further relaxable for up to a maximum of five years if a candidate had ordinarily been domiciled in the state of Jammu and Kashmir during the period from January 1, 1980 to December 31, 1989.

There is no mention of such age relaxation in this year”s exam notification.

The erstwhile J-K state has been bifurcated into two union territories– Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh — with effect from October 31, 2019.

“A candidate must have attained the age of 21 years and must not have attained the age of 32 years on the 1st of August, 2020 i.e., he must have been born not earlier than 2nd August, 1988 and not later than 1st August, 1999,” this year”s notification said.

This upper-age limit is further relaxed for up to a maximum of five years if a candidate belongs to a scheduled caste or a scheduled tribe; up to a maximum of three years in the case of candidates belonging to other backward classes who are eligible to avail of reservation applicable to such candidates, among others, it said.

The UPSC will recruit officers of Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS), Indian Police Service (IPS), Indian Railway Traffic Service (IRTS), Indian Railway Accounts Service (IRAS) and Indian Railway Personnel Service (IRPS), among others through the civil services examination 2020, the notification said.

This is probably the last time that the officers of IRTS, IRAS and IRPS are being recruited through the civil services examination after the amalgamation of the existing eight railway services into the one — Indian Railways Management Service (IRMS), officials said.

The commission may recruit IRMS officers from the next years onward. they said.

The number of vacancies to be filled through the examination is expected to be approximately 796 which include 24 posts reserved for persons with benchmark disability category, i.e. three for candidates of blindness and low vision; nine for deaf and hard of hearing; eight for locomotor disability including cerebral palsy, leprosy cured, dwarfism, acid attack victims and muscular dystrophy, among others, according to the notification.

“Reservation will be made for candidates belonging to scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, other backward classes, the economically weaker sections and persons with benchmark disability in respect of vacancies as may be fixed by the government,” it said.

The civil services examination is conducted annually by the UPSC in three phases — preliminary, main and interview.

The facility of withdrawal of application is available for those candidates who do not want to appear for civil services (preliminary) examination.

“UPSC has no provision to refund any fee amount paid by candidates, so in case of successful withdrawal of application the fees will not be refunded,” the notification said. Candidates are required to apply online. The deadline is March 3 till 6:00 P.M. after which the link will be disabled, the UPSC said .


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Decoding rot in education: Over 1100 cr in kitty, JK failed to conduct ‘out of school children’ survey

Nisar Dharma

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Srinagar, Feb 23: As much as the authorities say otherwise, the state of education in Jammu and Kashmir remains pathetic as key indicators show the government has repeatedly failed on improving school academic and management standards.

An official document of Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) showing the progress under the Samagra Shiksha scheme spills the beans.

To begin with, the authorities in J&K, as per the documents, have not conducted any survey to determine the number of Out of School Children (OoSC) since 2016.

 

The last survey, 2016-17, had listed 52500 Out of School Children.

“Rate of mainstreaming of out of school children in regular schools is very low. J&K has not conducted/updated survey of Out of School Children since 2016-17. There is an urgent need to have a renewed focus on universal enrollment, attendance, and completion of elementary education,” reads the MHRD document outlining the status of the Samagra Sikhsa scheme in J&K for the year 2019-20.

The poor performance in determining OoSC is just the tip of the iceberg.

When it comes to education indicators, the document reveals that 70 percent of upper primary schools have less than three subject teachers, while 90 percent of Secondary Schools have less than four subject teachers per school.

Moreover, the retention rate at secondary level, the document shows, is merely 56 percent.

“J&K may focus either on teacher’s rationalisation to meet requirements of the subject teachers or to recruit fresh subject teachers on priority,” the document reads.

The poor indicators are no wonder since at least 520 schools (both secondary and higher secondary) in J&K function without heads or principals.

“There are 418 Head Master/Principals’ vacant posts in Government Secondary schools and 102 in Government Higher secondary schools respectively which may be filled on priority,” the document.

This is besides the 3,952 vacant teacher posts in secondary schools across J&K.

When it comes to providing ICT tools for the students, J&K fares poorly here as well.

The document shows that as many as 455 schools in J&K have not implemented [email protected], a scheme that was adopted by the government of India in 1993.

The primary component of [email protected] is providing computer-aided education to secondary and higher secondary Government and Government aided schools, a must considering how education deliverance is technologically driven in this era.

Teacher training, the vital component of academics, too has hit a brick wall in J&K.

As per the document, there are 53 academic vacant posts lying in State (now UT) level Institute of Education (SIES) and 107 posts in the District Institute of Education (DIETs).

In addition, there are 2061 untrained teachers in Government Secondary schools, who do not meet the requisite professional qualifications.

Funds wise, J&K seems to be getting and spending plenty.

Alone under the Samagra Shiksha scheme, J&K received Rs 1151.70 crore in 2018-19.

For 2018-19, the government of India, as per the document, committed to providing Rs 1794.84 crore (Rs 1402.96 crore for elementary, Rs 359.25 cr for secondary and senior secondary, and Rs 31.92 cr for Teacher Education).

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Thanks to Project Tiger: Majestic Hangul gets a new lifeline in Kashmir

Hirra Azmat

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Srinagar, Feb 23:  Majestic Hangul has got a new lifeline after Jammu and Kashmir government decided to adopt `Project Tiger’ model to arrest the declining population of the critically endangered animal in the valley.

Hangul, cervus elaphus hanglu, is a critically endangered species found mainly in the Dachigam National Park and its adjoining areas in Kashmir. The male Hangul is characterized by the antlers and brownish red coat. The female Hangul do not have the horns. It is the only survivor of the Red Deer group in the Indian sub-continent and its population has been on a decline over the years.

On the directions of Lieutenant governor GC Murmu, Wildlife Department in collaboration with SKAUST has decided to follow the characteristics of Project Tiger to conserve Hangul for posterity.

 

Launched in 1973, Project Tiger is one of the successful programmes for saving the national animal from becoming extinct.

Professor SKAUST and Principal Investigator of the Project Hangul Dr Khursheed Ahmad said under new scheme of things Hangul reserves will be created to ensure a viable population of the animal in their natural habitats

“The Project Tiger envisages the setting up of tiger reserves to help in maintaining the population of national animal. In the same way, Hangul reserves will be created to ensure a viable population of Kashmir stag in their natural habitats,” he said.

Dr Khursheed noted that in a particular expanse of land will be identified in the habitat and marked as the ‘core’ area of the reserve.

“These areas will be kept free of all human activities. It usually has a legal status of National Park or Wildlife Sanctuary. No human activity is allowed inside the core area, including tourism. Grazing and wood collection are already banned in these areas,” Dr Khursheed said.

Wildlife Warden, Central, Altaf Hussain described the Hangul reserves as important areas for the protection and conservation of the Kashmir stag. “There will be a separate authority for Hangul reserves. Project is still in the formative stage and is likely to be initiated soon”, he said.

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Dogs’ day out at KU, literally

Bisma Bhat

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Srinagar, Feb 23: Kashmir University has become a free zone for stray dogs as dozens of them are seen roaming in the main campus, feasting on the leftover food from the varsity canteens.

The canine fear increases manifold after dusk as scholars and students fear venturing out.

The campus has three gates, which are guarded 24×7. However, stray dogs, apparently, have a free pass to enter in and roam around anytime.

 

Be it the administrative block, the scholars’ hostel, or the Naseem Bagh end of the campus, these dogs are seen either ambling in groups or basking on the greens, as students, especially females, walk pass them, dreaded of getting bit.

“The leftover food produced in university cafeteria is thrown in open which attracts these dogs. They have created terror among the students as well as the faculty members,” said an official of the university on the condition of not sharing his name.

“There are around 200 dogs in the campus. The university has become breeding ground for them,” he said.

A professor at Kashmir University, who too wanted to remain anonymous, said: “Yesterday at around 5 in the evening I was leaving the university when I saw group of 8-10 dogs outside my department and I could not dare to walk. I went back to the department and requested my colleagues to escort me to my car.”

The professor said that students dread to walk alone in the campus.

“Students especially females who reside in hostels do not dare to venture in the campus after 5 in the evening,” the professor said.

Insha Wani, a female research scholar at Kashmir University said: “I am a science research scholar and we have to be in the department for longer to perform certain experiments in the laboratory. But due to the threat of canines, we leave earlier and this is affecting our research.”

She said that last year one of the students was injured when a stray dog chased him and he was later referred to hospital.

Media Advisor Kashmir University, Professor Shahid Rasool said: “University is aware of the dog menace and is trying hard to keep them away, but they manage to slip in as the gates are to be kept open for public movement.”

He said that they have taken the issue with all the relevant agencies for a number of times.

“Our proctor wing chases the dogs away on daily basis,” he added.

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