Graphics culled from a bulletin aired on Sudarshan News on September 11, 2020 are viral on social media with misleading captions claiming that the public service examination favours Muslim candidates in the Civil Services exams.
BOOM found that several claims made by the channel's Editor-in-Chief Suresh Chavhanke in an hour-long show titled 'UPSC Jihad Par Ab Tak Ka Sabse Bada Khulasa' (Biggest Expose On UPSC Jihad) are misleading.
Earlier on August 28 this year, the Delhi High Court had stayed the airing of the controversial show - Bindas Bol - on the right wing channel which was touted to 'expose UPSC Jihad or the conspiracy of Muslims infiltrating Indian bureaucracy'. The high court's order had come after a plea by the students of Jamia Millia Islamia University. The alleged controversial episode of Bindas Bol was scheduled to be aired on the channel at 8 pm on the same day.
The Supreme Court, however, refused a pre-broadcast ban on the show based on transcripts of a 49-second clip viral on social media. The show, a ten-part-series, was finally aired on September 11 but the top court, on September 15, temporarily restrained the channel from airing the remaining six episodes.
Chavhanke, during the course of the show, had accused the Union Public Service Commission of not being transparent in its functioning and favouring Muslim candidates over Hindus in the selection procedure.
BOOM watched the first four parts of the series available on Sudarshan News' YouTube channel - from where the viral graphics have been culled and fact checked the claims made therein.
Age Relaxation For Muslim Candidates
The graphic, in Hindi, states 'Raising question on benefit of age: Upper age limit for Hindus in UPSC is 32 years. Upper age limit for Muslims in UPSC is 35 years'.
BOOM checked the civil services (preliminary) examination notification issued on the Union Public Service Commission's website on February 12 this year. The notification clearly mentions that the upper age limit for a candidate in general category is 32 years as on August 1, 2020. The notification further mentions the relaxation in upper-age limit under different categories i.e. SC/ST, OBC etc.
- Relaxation in upper age limit is up to five years for candidates belonging to Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes making them eligible to appear for the exam till 37 years of age
- Age relaxation for candidates belonging to Other Backward Classes is up to three years making them eligible to appear for the exam till 35 years of age
The notification also mentions about the cumulative age relaxation under more than one category for candidates belonging to SC/ST and OBC categories who also come under the category of ex-servicemen or persons of benchmark disabilities.
However, no cumulative age relaxation is mentioned anywhere in the notification for candidates who are Muslim and OBC. No age-benefit is mentioned on the basis of religion in the notification.
Mock Interviewer Claims Muslims Given 'Different Treatment'
Around 20 minutes in the first episode, Chavhanke runs the visuals of a mock interview, part of the preparation process for the civil services exam.
He says, in Hindi, 'I'll show you the video of a mock interview. This is a mock interview, I am not claiming that this is an actual one. Several such interviews are conducted for preparation purposes and this is one such interview from social media, it's not mine, had I conducted it you would have said that we have managed it'.
(Hindi: एक मॉक इंटरव्यू का मैं आपको वीडियो दिखाता हूँ | ये मॉक है, मैं दावा नहीं कर रहा हूँ की ये कोई असली इंटरव्यू है | तैयारी के लिए ऐसे तमाम इंटरव्यूज लिए जाते हैं ऐसा ही एक सोशल मीडिया पर इंटरव्यू है, मेरा नहीं है, अगर मैं लेता तो आप कहते की ये मैनेज किया हुआ है |)
In the mock interview, one can hear the interviewer speak in Hindi 'Your interview is not a simple interview. You should be prepared that yours won't be a simple, average interview. There are some reasons for it, first your age and second, your religion'.
(Hindi: आपका इंटरव्यू एक साधारण इंटरव्यू नहीं होगा | आपको इंटरव्यू के बारे में एक पूर्व राय बना लेनी चाहिए कि आपका इंटरव्यू साधारण, औसत इंटरव्यू जैसा नहीं जाएगा | इसके कई कारण हैं, एक कारण तो आपकी उम्र बनती है और दूसरा कारण आपका समुदाय बनता है |)
Chavhanke comes back to raise a question, based on the mock interview, as to why has the candidate been told that his interview will be special. "Is this connected to a community getting more marks in the interview," he reiterates.
Upon a reverse image search, BOOM found the same mock interview uploaded on the YouTube channel of Drishti IAS, a private IAS coaching academy on August 22 this year.
Towards the end of the interview, at the timestamp of 30.43 while giving feedback to the candidate, the interviewer can be heard saying the same as shown in Chavhanke's show.
Here's the complete statement of the interviewer 'Your interview is not a simple interview. You should be prepared that your's won't be a simple, average interview. There are some reasons for it, first your age and second, your religion. Very few Muslim candidates are there and we say the same thing to almost all of them. This has advantages as well as disadvantages. Go with these expectations.'
Benefit In Number Of Attempts
The graphic, in Hindi, translates to 'Benefit in number of attempts: 6 attempts for Hindus in UPSC. 9 attempts for Muslims in UPSC'.
BOOM again checked the examination notification issued in February.
The notification says:
- Every candidate belonging to the general category is permitted six attempts
- The restrictions on the number of attempts does not apply to candidates belonging to Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes who are otherwise eligible for the exam
- Candidates belonging to Other Backward Class are permitted nine attempts
There has been no mention of religion-based relaxation in number of attempts for candidates appearing for the civil services exams.
Government Help To Muslims For Clearing UPSC
Chavhanke incorrectly mentions the Nai Udaan scheme meant for candidates belonging to the minority community as the Udaan Yojna.
While he speaks about the benefits being provided to Muslim candidates, he avoids mentioning other important aspects of the scheme.
BOOM checked the Ministry of Minority Affairs website and found out more about this scheme.
The website clearly mentions that the benefit will be given to a candidate from minority community only once. The list of minority communities include Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain and Parsis notified under Section 2 (C) of National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992.
The Nai Udaan scheme is applicable only for candidates who have cleared the prelims conducted by Union Public Service Commission, Staff Selection Commission, State Public Service Commissions and are appearing for the main exams.
Coaching Centres In Muslim Varsities To 'Support' Muslims
At the timestamp of 55.34 in the show, Chavhanke says that former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had facilitated the setting up of five coaching centres for UPSC, of which four were set up in Muslim universities namely Aligarh Muslim University, Jamia Millia Islamia university, Jamia Hamdard Unversity, Maulana Azad National Urdu University, and Bhimrao Ambedkar University.
Chavhanke questions as to why were these coaching centres not allotted to non-Muslim universities like Mumbai University or some varsity in Chennai.
BOOM found reports mentioning that Jamia Millia Islamia 'provides free residential coaching for the civil services exam' to students from minorities, SC, ST community, and women. A May 2019 notification on JMI's website reiterates the same.
We also found reports about a scheme by the Delhi government which extends financial assistance to students from Scheduled Castes, Other Backward Classes (OBC) and economically weaker sections for attending coaching for various competitive exams including the civil services.
According to a report published in Hindustan Times, under the Jai Bhim Mukhyamantri Pratibha Vikas Yojana students can avail assistance to prepare for exams conducted by 'UPSC, Delhi Subordinate Services Selection Board, Staff Selection Commission, Railway Recruitment Board, banks and insurance companies and to prepare for medical and engineering pre-examinations'.
BOOM also came across a Scheme of Free Coaching for SC and OBC Students on the website of Department of Social Justice and Empowerment, GoI, which has enlisted the name of coaching centres empanelled under the Scheme.
Boom also contacted Suresh Chavhanke, editor-in-chief of Sudarshan News who told us that in his show he has spoken about Muslims who are also benefiting under the OBC category in the UPSC exams.
"I started the show with a question that what percentage of the population will you call minority. In which country in the world is 18 per cent of the population a minority? On one hand you are taking the benefit of minorities while on the other you are also taking benefits under OBC category" Chavhanke told BOOM.
Chavhanke added that Jains, Budhhists etc are the minorities. "Is it not wrong to them," he asked Boom.
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