Pali helped many enter IAS; UPSC doesn’t know how it entered syllabi

The ancient language was included in list of optional subjects of the prestigious Civil Services Examination in 1981

Bhagalpur (Bihar): The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), that conducts the Civil Services Examination, does not know how and why Pali – a language no Indian has spoken for centuries – was included in the list of optional subjects of the examination.

Not among Scheduled Languages

The Eighth Schedule of the Constitution contains a list of 22 languages. These are called Scheduled Languages. However, Pali is not one of them. But for inexplicable reasons, it was included in the syllabus for the Civil Services Examination in 1981 and contiued to be its part till 2012.

Many candidates chose Pali as an optional subject and got entry into the elite Indian Administrative Service, Indian Police Service and Indian Foregin Service, besides Central Services like Indian Revenue Service.

Order missing

RTI activist Ajit Kumar Singh, on 6 September 2017, sought information from UPSC regarding inclusion of Pali language in its syllabus and the list of successful candidates who chose Pali as an optional subject. The UPSC’s reply is evasive and does not contain complete information.

The UPSC said Pali was included in the syllabus in 1981 on the orders of Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT). However, when a copy of the order was sought, the UPSC replied that it was not available. Even the Department of Personnel and Training that supposedly issued the order, does not have its record.

According to Encyclopaedia Britannica: Pāli is a classical and liturgical language of the Theravāda Buddhist canon, a Middle Indo-Aryan language of north Indian origin. Pāli’s use as a Buddhist canonical language came about because the Buddha opposed the use of Sanskrit as a vehicle for his teachings and encouraged his followers to use vernacular dialects. Pāli died out as a literary language in mainland India in the 14th century but survived elsewhere until the 18th.

Story: Kunal Kishore

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