Here Is Why I Think The Decision To Take CSS Exams In Urdu Is A Bad Idea

“This advertisement for CSS exams doesn’t specify if the paper will be in English or Urdu. I must stand against this injustice of lack of information and petition to ensure that CSS exams are taken in Urdu from now on.”

A petition based on this train of thought led to the uproar against the ruling about CSS exams. On Feb 14, the Lahore High Court ordered that the CSS exams should be conducted in Urdu from 2018.

The reasons that are coming forward for this sudden change mostly have to do with patriotism. *cue gunfire shots*

Patriotism is undoubtedly brought about by changing the medium of an examination to Urdu from English. Take that, Angraiz!  Do you know what else we should strike off? Tea. We got it from the goras from back when they were, like, ruling us and stuff.

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And cricket. Cricket is an English game. Why do we even have a cricket team??? Hamari national game tou hockey hai.

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Clearly, this is a decision some 55-70 years too late. It’s like building a cottage and then taking bricks out randomly in hopes it will magically turn into a villa.

To what extent will the paper be in Urdu? A mean spirited person (me) would question if the English section would also be in Urdu. You know, in the interest of ensuring complete patriotism.

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This is how I like to imagine the proceedings went down:

*during a break from constructing roads and metros”

waisey shouldn’t our official language = our national language??”

JBH. Tou ab Urdu ki importance kaisey barhaain?

CSS exams ko Urdu main kardo lol”

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One cannot help but question why, out of the blue (or green lol), the system realized that promoting Urdu is of national importance.

Barely 2.09 percent student passed the CSS exams in 2016. Reactions to this mostly included blaming the education system of the country.

We all hear stories of how brilliant students from Grade A universities fail the CSS exams. These students don’t fail because of a lack of intelligence or creativity. The process of giving the CSS exam is akin to prepping for a military position. The paper does not demand or desire creativity or original thought. It wants to ensure the indoctrination of the status quo so completely that the students who pass make sure that the current system follows through as it is. It demands standard, acceptable answers to select people who will comply and not make waves in the amazingly stable system that we currently have. Considering this, the language is the last issue that needs to be dealt with.

Implementing this by 2018 is shortsighted.

Let’s put aside the idea of our collective postcolonial inferiority complex manifesting in whitewashing everything, including the medium of instruction in educational institutes.

What remains is the (bitter?) fact that English is the medium of education in schools and universities that provide quality education.

For all our academic life, we are taught to give precedence to English over Urdu. Some schools even frown upon using Urdu outside the classroom as long as you’re within school premises. So the students who have the knowledge and training to work for change are suddenly told that if you want to give the CSS you have to do it in Urdu. It is highly doubtful that many would be able to pass that. Adha LUMS fail hojaye ga.

There are obviously brilliant kids who aren’t proficient in English. But until the official language is switched to Urdu in other aspects of government and related institutions, candidates passing the Urdu exams would face far more trouble when they start their service. The general documentation and government paperwork needs to be strictly in Urdu before CSS candidates are chosen using the new Urdu exams.

How will Sociology/World History/Political Science be tested?

Quality textbooks for most of the CSS subjects are available in English. The idea of being patriotic through the language medium of the CSS exams is cute, but the ground reality is that there is a lot of work left to be done in making Urdu the medium in which modern subjects can be taught and understood.

Are you expected to study in English and translate your answers to Urdu?

“Capitalism tou honi hi nani chahiye. Bourgeiousi ne zaraye paidawar ko apney qaboo main rakha hua hai. Mukammal galat baat.”


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The Alternative

When you want to transform a system, common sense dictates that you start at the bottom. If you want the masses to embrace our culture, specifically Urdu, why start at the most advanced level by changing the language of an important federal level paper that many spend years preparing for?

A smart committee would make Urdu the medium of instruction starting in primary school or kindergarten. And move to produce better coursebooks in Urdu that are qualitatively comparable to their ‘English’ counterparts.

A better step would be to give a choice between English and Urdu rather than completely switching to Urdu. In light of the fact, that there has been a gross misrepresentation of the Urdu speaking classes in bureaucratic posts, a move like this would lead to a curb in the entrenched inequality within the system.

Cover Image Via: DAWN