Education and Careers

UPSC aspirant trolled by co-aspirants for too much English

With just 101 days to go for Civil Service's Examination-Prelims (at the time of writing this article), many UPSC aspirants would be hooked to reading newspaper, current affairs based magazines, subject specific books among others. In this learning process, many would also be practicing sentence formation, phrase make up, creating database of witty statements and doing other related activities in the run up to advance preparations for UPSC mains-2021, whose time window for this year is one of the shortest 89 days!

Going with the flow, recently I too tried to imitate the trend. In pursuit of it, I exhorted my fellow mates at my coaching institute to start practicing answer writing as it would encapsulate all aspects of our preparation in an efficient manner. To this end, I drafted a long persuasive message in English and posted it on our institute's WhatsApp group, which had near universal membership of English medium students.

The content of message was more sort of persuasive in nature. It basically sought fellow aspirants to start all together a new group for Mains answer writing practice. Given the anxiety clouding UPSC prelims, I intentionally drafted an expanded message with the objective to dispel exaggerated fears around Prelims and subsequently motivate to take a collective jump onto Mains answer writing ship.

However, to my surprise, instead of receiving responses in affirmation or confutation, I was constantly bombarded with rebuke and chastising remarks both in public and private direct messaging. Many of which bordered on language-shaming periphery.

Tantrums were being thrown onto me like anything. One guy privately messages me, 'Man you are too verbose', another one says, 'Don't flaunt your English for the sake of social approvals.' Yet another in the group says, 'You could have put things simple', and then one forwarded a meme, 'Arre bhai.... Akhir kehna kya chahte ho' (what exactly you want to say), lifted from popular repartee in 3-idiots movie. Castigations were indeed coming from left, right and center.

At first instance, message-flood was bit shocking to me. I have been prolific type-commentor since my late school days. I have been louder on almost all social media groups I'm member of. I have won University level prize in English debate competition. So unsurprisingly, ex-facie such comments were actually surprising. I never experienced such feel-low moments earlier.

To this, I firmed up my mental state to get going into critics value points. Ignorance is not the solution, getting to the bottom of it, identifying genuine faults and negating all invalid banters were crucial to regain confidence.

To the first banter, I re-read my message. I found it not being too verbose. To seek authoritative surety, I forwarded the same message to my University English professor and sought her opinion on the said episode. She replied, "You conveyed exact sense and exact meaning. Had you used less words or say simpler words, you would have ended up conveying less meaning with lesser depths." In a nutshell my stand was vindicated.

To the second banter, my gut response was 'Why on the Earth will I flaunt.' I have been brought up, schooled and worked in English tongued ecosystem. The language is natural to me & perhaps my first tongue. I still don't get the rationale for such remark.

To the third banterist I imaginatively replied that my message was put in the simplest of the way. Since you (banterist) are able to catch the essence, is enough as a testimony of simplicity.

To the forth, 'jo main kehna chahta tha woh aap ko samhaj aa gaya na' (you understood what I wanted to convey, so what needless ado about).

There were certainly number takeaways for me from this virtual engagement. One thing was clear, time and space has a lot to do with the efficacy of the medium of communication. For me either time or space or rather both was not right. I was misfit in the given setting. Sometimes too much English is an invitee link for social ridicule for UPSC aspirants.

However, this doesn't mean I need to take the event with a heavy heart. Neither will I do any good by self-stigmatizing my English message writing appetite or going into social isolation from the virtual world. Things should be taken on lighter note and rebukes as instruments of constructive criticism. Even value-void criticism is part of life and life is a ship of unending learning whose arch transcends UPSC's curriculum frame.

—Name changed. The writer is a resident UPSC aspirant, kindly wish him and others all the best!