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TS PGECET 2020: COUNSELLING TO START FROM 11 NOVEMBER

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TS PGECET 2020 counselling will begin from 11 November 2020. The TS PGECET 2020 counselling for qualified candidates will be held by the Telangana State Council of Higher Education, TSCHE. The TS PGECET state-level exam is held to give admissions to MTech/ MPharmacy/PharmD programmes. The process of TS PGECET 2020 counselling incorporates candidate’s registration, payment of fee, document verification, choice filling and seat allotment. The authorities will hold a separate counselling round for GATE and TS PGECET qualified candidates. However, GATE qualified candidates will be given priority. Candidates who qualified GATE in the year 2018, 2019 and 2020 are also eligible to participate in the counselling process. Candidates seeking help in regards to the counselling of TS PGECET 2020, will be ably assisted at the various help centres set up by the authorities. For more information, candidates can visit the website—pgecet.tsche.ac.in or pgecetadm.tsche.ac.in.

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How UPSC exams are getting lost in translation

For many Hindi-medium examinees, the Civil Services exams are a tougher game to win, thanks to misleading, incomprehensible or incorrect translations in the question papers. The UPSC must pay attention to this issue as it ultimately impinges on their right to equal opportunity.

Niranjan Kumar

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How UPSC exams are getting lost in translation

The constitutional bodies which play an important role in the smooth running of Indian polity are—besides the government—the Election Commission, the Supreme Court and the Union Public Service Commission or UPSC. The UPSC mainly conducts various examinations for the Indian civil services, the ‘steel frame of India’, and has been doing its job as the guardian of merit efficiently as well as impartially. It is worth noting that, barring a few exceptions, UPSC, unlike other constitutional bodies, has been free from controversies and has earned a good reputation. However, for the past few years, questions are being raised on UPSC’s Civil Services Exam (CSE) by Hindi-medium candidates. Even in the recently concluded CSE preliminary exam, the Hindi version of the question papers were marred by controversy. As it is something which affects around 40% of the total candidates appearing for the preliminary exam (PE), it would be significant to understand the issue and its probable solution.

It is well known that appointment to the various premier posts of the Indian Civil Services, like the IAS, IPS, central Group ‘A’ services along with Group ‘B’ services, is done by the UPSC through CSE.  But for the last few years, clearing these examinations has become insurmountable for Hindi-medium candidates. It is understood that the CSE question papers are prepared in English, and then translated into Hindi and other Indian languages. However, in the recent CSE PE, it has been alleged that, in more than 40 questions, the questions translated to Hindi were either misleading, incomprehensible or simply just wrong. The practice of translating English question papers to Hindi was followed in the past too, but now either the process is more dependent on technology or the proficiency of the translators is not up to the mark. 

Technology can be used for translation in a variety of ways. One is machine or computerized translation, colloquially called ‘Google translation’, where the English text is typed on a computer and is translated to Hindi. But, in this sort of translation, the words and sentences are not able to convey the correct meaning many times and the usual errors of the translation procedure creep in. The reason behind this is the difference between the syntax of English and Hindi. For example, in English, the order of words in a sentence is usually ‘subject+verb+object’ (e.g. Ram goes home), while, in Hindi, syntactically, the order goes ‘subject+object+verb’ (e.g. Ram ghar jaata hai). With simple and short sentences, the machine mostly translates correctly, but for complex and long English sentences, the Hindi meaning is often compromised. Consequently, Hindi-medium candidates have to pay for this. 

Another limitation of machine translation is that the meanings of the translated words may be ambiguous and misleading. The principal reason for such ambiguity is that word meanings often derive from their cultural contexts. For example, I have often seen the English expression “Big Brother” translated in Hindi to “bada bhai”. Now, ‘Big Brother’ is borrowed from George Orwell’s 1984 and has a negative connotation in the English lexicon, where it signifies a person or organisation exercising total, dictatorial control over others, intimidating and bullying others or controlling others’ thoughts and behaviour and limiting their freedom. On the contrary, the Hindi term of “bada bhai” is used in a positive sense, since in the Indian context, the elder brother is often a guardian or a mentor. The famous Hindi story, “Bade Bhai Sahab” by Munshi Premchand is an illustration of this sentiment. Another example can be seen in the English term “hot potato”, which means a controversial issue or uncomfortable situation. However, it’s Google translation to Hindi is simply “garam aaloo”, which is not even remotely close to the original meaning! Although the UPSC has tried to overcome machine translation errors, such misleading translations are still found now and then, giving Hindi-medium candidates a hard time.

Using technology in translation has one more disturbing dimension. It seems that translators, hired by the UPSC or other agencies conducting competitive exams, take recourse to various popular online dictionaries like shabdkosh.com, instead of standard dictionaries such as the “e-Mahashabdkosh”, an online dictionary website hosted and maintained by the Department of Official Language, Ministry of Home Affairs. An example can be drawn from a question asked in the CSE PE this year, where the English word “delivery” was translated to “paridaan” in Hindi. As per e-Mahashabdkosh, given the context in which the word “delivery” was used, the translated word should have been “vitaran” or “supurdagi”. It must be mentioned that the word “paridaan” is not only not in frequent use in Hindi, but is also a bit misleading in its meaning. 

One can argue that, if the Hindi translations are confusing or misleading, the examinees should look at the original English text. But it must be understood that time is short during the PE and it is not possible for a candidate to repeatedly match the Hindi and English texts. Moreover, the problem is not limited to unintelligible, confusing and misleading translations. Many times, the intended meaning of the original text is completely lost and a false meaning appears. A classic example of the same was seen when the famed “Civil Disobedience Movement” launched by Mahatma Gandhi was translated in the PE-2020 as “Asahyog Andolan” (Non-Cooperation Movement) instead of “Savinay Awagya Andolan”.

Such unintelligible, confusing, misleading and incorrect translations not only lead to wrong answers but also consume a lot of the candidates’ precious time, entangling them in the labyrinth of mistranslated words. This creates further stress on them in an already trying examination and, as a consequence, for no fault of theirs, the Hindi-medium candidates lag behind in the exam results. 

In an examination where every single mark counts, inappropriate translations deprive Hindi-medium examinees of the Equality of Opportunity, a fundamental right given by the Constitution of India. Such translations are a reason for the recent decline in the number of successful Hindi-medium candidates. It also must be noted that most of these candidates come from weaker sections of society and generally belong to the SC, ST, OBC and EWS categories. Thus, this is a grave injustice done to these examinees. I, on behalf of some such candidates, wrote a letter to the chairman of UPSC, and the fact that this letter went viral on social media and was covered by several newspapers describes the relevance of the issue.

The UPSC must understand that for good translation it is necessary that machine translation is minimised and translators have a sound command over both the source language and the target language as well as a reasonable understanding of the subject matter. Thus, the assistance of qualified scholars should be enlisted for this purpose, as one of the committees of the UPSC itself has recommended. The UPSC also needs to understand that familiar and comprehensible words should be used in question papers so that candidates do not have to grapple with the language unnecessarily.

One hopes that the UPSC, an organisation with the highest integrity and exemplary professionalism, will rectify the issues related to translation, sooner than later, as it is also contrary to the spirit of the Constitution.  

The writer is a professor in the Department of Hindi, University of Delhi, and has taught in various universities in the United States. The views expressed are personal.

The UPSC must understand that for good translation it is necessary that machine translation is minimised and translators have a sound command over both the source language and the target language as well as a reasonable understanding of the subject matter. Thus, the assistance of qualified scholars should be enlisted for this purpose, as one of the committees of the UPSC itself has recommended.

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INDIAN COAST GUARD NAVIK NOTIFICATION RELEASED

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The Indian Coast Guard, Ministry of Defence, has released an official notification regarding the recruitment process of Navik, the domestic branch (cook and steward). All the interested and eligible candidates are requested to visit the official website, i.e., joinindiancoastguard.gov.in, to read the notification, and apply, once the process starts. As per the notice, there are a total of 50 vacancies. The online application dates are 30 November to 7 December. Candidates have to pass class 10th with 50% marks in aggregate from a board of Education recognised by central/state government (5% relaxation in above minimum cut off will be given for SC / ST candidates and outstanding sportsperson of national level).

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ICAI CA 2020 EXAMS TO BE HELD FROM 21 NOVEMBER

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Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) CA exam admit cards can be downloaded from the official website icai.org using the registration numbers and other required details. The CA foundation, intermediate and final exams will be held from 21 November to 15 December. “Candidates for ICAI Exams starting from November 21, 2020, are informed that exams will be held as per schedule,” the ICAI said, adding: “They [candidates] should only concentrate on exam studies and not be misled by any false propaganda/incorrect statements made and should only refer to announcements at http://icai.org.”

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DU ADMISSIONS 2020: PG ADMISSION PROCESS BEGINS TODAY

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The University of Delhi will commence the postgraduate level entrance exam and merit-based admissions for over 54 courses offered by the university from Wednesday. “The admission to some of the courses is either based only through entrance or through both entrance and merit. All the applicants whose final year results have been declared by the University must update their marks on their dashboard. Applicants whose final year result of the qualifying examination has not been declared yet should wait to update their marks.”

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HOW COVID-19 PANDEMIC HAS CHANGED B-SCHOOLS

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Covid-19 has jolted the global economy and sent ripples across various sectors, including education. The nationwide lockdown led to the closure of schools and colleges. The B-schools too have taken a major brunt of the situation, with their admission timelines, classes, and placements getting severely impacted. Most government and private B-schools postponed classes, semester examinations, convocations, and group discussion (GD) and personal interview (PI) rounds, following the guidelines that were laid down.

CHALLENGES

Many B-schools deferred their placement process, cancelled semesters, and suspended internships as they wait for some semblance of normalcy to be restored. Apart from the pedagogical and infrastructural challenges, the management institutions are faced with the task to reinvent themselves so that they can future-proof students for tomorrow.

The ongoing crisis has mandated a shift to the digital medium for every B-school so that any future disruptions do not hamper the education system, as it happened now due to poor preparedness. Going digital has been troublesome because nobody was ready for such a turn of events. The pandemic has raised a need to adopt more innovative ways to impart education services at all levels.

However, a few challenges are in order before a smooth transition to online takes place. First, uninterrupted access to the Internet is yet to be achieved in tier-2, tier-3, and remote cities in India. Second, we lack a comprehensive policy regulation that can lead to ambiguity and vagueness with regard to the operational framework. Also, online learning needs to take cognizance of the different learning patterns and pace of students so that customised solutions can be devised for them. Additionally, the concerns around increased screen time and stress and anxiety triggered due to the continuous use of electronic devices will also have to be addressed.

ROLE OF TECHNOLOGY

Given the current circumstances, online classes have become the most pragmatic solution to ensure continuous and seamless education. Various schools and universities have developed an intranet system due to which they could adopt video broadcasting tools like Zoom and Google Hangout. Such video solutions can help educators organize live stream classroom sessions for students. Video broadcasting enables learning through recording, live video, audio, real-time Q&A chat via mobile app or website.

Asynchronous learning programs can be leveraged to allow students to complete courses without any compulsions to be present at a particular time or place such as in discussion boards. These technologies are student-friendly and student-focused. In addition, social media channels and their feature of real-time messaging can be harnessed by leading B-schools to address remote learning challenges. This can help education reach every student’s doorstep. Social Media Channels are helping colleges and other institutions provide information with a legit multiplier impact so that the ‘learning anytime, anywhere’ ideology can be embraced effectively.

Emerging technologies that will play a critical role in the enhancement of the online education model include artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR). AR and VR can provide smart and immersive interactive experiences to students. Video calls between students and professors with a real-time experience can give ground-breaking results in terms of engagement and knowledge retention.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) recreates the human intelligence procedure. It helps in the grading of tests as it can eliminate the risk of human errors and unjust biases. It can also assist educators in creating online tests in various formats such as multiple-choice questions (MCQ), skills, essays, aptitude-based questions, and typing. On the evaluation front, these automated solutions are in-built with an intuitive multi-section window where the evaluator can change to various settings to convey explicit evaluations. The AI-empowered video interviews help generate extensive and detailed student reports based on internal score and performance.

ROLE OF NEP 2020

The newly-enacted National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 couldn’t have come at a better time. The policy is a positive re-imagination of India’s education system with an aim to overhaul it into a progressive, practical, and equitable regime. Effective execution of this policy requires the re-prioritization of budgetary resources. The policy envisions revolutionary structural reforms for higher education. It promotes a flexible three- or four-years degree programme structure at the undergraduate level, allowing multiple exits to learners even after 1 year with certification.

The departure from the current three-year model is meant to encourage and inculcate a research component at the undergraduate level, which in turn, will lead to a degree with research by the time of its completion. Students who are mid-term dropouts would be awarded credit for the term they completed and an option to complete their degree after the break. Colleges will not be affiliated to any university. The deemed university status will also be put to an end. Over the next 15 years, graded autonomy will be extended to colleges to provide degrees.

NEP 2020 has its eye set on designing a multi-disciplinary curriculum that is touted to be a game-changer. The top-rated global universities would be encouraged to come to India while top Indian universities will be motivated to go global. Creative combinations of subjects and vocational education will be the primary focus. The policy emphasises teaching ‘21st-century’ skills like mathematical thinking and creative temperament that will go a long way in preparing students for the competitive professional world.

The new education policy, in a nutshell, seeks to upskill management graduates in areas that will help them future-proof themselves and be relevant to the changing job market scenario.

NEW OPPORTUNITIES

In times of economic distress, sound education becomes more important than ever. Due to the disruption caused by Covid-19, there is a rise in the demand for tailored courses keeping in view the changing economic and social dynamics of a post-pandemic world. The coronavirus crisis has shown students many new employment possibilities.

As large amounts of the economy move online, technologies like big data and cloud have helped businesses manage data more efficiently, indicating the opening up of more lucrative job positions. The surge in data usage will lead to more demand for data engineers, data analysts, data scientists, and ML/AI engineers. Short-term programme by FORE of 5 Months is helping a lot on the same.

As remote working becomes popular, skilled IT students who can serve as security architects and ethical hackers will be more sought-after. More management graduates will be needed to manage such high-tech businesses, as well as more managerial positions across other verticals, are bound to open up.

SUMMING IT UP

We are living in tough times. Many of the students and graduates will be the first ones in a new generation to make the most of their recently-acquired education and skills in a post-coronavirus world. Therefore, it goes without saying that skilling, hard work, and targeting the right opportunities will be the key factors in the success and adapting to change.

The writer is director, FORE School of Management.

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HOW TO CRACK THE IIFT EXAM IN 2021

The MBA-IB offered by the IIFT is a much sought-after programme for students across the country. However, to make your way to the top of the admission list, a few pointers have to be kept in mind.

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The Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT) is the only institution among the top B-schools in India which is currently offering an MBA programme in International Business (MBA-IB). IIFT institutes are located at two locations, Delhi and Kolkata, with a proposition of launching its new Kakinada campus with 60 seats in 2021. The Dar-es-Salaam campus of IIFT has also started operating.

The NTA conducts the IIFT entrance exam in online mode for candidates interested in pursuing its flagship programme of MBA-IB. But there are a few things to be kept in mind for the entrance exam in 2021.

CHANGES IN EXAM PATTERN

The 2021 entrance exam will be a computer-based test and not a paper-based test. The timings have also undergone a change: the test will now be held from 3 PM to 5 PM, as against the previous 10 AM-12 PM slot.

The IIFT exam consists of multiple-choice objective type questions and will have four major sections in its 2021 instalment, instead of the earlier six. Each section has a different number of questions. VARC, Quant, DILR will have the same scoring pattern, while GK will have a different one. At least 4-5 reading comprehension passages of moderate difficulty are also to be expected.

The IIFT 2021 edition will be a single session test and the exam will be held in 68 cities across India on January 24, 2021.

THREE STAGES OF EXAM

The IIFT exam will have three stages to be cleared by the applicant. The first is the writing skill assessment round, meant to check the writing skills and critical analysis capabilities of the candidates. The ones who mark their place in the cut-off list of IIFT 2021 will be eligible to sit for this round.

The topic for writing will be given on the spot, and candidates will be told to complete an essay within the stipulated time. The topic can be about any topic under the sun, including politics, business and the corporate world, the Indian or global economy, sports, media and communication, social reforms and the society and law and amendments.

The topic and time duration will be set by the admission selection authorities of the IIFT and any query regarding the round must be brought up to the authority without delay. After the completion of this round and declaration of the results, selected candidates will be sent for the next round of the selection procedure, which is a group discussion (GD).

The motive for the GD round is to test the thinking capabilities, levels of knowledge, and skills for speaking and debating. The topics for the round can emerge from any prominent subjects, mostly including economics, management, business, politics, science and technology, media and mass communication, law, sports and literature.

Selected candidates will be given time to prepare talking points on the topic and asked to discuss it in groups of seven or eight people. The trick to succeeding in this round is to counter question the points put forth by other candidates and make sure that valid and correct arguments are used to do that.

The candidates who perform well in the GD will be cleared for the personal interview (PI), the final round in the selection process. The main aim of this round is to judge the candidates’ understanding of the course they are about to opt for along with their interest in the subject matter.

Candidates can expect a panel of judges to ask them questions from any field, including the personal life of the candidate. Answering their questions with confidence is key for this round. The candidates’ responses will be examined on terms decided by the judges, and those deemed fit will be put on the final list of students selected for admission.

The GD and PI will take place in February 2021 in various cities, including Mumbai, Lucknow, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Delhi, Chennai and Bengaluru.

Shortlisted candidates will have to submit a Statement of Purpose (SoP), considered a significant criterion for the IIFT selection procedure, and pay the requisite fee. Later, the candidates can choose a campus (either in New Delhi or Kolkata), based on which, seat allotment would be carried out. However, the candidates who get selected in the IIFT entrance examination will be given first preference during the seat allotment.

HOW TO PREPARE

Firstly, it is important to identify strong and weak areas and work on them. This would include regular practice and solving questions and mock tests, and developing a proper understanding of the basic concepts to help apply advanced tricks. It is also important to establish a balance between speed and accuracy. Neither should be too low. Moreover, it would help a candidate to read as much as they can to improve language and comprehension skills.

Since sectional cut-offs are important in the IIFT tests, taking a section-wise approach can also be really helpful. For instance, candidates may prepare for Reading Comprehension and Verbal Ability in ten days, Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation in ten days, and Quantitative Analysis and General Knowledge in another ten-day period. Identifying any usual types of questions by going through previous years’ papers and practising them on a daily basis can also help.

For Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning, which is a time-consuming section, timed practice tests would improve reading speed. The Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension sections can be mastered by building proficiency in English grammar, syntax and vocabulary, phrases and idioms, and reading skills. The Reading Comprehension section generally has 4-5 passages, so it is impractical to attempt all of them are they are likely to be lengthy. Keep in mind that at least two passages would be easier than the rest, and candidates can maximise on their scores by reading fast and going through the questions before answering.

For the Quantitative Aptitude questions, candidates would need to enhance basic mathematical skills and practise topics like time, distance, work and heights, simple and compound interest, mensuration, permutation and combination and geometry.

The General Awareness paper holds the least weightage, but the section is still important in proving the merit of a candidate. To proceed with it, first, one should divide the section in two parts: static and dynamic. Then, read the Manorama Yearbook and daily newspapers thoroughly, with a focus on current events, business and trade and policies of India with other countries.

The writer is a senior faculty member at T.I.M.E. Delhi.

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