Removal of optional subjects in UPSC


There was a lot of buzz in the past few years about the removal of Optional subjects in the UPSC CSE exam. Whether it is true or not? Let’s find out.

UPSC CSE is considered one of the toughest exams in India. A lot of sincerity, hard+ smart work, dedication, and calm minds are necessary to qualify for the Civil Service Exam. 

Even with the incoming COVID-19 scenario, the chances of UPSC executing these changes by the year 2021 are very low. This can be attributed to the number of vacancies which was approximately 796 in 2020 and this number is expected to increase in 2021.

Will Optional Be Removed From UPSC?

In 2015, Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) was marked as a qualifying exam for UPSC and no challenges were raised for this decision. However, in recent years, one speculation is doing round the corners about the changes in the optional subjects – whether they should be removed or not from Civil Services Exam.

The views of students on this issue are divided. While many feel the expressed issue should be implemented, some others are against the motion. In a survey, most of the students were standing with the motion.

Though this issue has been in news for a while, however, it is not clear at this point, whether UPSC will remove the optional subjects from Civil Services Examination or not. The whole decision will rely on the proposal of the Baswan committee, which recommended the removal of optional papers. The online poll was conducted by this committee and found that mass aspirants favoured the move. But there is a concern among experts that this decision would lose the significance or relevance of subjects like literature and languages.

Predictions On The Decision

Each move is accompanied by many predictions. Some predictions are in the favour of the issue while some are against it. The same is the case with optional subjects in the Mains Exam. Some believe that the optional subjects will remain in the syllabus while others believe they will be completely removed as a choice.

Many aspirants are supporting the removal because they are certain that these changes will provide them with more time for preparation. Also, the optional subjects can be chosen from a wide variety which gives some aspirants more advantages over others, and thus removing them, ensures the exam is a more level playing field. Experts also believe that such changes will focus on more important subjects such as Public Administration, economics, and polity which are more crucial for a civil servant. Those aspirants who do not want this change are arguing based on the opinion that the removal of optional subjects would favour urban youngsters. 

These predictions are being made for a few years as of now and the chances that the decision would come out in 2021 are very bleak. When it will be implemented, no one knows.

See Also – Sociology Optional For UPSC

Baswan Committee

The Baswan Committee constituted by the Central Government of India and the UPSC, proposed the idea of removal of optional subjects from the CSE exam pattern. The Committee gave its proposal in 2017 and the government is yet to decide on this matter. 

Since this is going to be a game-changer in the lives of aspirants, the correct decision is required and thus the Govt has not yet arrived at any decision. 

Baswan Committee – The Background

The Baswan Committee is formed after the retirement of one of the greatest IAS officers of his time – Bhartendra Singh Baswan and since then is running under his chairmanship.

The committee was implemented to ensure fair practices in the Civil service exams and to come up with any idea or suggestion that could benefit the civil servants in their examinations. For instance, the committee has given its suggestion concerning the upper age limit of aspirants and the removal of optional subjects from the syllabus.

The experts of diverse fields such as engineering, management, and members of the committee. The proposal for removing the subjects was given after receiving feedback online from aspirants. While many candidates felt that the removal of optional subjects would prove to be a game changer for them, others believe that the withdrawal of optional subjects would assist the urban youth to prepare better for the exam by testing general knowledge and concentrating on governance-related subjects.

The Procedure Of Application Of The Law

Many aspirants are worried about the implementation as they believe the decision will come into effect the moment it is passed and will affect their preparations. However, they should know that even if the decision is made in near future, it will take a while to get implemented. Such time can be utilized by students to prepare for their exams accordingly.

The candidates need to know that removal of optional paper would not bring any changes in the number of subjects that a student can opt for. However, to be able to go to the next round, candidates must give the exam and score well. 

The UPSC is yet to make any decision on the proposal, it will likely do so in near future. Although more than half the number of students are in favour of the decision, many have opposed it as well. It will be a tough call but an ample amount of time will be given after the implementation for better preparation for the exam. 


The implementation of the removal of optional subjects from the Civil service exam is very unlikely in 2021. Just like every coin has two sides, this issue also comes with its pros and cons. While most students believe that the optional subjects should be removed from the Mains paper as this will ensure dependency on marks only on the Main subjects, the rest are against it.

However, Civil Service exam aspirants should only focus on their preparations and should prioritize their studies rather than wasting their time worrying about the decision. 

At this point, it is not clear if UPSC will scrap all the optional subjects. Whatever will be the decision, only dedication and persistence can lead the aspirants to crack the exam.

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