on 25 June, 2013

In The Service Of The Nation

India is a country where the typical sixty-seventy year old aunty or uncle never hesitates to lash out at the crappy political or administrative set-up of the country and how they have been treated badly throughout their lives by XYZ officer here and there. Undoubtedly corruption is as closely related to the system as marrow to the bones or maggots to a grave.

Now, if all this has to change and if the country at large has to reach the grand vision as envisioned by great thinkers like Dr. A.P.J.Abdul Kalam Azad then the change must be brought about by the GEN-NEXT which is what we have been touted to be in electronic and print media and by the numerous “pundits” who shed light on a hundred different issues under the sun every day.

One of the most sought after modes of serving the nation at a very fundamental and grass-root way is the Indian Administrative Service (IAS). The examination, conducted by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), and by extension, the services itself has unfortunately lost the sheen over the years thanks to the prevalent corruption and excessive mud-flinging by the media. At one point of time every student dreamt of cracking the civil services and taking up a cushy job in the government and well, enjoy all the types of perquisites that came with it. However, the afore mentioned reasons along with the lure of the private sector with its fat paycheques , swanky offices and ultra-sexy corporate lifestyle has reduced the civil services to a second tier option or maybe lower for most. At this point I would like to state that barring a few north Indian hubs like Delhi and Patna one will rarely find serious aspirants for the examination anywhere else. This has led to a number of undeserving second-rate people taking up positions of responsibilities which has led to the mess we are in as of today.

The civil services examination’s lineage can be traced back to even middle ages of India but its present form was constructed in the 19th century when it was instituted by the British to choose worthy people (read Britishers) to rule over the Indians. This was until Satyendranath Tagore broke the record in 1863. Over the years, the examination has seen a lot of changes which were mainly meant to test various aspects of a candidate ranging from soft skills like reading to memory to a certain degree of analysis. However, most students who cleared it in the 50 years post- independence were able to because of their “rote quotient”.

The latest scheme of examination involves an essay which requires the student to express his opinions and analysis on a certain issue, general studies of various things related to India like its history, culture, geography and economics along with fundamental analysis testing tools like statistics. Apart from this, English of a very good level is tested at various stages. The optional subjects are to check the depth of knowledge that the candidate has in his field of interest. The examination holding body at one time offered the most arbitrary options like Pali, Mailthili (google it if you don’t know) and Anthropology apart from the regular Maths, History and the likes. This is followed by the dreaded interview in which selected candidates are made to convince a panel of five-six sixty year olds why you could do a good job in the future by summarising the previous events of their life into something seemingly extraordinary. Ask any person who gave the civil services or any other allied exam and s/he will definitely say that the interview would draw cold sweat from them back in the day. Most candidates take more than one attempt to pass all the stages and hence a number of years must be sacrificed in order to achieve the end result. Some aspirants are also working professionals and face an uphill task of juggling work and studies.

In sum, preparing for IAS, IPS and the like requires a lot of dedication and a hunger for success to drive you on which maybe lacking in an individual when he is a fresh graduate which drives him/her away from the monstrous amounts of studies the exam demands. Apart from the civil services there are a number of other “services” type exams like the engineering services, the trigger unfriendly police services, the travel friendly foreign services among a list of dozen others. Engineers with their “inherently analytical mind” should definitely be gunning to take top positions here and do society a favour by doing something which has a large-scale impact at the grass roots itself. Engineering candidates with a holistic education and a sound background should definitely be ideal candidates for the services.

Unfortunately, the government has shot themselves in the foot by implementing reservations for its favourite part of the junta (read vote bank) even for the services. Therefore, a certain number of undeserving candidates are getting selected making the growth rather sluggish and compromising in nature. Clearly, the policy makers have their priorities set differently and keep the value of retaining their position higher than development of the nation and even something as important as administration has been inflicted with the curse of reservation.

If India has to come out of the present rut that it is in and we the current generation have to actualize to our true maximum potential which is expected of us then we need quality people in the administrative wing of the government. These people have to be among us. It's time the youth started considering the IAS and allied services as a strong career option and developed the feeling of service towards and patriotism for the Motherland.

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