Civil Services…Why?

Why we should go for Civil Services?

Please consider these images. We have seen in real or pictures countryside ravaged by floods year after year with no respite in sight. We encounter overcrowded and dirty railway station while waiting for the train from yesterday. We have never had a pleasant experience with a government organization for pettiest of the works. We have a problem with non-existent roads, drains, sanitation facilities, ill functioning government schools and overcharging private schools. We see emancipated rickshawallahs and laborers coming all the way from the poorest districts living precarious lives. We encounter poverty, squalor and disease at every corner in our villages, towns and cities unless we prefer to keep our eyes closed.

The question arises what we do in these situation. The common approach would be to thank our lucky stars that we have the opportunity to escape all of this. We have a professional degree which will guarantee a well paid job on or off the campus. We will have the opportunity to earn decent amount of legal money through which we can make our life better as well as of our families. There is nothing wrong with this individualistic approach per se. In any case whatever we do, be it the top most corporate honchos or be it our rerhiwalahs, we are actually helping to build this country. Every one of us, if we are doing honest work in our chosen field we are serving India directly or indirectly.

Now, what is the way to directly contribute to solve the problems we see around us each and every day. One of the surest way to go about it, is the elite Indian Civil Services. There are other options also like civil society organization and of course politics. But, if we analyze the careers of activists and politicians, one thing surely comes out. There is no single exam for these careers, which one can pass and be part of their ilk. Civil Services exam conducted by UPSC every year for 24 services gives us the opportunity to be part of the Indian governance system by passing an examination. And as it has a syllabus, it can be prepared for.

Lets try and understand what exactly a career in civil services offers you beside the popular Lal Batti and a big house in the center of the town. There are 24 different services in this particular exam , the most popular being IAS, IPS, IFS and IRS. There are others like IRTS, IRPS, IDAS, ICLS, IIS, RPF. At the initial stage itself you can see the multiplicity of choice. If we talk only about IAS, the diversity of the roles is mind boggling. In the initial 10-15 years of one’s career, this person is responsible for nearly everything in his district. He is effectively accountable for all the governmental programs in the district. This exposure at such an early stage is incomparable to any private job. In the later stages, he has the opportunity to work at Policy formulation level and here also the range of the available fields is huge. From railways to finance, aviation to manufacturing, it is the officers of these exalted services which are still the steel frame of Indian administration. In addition to the diverse opportunities, these services also offer you the respect, recognition and prestige. The security of the job in All India and Central services is also constitutionally protected.

So far so good. Civil Services is prestigious and important. But, what about our engineering/professional/not so professional degrees? Isn’t it for the people from the social science or humanities background? Lets talk about and other myths about this.

The most popular myth about this exam is that it is one of the most difficult exam if not the most difficult exam in the world. It is difficult, accepted yes but then CAT is not easy, neither was the entrance competitions you have already faced till now. It is interesting in the sense that you are competing against the bright students from every streams. You are fighting for a place with the people from the IITs, IIMs, AIIMS and the best colleges of India. This particular exam in that sense is mighty equalizer. Whatever some people might say the exam does not favor any particular stream or region or section. What it does require in liberal dosage is the patience and the commitment of honest hard work. The difficulty is not so much in the quality of the exam per se but the depth and width of coverage it requires.

The other important myth is about the exam being more suited for the students from social sciences background. Although, it helps to have prior understanding about the history, polity and economy of India , but there is nothing that cannot be acquired. In fact, if we analyze the available data , the fact comes out that there is fair representation of people from different backgrounds. If you have followed the news related to UPSC exam in the previous months, you might have come across to the demands from a certain section of students in fact the exam favors people from engineering background. The truth lies somewhere in between.

Now why should I as an engineer make this choice of civil services as career leaving behind my beloved engineering which I enjoy and which pays me well. This question is purely personal and it is related to a more basic one. What is your approach in choosing your career? Or is there any approach whatsoever. It could be like most of us: A series of continuing chance events or is there any method to the madness.

Everyone has to decide for himself where does his or her interest lie. I tell you about my situation. I choose engineering degree because I was good at Maths in my school and if you are from Bihar and are good at Maths you choose engineering! If you are not you choose Medicine. Effectively it turns out to be your basic graduation degree. In case you love engineering and would like to be working in the area of high end problem solving , great , you should continue with it. But, if you don’t particularly ‘love’ engineering and you want to do an MBA after engineering or you are joining a software firm to do an MBA afterwards, then you need to ask why you are doing it. Here I am not saying that people who are doing an MBA or working in software firms are doing anything wrong. What is important to understand that we need people who are interested in the things they are doing in every domain be It public or private.

Moreover, Its also important to understand that civil services are not merely any other career option. A representation in these services is a marker of the participation of the different groups of this diverse nation. We keep hearing that the representation of Muslims in civil services is stuck around 2-3 percent and it is true too. The experts have gone into the reasons for this and it has been shown the fault lies both ways. The Muslim community at times feels disadvantaged but it is important to analyze that are we giving proper importance to these services. Yes the final ratio of selected Muslim candidates is skewed but is it not skewed at the first stage of appearing in the prelims stage itself. The need of the hour is that the best and brightest of our students come forward and take up this challenge. More and more students , boys as well as girls need to seriously think these services as a career option. All of you in AMU are capable to qualify. The only needed thing is earnest effort.

Joh abr yahan se uttha hai who saare jahan pe barsega

  • By Modassar Shafi,Deputy Commissioner IRS

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December 4, 2019

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