About the Indian Civil Services
Which is the right career for all those of you who are brainy but not MBA or IT oriented... and actually harbour ideals like “serving the nation” -
How to go about with the UPSC examinations :
“ Civil Services ko lock kiya jaaye ".
This profession has recently come into the limelight, thanks to apna KBC winner Harshavardhan Nawathe (he said he is preparing for it) . Although always a hot favourite in Delhi (and esp with the chaps from Bihar) the IAS has never been a sought after career option in Mumbai. But once you realise the scope of these “sarkari” jobs, you just might change your mind!
Career Path :
While still on the right side of 30 you could be the collector of an entire district (a job that requires tremendous managerial skills, and a chance to make a difference). You may go on to acquire the post of secretary or advisor to the Prime Minister/ Chief Minister. These are the guys who work behind the scenes and actually formulate 5 year plans and oil import policies.
You might see yourself travelling all around the world (if u join the IFS - Indian Foreign Service) or play a real life hero by running behind the underworld (IPS lets you do that). Needless to say, the perks of the job are tremendous - in terms of housing, servants and allowances. Corruption does exist, but so do clean bureaucrats who can serve as your role models.
How to get in:
The Civil Services selection remains one of the few untainted exams in India. The examination is conducted by the UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) every year. The announcement of the first stage of the selection process is made in the national dailies in the month of Nov-Dec (so watch out!).
The Employment News carries full details of the total number of vacancies, eligibility conditions, plan of examination, and the date of the round of selection to various Central Services (like IAS, IPS, IFS and Indian services in accounts, customs, revenue, postal, railway, defence etc.)
PS. The applications are accepted only till mid-Jan.
Website: The website www.upsc.gov.in carries full details in case u miss the ads
a) You should have a Bachelor’s Degree in any faculty with minimum 45%.
b) You should be a citizen of India between 21 to 30 years as on August 1 of the year in which you wish to appear.
PS. There are a set of different criteria for the reserved categories.
The competitive examinations at UPSC are in three stages :
1) Preliminary examinations (Prelims):
The prelims are held around May-June.It has objective ie multiple choice questions. There are two papers (duration of each being 2 hrs). a) General studies and b)Optional subject: you can choose from Psychology, Sociology, Philosophy, Agriculture, Maths, Phy, Chem, Stats etc.
Important: It is not compulsory to choose the same subjects of your graduation. The results are declared in July-August and the successful candidates are called for the main examinations.
PS. The prelims score has no bearing for determining the final merit list for the services.
2) Main examination :
The main written examination usually takes place in Oct-Nov, it comprises of 9 papers in all (a lot more strenuous than CAT!) Duration of each paper is 3 hrs.
Language: one of the Indian languages, English, Essay GK and Current Affairs: 2 papers on general studies
Optionals: papers from two subjects that fall in optional-1 and two papers from optional-2 (a choice of subjects is listed by the UPSC in the prospectus)
Candidates who are successful in the main examinations are eligible for an interview which plays a crucial part in the selection.
3) The Interview :The interview calls are sent in March-April of the following year and they take place in the month of April-May. The Board of interviewers look for a well-adjusted personality with the social traits, integrity and qualities of leadership . PS. The number of candidates called for the interview is normally twice the number of vacancies.
BEWARE : The whole process of selection in the civil services takes a full year and when the application process is included it sums up to 18 months in all.
PLEASE NOTE :The main exam score and the interview determines the placement in the final list. You have your say in the choice of service if you have secured a high position, otherwise accept what is offered if not take another attempt (4 attempts permitted) in the general category. Of course you have to start from the prelims all over again.
PS. the I.A.S.occupies the highest order of importance and is usually given first preference by the selected candidates. In recent years Income Tax, Customs etc also have become popular. IFS is not that sought after now.
5 tips for IAS aspirants
1) Be very particular about the subject you choose for prelims, as you will be appearing for an objective type of paper. History, maths, geography may prove to be very scoring. Choose subjects which have availability of books, reading material and guidance. In recent years engineering subjects like civil and electrical can be chosen, giving BEs and IITians an edge (yes! even here they are giving the BAs and BScs a tough fight!)
2) G.K. will definitely pay in your prelims. Reading newspapers, watching TV news and of course quiz shows like KBC is a must.
3) If you have been lucky enough to reach the interview stage book knowledge may not be the only thing you need. Your mental alertness will count as they ask you questions like “How many steps did you walk up to reach here?” or “ What is the colour of the wall behind you ?” - So be prepared.
4) Enhance your personality ‘coz it will definitely be one of the criteria for selection. For IPS physical wellbeing is of great importance, you should be medically fit.
5) Improve your communication skills. IFS aspirants must be proficient in at least one foreign language.
So go ahead, have your say in this political mess of our country and try to make it a better place.
Preparing for the UPSC Exam: There are numerous private coaching institutes and “study circles”. To guide and encourage IAS candidates in Maharashtra the govt has set up
SIAC (State Institute for Administrative Careers), Hazarimal Somani marg (CST) Mumbai-1. Tel :2070942
(You must have Maharashtra domicile to get admission here)
Flash News: The government is contemplating a change in the UPSC selection format which is essentially the same since British times. But, don’t worry - that will definitely take a few years.