Entering the Life of an IAS Aspirant in Delhi via HT

Entering the Life of an IAS Aspirant in Delhi

In the second week of April this year, Batra cinema in Delhi's Mukherjee Nagar was running four shows of Main Tera Hero, starring Varun Dhawan, Ileana D'cruz and Nargis Fakhri every day. But there was no way of knowing that. Because the digitally printed mugshots of the stars were plastered over by blurry, poorly-scanned faces of sought-after lecturers and civil service success stories: the heroes of Mukherjee Nagar, the largest IAS ghetto in New Delhi.

The civil service in India isn't just a national obsession; it's a rite of passage for most twenty-somethings, who at least once in their lifetimes consider sitting for the tough, three-tier exam spaced out over 12 months. According to some estimates, around 5,36,506 candidates applied for the preliminary exam in 2012 alone.

Most aspirants end up in Delhi's Mukherjee Nagar, Rajinder Nagar or Jia Sarai - the famed IAS settlements of the city, known for their aggressive coaching institutes. With around 50,000 students in Mukherjee Nagar alone and more pouring in every year, this area of 398 acres (according to figures from the Municipal Corporation of Delhi) is where most aspirants land feet first from all across the country. With as many as 300 coaching institutes running classes for around 150 students each through the day, it is to the civil service exam what Kota's coaching industry is to the IIT exam.

Or that's what Ashutosh Kumar (name changed on request) believed 12 years ago, when he came to Delhi from the small town of Purnia in Bihar, propelled by his family's collective aspirations, along with his own desire for a challenging career. It took him two years to fully acclimatise himself to the dizzyingly competitive pace of Mukherjee Nagar. "I appeared for my first attempt without even realising how tough the exam was. It was only when I saw people around me studying for almost 18 hours every day, that I understood what it takes to clear it."


Courtesy: Hindustan Times