Indian civil services exams – a viewpoint


The main and the biggest flaw with the current scheme of selection is with the eligibility criterion related to the age band. The current age band is rather very embryonic for someone to take up the responsible and a sensible job of a civil servant. The sense of service is seen to be completely missing inside the heart and mind of selected candidates and the feeling of a ruler deep-rooted.

No wonder many of them do not know how to get a demand draft from a bank or what is the procedure for obtaining a driving license or how to apply for a gas connection. Lack of realization of the pain one can undergo while dealing with such fundamental problems is one of the reasons why these are still considered as a problem in many areas of our country. The loopholes in public distribution system, the power theft, the babudom in public offices, the lack of transparency in working style etc. all have their source deep rooted inside the fact that one has to undergo these processes as an ordinary man to understand and appreciate them.

The mere fact that after qualifying for the civil services, a candidate starts leading the life with silver spoon is fascinating but unjustifiable. A civil servant in today’s scenario is neither answerable to higher ups nor to the public. The fundamental immunity that they enjoy by qualifying two levels of tests which most of the laborious but unsuitable do, is awesome. The selection process is mostly bookish irrespective of a well known fact that the toppers in exams may not be smart enough in managing things. And that is the reason they get flopped most of the times. The civil services are like any other industries, one need to be more practical than bookish to join and succeed there. But unlike other industries, getting experience through live projects may not fetch desired results. The charm of civil services remains because the qualified candidates become the unquestionable rulers in the name of servants. Have we ever thought of rating a DM performance based on the voting through ballots like an election? Make the slabs. A civil servant getting below 30% shall be shown the door, for 30-50%, a review need to be conducted, for 50-60%, a transfer and above 60% the civil servant may continue unquestioned. This way, the answerability to the public instead of politicians, can be ensured.

The judiciary on the other side gives a better opportunity to its aspirants for Higher Judicial Services (HJS) by limiting the minimum age as 35 to write the exams. It will be judicious to compare the PCS (J) to the State Civil Services and the HJS to the Indian Civil Services for appreciating the levels. By the time a lawyer becomes eligible for HJS he or she noticeably understands the judicial system and its way of functioning, its strengths and loopholes. The maturity level also increases and so increases the sense of responsibility. It is one of the reasons why judiciary is still not completely eaten up by the corruption bug. The sense of appreciation of the job had hindered that rotten process. Whatever order of corruption exists, it is fused in persons joined immediately after their degree or the ones who had spent their most of the time in preparing for the exams. Even those who practiced law for few years were found succumbing to the corruption bug as the maturity and accountability wisdom takes quite an extra time to prosper and ripen.

No person in this world can shoulder the responsibility of carrying out jobs in better and answerable way than a person who had successfully dealt with his or her spouse and kids. Our outlook completely changes when we nurture our kids. Even a poisonous, selfish and evil mind changes its course for better when it spends some time with kids and spouse. The job of civil servants requires maturity and promoting young blood will do no justice to the country’s most responsible job. There need to be more than 5 years of professional experience required to step into the shoes of a civil servant and fit in smoothly.

One more reason for increasing the age band is the feeling of frustration that is injected on subordinates, when a toddler boss takes up the reign of administration. Their attitude towards their job and associated outlook also changes. The team spirit is lost and the officer is secluded in an untold and undeclared way. The chauvinists take over the management and the administration sees from their eyes only. The comfort zones are redefined and the officer adapt to them for convenience and survival.

The bottom up approach works in a better way in our country’s working environment. People learn and appreciated things and issues in a better way by experiencing them. No amount of training can substitute that. Most of the times these trainings are more theoretical in nature and they force the officer to look into things as an administrative being. This top down approach is the biggest hurdle in appreciating the issues, understanding their seriousness, and tackling them. It imparts a sense of royalty inside the officer while dealing with the issues. That aggravates the issue further and most of the time results in the non-accomplishment of the tasks.

 The standard of the interview is the brightest feature of the current civil services selection procedure. However, in spite of that, the quality of the short listed candidates is not the best. Various in-service persons with their below standard behavior and conduct had forced the public to point fingers towards the selection procedure. Many a times it is seen that an officer of the level of a district collector not able to communicate properly. The selection criterion shall be to choose best among the best instead of best among the equals. The difference lies in the filtering scheme for interview, the two levels of tests.

There should be a clear filtering of the candidates for the main exams, keeping in view his/her capabilities to shoulder the key responsibility as a civil servant rather than a king. The preliminary test shall have two papers; one general studies (the way it is conducted currently) and the other to test the maturity, honesty, loyalty, decision making skills, approach to a problem, the political mind-set of a candidate, the social exposure, etc. The pattern for the Mains examination shall be the same with added paper on trouble-shooting of existing social, economic, political problems, lateral thinking, etc. Stress on computer knowledge and skills shall be given at all levels.

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