IAS Preparation


 The ailing Indian Bureaucratic System needs reforms to counter obstinacy and silence assumed by the officers.

Kannan Gopinathan, Former Indian Civil Servant, told The Hindu in October 2019 that, he was ‘more disturbed by the silence of good people than atrocities committed by the administration’. A few days after the abrogation of Article 370, Gopinathan resigned from the services as a mark of protest. This raises an important question: Why are Indian Bureaucrats silent?

The Civil Services Examination holds the responsibility of assessing these bureaucrats before they become one. To sail through, candidates must be well versed with subjects like polity, history, and geography, among others. Most of the candidates eventually get ‘manufactured’ in order to clear the examination, owing to a humongous syllabus. These candidates, therefore, have become word-perfect in Indian Polity and the holy book which is supposed to steer it, the Constitution of India. The Civil Servants of India have an innate responsibility of guarding the Constitution. But, silence is the weakest weapon in times of crisis. Except for Gopinathan, diplomats of India have assumed utter silence.

Historically, civil servants have been at one with the Government, owing to laws that prevent them from taking a stand. The Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964, clearly state that “no Government servant shall resort to or in any way abet any form of strike in connection with any matter pertaining to his service or that of any other government servant. It provides for disciplinary action.”

Silence is one thing, obstinacy is another. Civil servants are known to be inflexible and stubborn when it comes to ideological preferences. They tend not to alter their leanings, and history is a witness to that.

Harsh Mander, Former Civil Servant, who quit after 22 years in Service, told the Outlook India Magazine, “There are two factors that guide the bureaucracy: conscience and obedience. I’ve always believed one’s conscience has a higher value as obedience pushes you to fascism. Bureaucrats are servants of the people and not of the Government. How can one be faithful to partisanship especially when it is part of state policy? Bureaucrats enjoy a lot of power. It is in these moments their services are called to test.”

Harsh Mander protested against many laws enacted by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Government. So did S. Sasikanth Senthil, a 2009 batch Karnataka cadre IAS officer, who resigned in 2019, when he felt that his fundamental Right to Expression was being hindered by being a part of the Bureaucratic System.

Their ability to dissent lies in resignation. The system is shaped in such a manner that there is no way for a people’s servant to exercise Freedom of Expression. Naresh Chandra Saxena’s book, What Ails The IAS And Why It Fails To Deliver: An Insider’s View explains why the Indian bureaucratic system is flawed.

Structural reforms in the system are required to counter the injustice faced by the officers. It is time for bureaucrats to speak up.

Feature Image credits: The Print

Kuber Bathla

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The moment a person decides to prepare for IAS, whether being the result of impetuous passion, careful persuasion, or a new formed excitement to ‘try their luck’, he/she is also well aware of the fact that they are now in the race of the largest, toughest and the most demanding competition in the entire world. Yet, at that moment, nothing seems to strike a chord with much intensity. It’s only after a few days, when the real fever sets in and the symptoms of a classic IAS aspirant begin to show

Here are a few common problems and their cures:-

1. I-have-already-achieved-something Syndrome: The mention of preparing for civil service examination has an unusual reaction on people. In the awe of such lofty goal, it gets you both extremely appreciative reactions from friends and relatives, so much so that it already makes you stand on a pedestal. This makes you slightly over-confident and proud.

 Cure: It is imperative to understand that these increasing dialogues are also forming a bridge to an ocean of expectations which will soon leave you burdensome with pressure. The same relatives who are now showering you with praises will also be the ones on the lookout of the result dates much before you, yourself. So keep your focus steady and be your own critic and your own teacher. Do not spoil yourself with others’ comments. Be your own constant source of encouragement and motivation from the beginning to the end.


2. Chasing the wrong side of the same dream: Keep your eyes on the prize? We agree. But when the list of the rewards only contain red-beaconed white ambassadors, king-sized houses with gardens, and being treated like royalty, then these dreams are only worth spending a few seconds or minutes on, and not to be “guided” with.

Cure: Concentrate on the real sense achievement of becoming a civil servant, which only includes your contributions for the country. Think of all the changes you can make with the powers you’ll gain, instead of the feeling you’ll get with being saluted by others. Think of how proud you’ll feel when you’ll get a chance to represent your own country and its rich heritage, instead of being fascinated by the shopping sprees and around-the-world tours. Instead of the materialistic pursuit, reflect on the satisfaction for the service of your nation and its people.

Want more motivation? Read this list of 5 Amazingly Badass Bureaucrats You Would Be Proud To Know

3. Live-in relationship with insomnia: “Neend ko maaro goli. Sirf padhai pe dhyaan do beta.” is a routinely dialogue, which soon becomes music to the ears of every civil service candidate. After acknowledging the incredibly large syllabus that UPSC has gladly gifted to all its aspirants, not only sleep, but even a few extra minutes spent on eating food or talking to someone on the phone appears to be a sinful waste of time; and why not? For a syllabus as vast and comprehensive as this, it would easily take an eternity to fully finish all the topics of all the given subjects.

Cure: Relax. You don’t need to become a zombie and sacrifice all of your personal time with others. Study hard but not so vigorously that it ends up affecting your health. Don’t get flustered by the amount of material that needs to be studied. Nobody can prepare all and everything. In the end, it’s all about how ‘well’ you have studied, and not ‘how much’. So manage your time correctly to each and every subject, and give your hundred percent to each topic you study, every time. Make every minute count. Don’t study for the sake of studying, to crack the exam. Instead, study to gain new knowledge with tons of curiosity and interest.

Read this quick 5 step guide to help you start your IAS Prep while in college.

4. The jack-ass of all trades and master of none: “Arrey, Mr.Sharma ka beta vahan se coaching leta hai, toh tum kahin aur se kaise?” “In books pe time waste kyun kar rahe ho? Maine jo books boli pehle woh padhke dekho.”- This is where the most confident ones also start sweating under the rays of uncertainty and soon get drowned in the sea of doubts. “Am I doing it the right way? Am I doing it from the right place?” An even worse problem is when even the smartest ones are unable to separate genuine wisdom from verbal toilet paper. Thus, leading to a state of profound perplexity, which if not treated on time can also result in a chronic state.

Cure: Early diagnosis is the best cure. Don’t ignore. Be on a lookout for all the signs/symptoms of wrong medication (also known as, advice). If you’re not feeling comfortable with the prescribed books or new study techniques, change them. Don’t be hesitant or embarrassed to speak out. Not everyone is you, and that is your power. It’s you who should decide what’s best for you and your capabilities. Stick to what you know and what you feel good studying with. It’s your journey, not theirs. Not every advice, freely available to you is right. So take your time to analyze what you can really do before believing all the advice given to you.

5. The fear of missing out (FOMO) Preparing for civil services not only brings about a change in one’s attitude, but also a gradual change in one’s lifestyle. Now this may not seem like a problem at first. But when you see your friends catching up on the latest blockbuster movie or attending a great party, while you’re at home reading about Prithviraj-Jaichand’s legacies or find yourself with bundles of topics in NCERT books yet to be covered, you are bound to feel a little envious. You start to feel cut-off from your friends or the world outside, and feel stuck in your web of responsibilities. Very soon, you start feeling exhausted and become greedy for a change. While some remain unaffected, for others, it becomes a huge problem.

Cure: With some being masters in the art of self control, others find it a little difficult to decline exciting invitations for outings, or don’t mind whiling away a little more time in just ‘chilling’ with others or alone. They feel that they can make up for all the lost time, but then that time never really comes. It is very easy for someone to resolve that they will do it, but very few have the ability to stick to it. It all depends on one’s mental strength to understand what is right and wrong at the deciding point of time and stick to their commitment. Without mental strength, your mind will start making excuses and you will end up putting off all the work that you must do. You need to distance yourself from everyone and everything that you feel are the main cause of your distraction. Realize the true importance of your goals- what made you decide to do this in the first place, and is wasting time on anything else worthy of it? Would you prefer a moment of satisfaction or a lifetime of happiness? This is what it all finally comes down to.

Start slow and Build upon your basics. If you are in college, we would suggest you build your basics on newspaper reading first. It is important to build a good rapport with current affairs and the Civilsdaily android app is a good way to keep up with UPSC related News.

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Shagun Marwah

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