Civil Services Exams: Know It All

Posted on April 14, 2011 in Education


By Ankita Verma:

The career in civil services has no parallel in terms of power, prestige, idealism and the ability to make a change. It forms the backbone of the Indian Government which comprises of all the departments which run the State administration. A highly competitive and challenging field, it involves variety of jobs in different departments.

Higher civil services under the Central Government include All India services and Central Services. All India Services ,common to the central and state government, include Indian Administrative Service (IAS), the Indian Police Service (IPS) and the Indian Forest Service (IFS). The Central services comprise of Indian foreign Service, Indian Revenue Service, Indian Customs & central Excise Service, Indian Railway services, Indian postal Service, Indian Information Service etc. Not surprisingly, IAS is ubiquitously considered the best service to get into. And also the toughest, with only 50 vacancies nationwide.

Many aspirants express their desire to serve the nation, or change the system as the reason for pursuing civil services. For some, civil services provides them the shortcut to the ‘babu-dom’, the palatial government flat, a car with a beacon, 24/7 servants and a general aura. Plus, the general perception of an abysmally low work-pressure, which means one is free to cater to one’s indulgences. A five-day week with numerous leaves sanctioned, and the government provisions for health, housing etc, makes civil services a natural choice for many.

However, civil services only have the surface appearance of being the a comfortable job with numerous benefits tagged to it. It is a job with enormous challenges, which requires a definite type of aptitude and perseverance to succeed. When the government of India is your employer, it is no mean feat to constantly deal with huge contracts, resources and people everyday.

To say that civil services has a certain amount of stigma associated with it, wouldn’t be wrong. One major reason for students to give it a miss is the amount of political interference associated with an IAS or an IPS officer. ‘Bohot corruption hai‘, ‘koi integrity nahi hai‘ are the frequent complaints. With the kind of power one has, the daily dalliance with the common man and the authority to change their lives, it is only natural that the government will exert a significant amount of control on these executives.

Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducts an All India Combined Competitive Examination for Civil Services. Recent times have seen a change in the pattern. It is a three-staged process. The primary stage is passing the CSAT or the Civil Services Aptitude Test. In place of the one common general awareness paper and an optional paper upon the candidate’s choice, there would be two objective-type papers testing aspirant’s aptitude for civil services as well as their ethical and moral dimension of decision-making under CSAT.

Both these papers will carry equal weightage. The change in pattern was put into effect to counter the various doubts aspirants had about the scaling system for varying subjects. The second stage entails a series of 9 papers in an essay type model. The exam has questions ranging from 2 marks to 60 marks, which is to test the decision making ability and reasoning ability of the candidates. Out of the nine papers, four papers are on optional subjects, as chosen by the aspirant.The papers of optional subjects are based on the syllabus of graduate level. There are 2 question papers and each question paper consists of 5 questions of 60 marks each. The questions require lengthy descriptive answers, which checks the candidates writing speed and skill. Also there is a 200 mark essay paper where one is required to write an essay on a specific topic. The choice of topic will be given. The interview in the third stage, also referred to as The Personality Test, aims to judge if the candidates have the requisite qualities of an administrator or not. To appear at the Civil Service Examination one has to be a Citizen of India, between the age group of 21-30 years and must hold a degree from any recognized university. Maximum four attempts are offered to the candidates.

Today lacs of youngsters work extremely hard to get into that government office that may not be as luxurious or extravagant as the ones found in an MNC because the pride that comes with the designation of a Civil Servant is bigger than everything else.