In my opinion, an essential prerequisite to being qualified for the Indian Administrative Services is appreciation and blind glorification of the government’s work. Though not stated explicitly in the UPSC syllabus, the glorification forms a cheat code of sorts to join the prestigious civil services. These allegations may seem a little far fetched unless you are a subscriber to the hallowed and time tested Competition Success Review magazine.
The content creation team at CSR, according to the information in the magazine, comprises of a team of retired college professors and academicians, associated with UPSC exam training institutes. The various sections catering to the various requirements of a civil services aspirant are truly informative. The information is well collated and descriptively mentioned. There are pages dedicated to the Indian economy, independence struggle, constitution, world and Indian affairs. All of them, except that on history, is a tribute to the ‘developmental’ policies initiated by the central government.
From the testimonials of successful aspirants, (if they were to be believed), it is to be understood that, the CSR team was quite right about the importance of appreciation of the government. Through the means of information-imparting, channels such as these unknowingly and yet successfully create and propagate an ideology.
A good proportion of the successful candidates join their respective cadres with a fully formed ideology. Hence, the bureaucracy, through the exams that admit them, is taken into confidence and forms a buffer between dissenters and the decision-makers. During colonial times also, the Indian Civil Services was at first reserved for just the British, and even when it was opened to Indians, most of them were sympathisers of the British. For want of basic education and English proficiency, the lower class, (the most affected), was systemically excluded from the ICS, to keep dissent at bay.
The September 2019 issue of the CSR Magazine carried forward the same trend. The opening article was about the events in Kashmir, and it was rightly titled “Modi’s Masterstroke.” Echoing our Home Minister’s words, CSR content creators reasserted that Article 370 was indeed a ‘historical blunder‘ that has now been rectified. The ‘history and geography‘ has been through ‘the rectification‘, changed greatly. It was ‘swift and momentous’, the article went on. Though clarified by eminent constitutional experts of the likes of A.G. Noorani, and published in various news journals, the articles emphasised the government’s version that the provision was only ‘temporary‘. It was hailed as one of the many steps taken by the government that will lead our country towards ‘the golden path‘ of development. The article also implores the people of Kashmir to understand their government’s benevolence.
The very next page is a one-page description of why the Muslim Women ( Protection of Rights of Marriage) Bill, 2019 is the “ultimate solution” for everything the Muslim women had been facing over centuries. The amendment to RTI Act, the NIA (amendment) Bill etc. has also been similarly lauded.
This exposes a nefarious trend. We do not think the CSR is in any way connected with the government or has political leanings. But to crack this rather tough exam, one needs to let go of their beliefs and principles and follow a state-approved set of doctrines. These bureaucrats, hence, form a group that stands with the government unquestioningly, no matter what.
The recent resignation of Mr. Kannan Gopinathan from the civil services has to be looked at from this perspective.
Since civil servants are looked at with awe and respect by the general public, their opinions matter, their principles and ideologies matter. Shaping their thought process, essentially, also shapes their administration, and restricts their questioning capacity. Magazines like the CSR are only the first step in the making of an IAS officer. The complete conversion of the civil servants occurs over the years; until a point is reached where they become puppets in the hands of the administration. The whole process has made the once prestigious civil services not so prestigious anymore.