Just like how the Mauryan Empire established the centralization of rule by highly skilled superintendents or Adhyakshas who looked after various departments, in a largest democratic country like India, it is necessary for an elected government to appoint such highlly skilled people who are the actual makers of the Indian law and policy to strengthen the administrative capacity and to perform critical governmental functions.
Lord Cornwallis, who reformed, modernized, and rationalized the civil service, the “Steel Framework,” led to the modernity and progress of the country after independence.
Who can crack this examination?
Ultimately, it is not an impossible task and is not alone meant for the elitist category. If you can read the newspaper, get updated with what is happening around you, and get in to know the UPSC syllabus, then it is your cup of tea to crack this examination. However, there is a specific skill that we need to acquire to approach this exam and to reach this position which we will know when we start to prepare. We have the best examples of civil servants who were just ordinary people enthusiastic about learning and honest with their profession.
CIVIL SERVICES journey?
It takes a significant effort to hold a position in the final rank list. The journey begins to form 15 lakh applicants, among whom 10 lakh appear for the exam, 13000 clear the prelims and appear for the mains. Only 3000 get cleared through the mains and appear for the personality test. The final rank list contains 1000 candidates, among whom only the first 100 ranks get the IAS.
So, to reach from 15 lakh to the filtered 100 is indeed a challenging journey, but it is not out of the question.
CIVIL SERVICE aspirants and their value system?
Once you become a civil service officer, you know the difference between an ordinary citizen and a bureaucrat. Unfortunately, the difference is vast. You cannot expect a person who learns about the constitution, governance, history, geography, economy, daily current affairs, and much more to behave and think at a limited level.
She/he will have a highly intellectual way of thinking and viewpoint when approaching any situation. In our present scenario, where spirituality and religion are criticized, a bureaucrat gives equal importance to both according to what they have learnt. They are always centrist without getting biased to both left and right.
UPSC conducts the civil service examination at three levels throughout the year. It includes the PRELIMS followed by MAINS and then the PERSONALITY TEST.
Prelims are an objective examination with two separate papers to be cleared on the same day in 2 different sessions.
1st paper is GENERAL STUDIES 1, which consists of 100 multiple choice questions to be solved within 2 hours. Each question carries two marks with a 1/3 negative mark for every wrong answer, totaling 200 marks. It consists of questions from a structured syllabus published by the commission that has history, geography, polity, etc., as well as the current affairs of the period.
2nd paper is the CIVIL SERVICES APTITUDE TEST (CSAT), consisting of 80 multiple-choice questions to be solved within 2 hours. Each question carries a 2.5 mark with a 1/3 negative mark for every wrong answer, so a total of 200 marks. It consists of questions about logical reasoning, analytical ability, general mental ability, comprehension, etc. This is a qualifying paper and requires only 33% of the total.
When prelims get cleared, the mains exam is entirely subjective and has nine papers to be answered in 3 hours each. An analytical approach to current affairs has to be brought here to score good marks. This includes 2 Qualifying papers, 1 Essay paper, 4 General Studies papers, and 2 Optional papers.
Paper A: (One of the Indian languages to be selected by the candidate from the languages included in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution).
Paper B: English
The papers on Indian languages and English (paper A and paper B) will be of matriculation or equivalent standard and will be of qualifying nature. The marks (300 each) obtained in these papers will not be counted for ranking.
Paper 1: Essay (250 marks)
General studies include papers to be counted for merit. They are:
Paper 2: General Studies- I
(Indian heritage and culture, History and Geography of the world and the society.) (250 marks)
Paper 3: General Studies – II
(Governance, Polity, Social justice, and International relations.) (250 marks)
Paper 4: General Studies – III
(Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security, and Disaster management.) (250 marks)
Paper 5: General Studies – IV
(Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude.) (250 marks)
Then comes the two optional papers on the same subject that carry 250 marks each, which we can choose based on our interest in that particular subject since it requires a deep study and to be answered in precise and deep.
Mains examination and answer writing?
It becomes crucial how you manage to answer 20 questions in about 3 hours with limited words on a provided booklet. So, for the mains exam, you have around 9 min for each question in which you have to read the question, understand, and write and complete the answer. The skill to effectively present the answer within limited words and time is being judged here. The language need not be more sophisticated. It should be readable and simple as well.
The personality test is the final stage of the CIVIL SERVICES examination, where you get evaluated based on your character and mindset to become an officer. It is conducted in the UPSC office at Dholpur House, Shahjahan Road, New Delhi.
It carries 275 marks, the largest total for each main exam paper, proving how important it is to build a character to become a civil servant rather than only gaining theoretical knowledge. The panel of 5 members will be judging you based on every aspect of your personality.
The mains exam (except the qualifying papers) and the personality test can be given in other languages included in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution. However, it will be good enough to use the English medium for the mains and the personality test because, during the interview, the opinion we convey may only reach the panel partially since it is mediated by a translator.
How to use social media?
Social media, when used effectively, can be a beneficial tool to crack the exam since it provides numerous platforms to refer, share and learn. We have travelled a lot and reached an era where we are not only provided with the newspapers but even video lectures, live classes, UPSC previous year question papers from educational sites, mobile applications, and platforms to cast our opinion on what we study on behalf of the exam. The knowledge is at our fingertips. However, it is we who decide the way social media should be used. Rather than deactivating the accounts, it will be preferable to follow those beneficial for our preparation.
A message to the aspirants?
” You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.”
It is all about the effort and courage you take to complete this journey to have a new beginning where you become a ray of hope to the people who depends on you. When it comes to cracking the exam, it is all about determination and never giving up mentality. Whenever you get tired and have the urge to give up, remember why you’ve started!