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Civil Service as a Career Option 18 December, 2012

Dr. B.Ashok
Dr. B.Ashok

Dr. B.Ashok, IAS, Vice Chancellor, Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University led the discussion on “Civil Service as a Career Option” on Online Gurukul via A-VIEW on 18th December 2012.

Civil service as an instrument of State is distinguished from military services. Civil services run most of the day to day services, projects, programs and implement the policy of the civil government as opposed to defense services that safeguards the nation in its frontiers.

Indian constitution provides some constitutional protection to civil servants which makes it extremely difficult to remove an officer from the services. This enables the officers to speak their mind with the political leadership that comes to power from time to time.

Life in civil services is very different from how it is portrayed in the public media. There is very little room for heroism and the essential elements that civil services support are formulation and implementation of policies. So, the required attitude and skills for civil servants are tenacity, good language skills, presentation skills, analytical skills and objectivity rather than brilliance in any particular subject or a very high level of intelligence.

Civil Service offers lot of opportunities for on the job learning as every day brings in lot of new knowledge, challenges, new ways to look at an issue, new ways to deliver and so on and so forth. Civil servants are close to the public all the time. So, when you deliver results, rewards in terms of the general public appreciation are very high in public service. But, you also get brickbats for non-performance.

Public service is undergoing a period of transition, particularly after 2000. The role, impact and expectation from civil servants are not what it was used to be. The role has substantially changed after the economic liberalization of the 1990s.

Indian Administrative Services basically advises policy. These policies are drawn from experience of development within the country and elsewhere. A service like the IAS essentially brings its experience in delivering the programs at the field level to the high table of formulating policies. Indian Administrative Service also works as a platform of translation for quite critically focused technologists and the generalist politicians. Civil Service is a career where you work with elected representatives throughout your career. So, if you dislike politics and politicians, you may not like life in public services.

All India Services generally serve the states. So, it is an instrument of federalism in India. All the state services above certain levels are manned by officers recruited to national standards. This ensures that states have a minimum standard of administering the executive cadre. It also solves the problem of central bureaucracy to an extent.

The economic liberalization has also resulted in an explosion of the catchment area of recruitment for higher services. Previously, till the late 80s, the largest cities used to send the highest number of civil servants, but now group B towns like Trichur or Guntur send the most of the successful candidates.

Dr.Ashok also gave a few pointers for success in the civil service examinations such as

  • Very strong foundation of language. Quality of spoken and written language, primarily English
  • Analytical skills
  • Active physical profile. It is important to have good stamina
  • Balance in your views and opinions
  • Very comprehensive reading
  • Engage in community enterprise
  • Positive attitude and smiling countenance