The fact that a big share of this year's top 10 posts in the civil services exams have been bagged by professionals from various streams shows that this is still the dream job for many. The topper S. Nagarajan, a Railway Traffic Service official, is a B.Tech from BITS, Pilani, while the second and third spots have been bagged by doctors. Manish Kumar, who stood fifth, is an IIM graduate who chose the services over a plum New York posting.
Incidentally, six of this year's top 10 candidates have taken coaching from the same institute. On the matter of coaching, the toppers have varied views.
Suja K, a student of Economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, did not feel the need to undergo any coaching classes. "I don't think it is necessary at all. I only did mock tests for confidence…," she has quoted as having said. She had Economics and Malayalam literature as her optional subjects.
“Most people want to join the services in order to make a difference to society. A job in the corporate sector may get you good money, but the satisfaction of ushering in social change, of being a part of planning policies for society is what draws most people to the civil services,’ says Sumedha Dwivedi, an IAS topper from Batala in Punjab. She secured 68th rank in the civil services exam this year.
Dr Gaurav Uppal, a Medical Officer with the Health Department, Haryana, who has secured the third rank, says that though the role of civil services has changed with the changing socio-economic- cultural mileau, civil servants are held in high esteem. “This is the best way to affect change in society. A civil servant will make necessary changes for the benefit of the common man, so that he can adjust in the changing socio-economic system,” he says. Agrees Manoj Kumar, who got the 393rd rank. Son of a vegetable vendor, who funded his education by selling fruit juice, Manoj says that it is only in these services that the sheer intelligence and talent of a person counts more than his social standing.
Most of the IAS toppers this year have cleared after making several unsuccessful attempts earlier. “But the unsuccessful attempts cannot be regarded as failure. Each attempt only helps you in avoiding the mistakes made earlier and ultimately leads to success,” says Manoj, who has cleared the examination in his fourth attempt.
He says that since he did not take private coaching, he had to make several attempts before he succeeded. “Coaching is as important as self-study. Coaching helps one get direction and learn management of an examination, besides helping one deal with the interviews,” he says. Agrees Dr Uppal, “Though I prepared for my optionals on my own, the syllabus for General Studies paper is very vast, and so I took coaching from a private institute at Chandigarh.” He says that coaching also helps one deal with interviews more professionally.
Dr Basant Garg, who is perhaps the youngest person to clear the examination, and that too in the first attempt, says that besides coaching for general studies, one has to remain consistent and have concentration in one’s own study. This 23-year-old doctor secured second rank in the examination.
Most of the toppers say that they put in six hours of study on an average every day. But around the time for the civil services Mains, they were putting in 10 to 12 hours of study. After all, the rewards are assured only through hard work, they say.