Civil services aspirants have to cope with immense stress as the UPSC exam draws nearer
Food, health and recreation are trivialities that UPSC aspirants cannot spare time for. With limited number of attempts and nearly five to six lakh applicants taking the exam each year, out of which only a 1,000 or less make the cut, UPSC exam is one of the toughest exams to crack.
Most aspirants come to cities like Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata and Hyderabad for preparation. Many of them don’t believe in cooking for themselves as it means cutting down on precious time meant for studying. As a result they revert to tiffinwalas, whose food quality is questionable. Many students have reported cases of food poisoning and stomach ulcers.
Living alone, managing expenses, cooking are added pressures to the existing ones of studying at hours on end, keeping up at coaching institutes, fee and health concerns. Many aspirants face societal and peer pressure along with the pressure of competition.
According to psychologist Dr. Rippan Sippy, who runs a clinic in Rajender Nagar in Delhi, in the past couple of months, many aspirants have come in reporting cases of emotional breakdown and anxiety. “Preparing for civil services affects the students physically, emotionally, socially and psychologically as they are disconnected from the outside world… many of them turn to heavy drinking and smoking,” said Dr. Sippy. “In the last one month, I have seen nearly 20 cases of anxiety and depression among these aspirants who come from the age group of 22-28 years.”
The coaching institutes also put pressure on the students which “they consider necessary for focusing on the preparation”, said a student of Rao's Coaching Institute. “We are asked to study at least 10 hours a day, and increase this to 15-18 hours when the exam approaches nearer,” the student informed.
However, many UPSC aspirants have started practising yoga and meditation to de-stress while some engage in outdoor sports. “I play volleyball for an hour in the morning with my friends, all of whom are preparing for UPSC,” said Siddharth Mishra. For an exam like UPSC, where there is cut-throat competition, the only ray of hope for these aspirants is to somehow clear the exam or else there is just disappointment, Siddharth remarked.