Civil services examination process becoming tougher, says former IAS officer

U. Sagayam was speaking at a panel discussion jointly organised by Veranda IAS and The Hindu in Chennai on Saturday; other panelists at the event included Income Tax Additional Commissioner V. Nandakumar, IPS officer Senthamarai Kannan and The Hindu International Affairs Editor Stanly Johny

Updated - March 26, 2023 02:09 pm IST

Published - March 25, 2023 06:49 pm IST - CHENNAI

V. Nandakumar Additional Commissioner, Income Tax, Chennai, speaking at the panel discussion on Saturday. Senthamarai Kannan, IPS, U. Sagayam, former IAS officer, and Stanly Johny, International Affairs Editor, The Hindu are seen along with the panel’s moderator, Aloysius Xavier Lopez, Special Correspondent, The Hindu.

V. Nandakumar Additional Commissioner, Income Tax, Chennai, speaking at the panel discussion on Saturday. Senthamarai Kannan, IPS, U. Sagayam, former IAS officer, and Stanly Johny, International Affairs Editor, The Hindu are seen along with the panel’s moderator, Aloysius Xavier Lopez, Special Correspondent, The Hindu. | Photo Credit: VELANKANNI RAJ B.

The examination process of selecting candidates for the civil services, by the Union Public Service Commission is becoming increasingly tough, said former IAS officer U. Sagayam.

Speaking at a panel discussion on ‘Why civil services is the key to modern Indian aspirations’ organised jointly by education centre Veranda IAS and The Hindu, Mr. Sagayam said information garnered from previous years’ examinations indicate that the cut-off marks are obviously low. “Even when you have fewer vacancies, the cut-off has remained low. It is indeed very important for the candidates of civil services examinations to have a thorough understanding of the cut-off marks. Such an understanding is really helpful,” he said.

Pointing to the increase in the number of vacancies to 1,105 in the notification for civil service examinations by the UPSC this year, Mr. Sagayam said there is a chance of low cut off marks this year, as the vacancies have increased. The number of candidates appearing in that particular year and the nature of the examination are some of the other factors that determine the cut off marks. “It is one of the toughest examinations in the world. A large number of less competent students are eliminated. But those who have the innate desire to crack the exam, have become successful IAS officers after failing in several attempts. You have to have the right teachers, mentors, the right coaching centres, if at all you prefer,” said Mr. Sagayam.

Income Tax Additional Commissioner V. Nandakumar said the personality of an aspirant determined the success in this examination. “The focus of the new system of examination has shifted from subject orientation to aptitude orientation. Aptitude in this examination is all about comprehension. Many engineering graduates fail in this examination because it is not the mathematical ability the UPSC is asking for, it is the logical ability and aptitude. When you enter the administration, you have to comprehend the overall context, assess what happened in history, and make quick decisions,” said Mr. Nandakumar.

IPS officer Senthamarai Kannan said many of the aspirants from states such as Tamil Nadu have not cleared the exam because most of the candidates start preparation only after graduation unlike in other States where aspirants get an opportunity to prepare during their college days.  

The Hindu International Affairs Editor Stanly Johny said the students who appear for the civil services examination have to understand major developments including the challenges in the global order, challenges in the continental periphery and maritime periphery of the country, the return of the Taliban, the crisis in Pakistan, the arrival of China as a major power in West Asia and Russia’s conflict with Ukraine and how India would have to take difficult decisions in the event of a conflict breaking out around Taiwan and the shrinking of strategic space.

Candidates who took the VEST entrance test received scholarships for the residential programme for civil service exam coaching at the event, on Saturday. The top five candidates received 100% scholarships. A total of 112 candidates received graded scholarships.

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