Why should I pursue civil services as a career instead of career in corporate or academic area?

In the last few years, we have seen a large number of college graduates and young professionals after having experienced the lure of corporate jobs in MNCs, considering to join the Civil Services of India.

The number of applicants appearing in the Civil Services Exam (CSE) of India has more than doubled in the last few years.When it comes to career choices, the Civil Services of India has always been considered the best career choice for Arts graduates! But, of late, graduates and young professionals from Science, Commerce, Business Management, etc., all have started appearing for CSE to get into the prestigious Civil Services of India.

CSE paves the way for becoming an IAS, IPS, IFS, IRS (20+ jobs/services) officer. The wide variety of jobs within the ambit of the Civil Services offer greater sphere of authority and power than any other services in India. Civil services offer the rare opportunity to satisfy personal ambition as well as indulge in social welfare.

Civil Services Exam conducted by the Union Public Service Commission is one of the most prestigious exams of our country. Every year lakhs of aspirants appear for the exam. Ever since the 90’s when the country’s economy opened up, immense opportunities have knocked at the doors of youngsters across the country. The IT and ITES industries have fulfilled the dreams of young and old alike and this field continues to employ thousands of people every year.

Despite all this, lakhs of youngsters across India yearn for a government job. And when it comes to government jobs, the IAS is king. Many students opt to enter into the field of civil services after their graduation that offers them a challenging and rigorous career of ambitious opportunities. An Economic Times poll revealed that for more than 70 per cent participants, being an IAS officer is their dream job. It gives the chance of gaining power and authority, all the while being compassionate to serve the country. This is why increasingly many students are opting for the dream career of being an IAS.

Top reasons that make IAS a lucrative career option are repay to the nation by serving it with dignity and honor, prestige and glory associated with civil services matches no other, IAS is the epitome of state power, excellent perks and salary, job security,  work life balance, feeling of worth. Prestige, Power, Charm, Glory – Civil Services has it all.

#The respect and authority: Students aspire to opt for a career where they will be respected and where they can have the ultimate authority of their own life. The position of an IAS officer is respected and praised by the entire nation and the respect remains unmatched. This is one of the topmost reasons why IAS is an admirable career choice.

#The job security: Once you clear your examinations and are elected with the position of an IAS officer, you cannot be easily fired, unless due to an extreme emergency. Many IAS officers are said to retire at the age of 60, and they can even get an extension if required.

#Great pay balance: IAS officers are paid well and there are also additional medical benefits and other amenities that make this job a highly payable one.

#Contribution to society: If you’re the who aims to make a difference in the world, then this career is certainly for you. Being an IAS officer gives you tremendous power to create and implement policies for the betterment of the people. You can contribute effectively to making policies and also take action against unwanted and evil activities in the country.

#Self-satisfaction: Those who enter into this field, are trained into becoming a perfect, disciplined and patient idol. With qualities like excellent communication skills, time management, analytical ability, focused and creative decision making, becoming an IAS officer will give you immense satisfaction of being able to contribute to society.

Anil Swarup is former Secretary, Government of India and author of the book 'Not Just A Civil Servant' mentions that:

“If I were to be born again and if I could make it (with the increasing competition and fewer vacancies), I would like to be an IAS officer yet again. The reason is simple. No other job on the earth gives you this much freedom and these many opportunities. This is one of those rare jobs where you can afford to remain honest in an increasingly vitiated socio-political environment.

The IAS provides tremendous avenues for working towards public welfare and deriving immense satisfaction that more than compensates the comparative disadvantage in financial terms vis-à-vis a lucrative private-sector assignment. I use the term “kick” in my recently released book, “Ethical Dilemmas of a Civil Servant” to describe the enormous sense of satisfaction that one can derive, as I did, out of helping the helpless and the poor who still repose a lot of faith in civil servants. One has the opportunity to serve the richest of the rich and the poorest of the poor.

Despite certain developments in the recent past, there is still a lot of authority vested in most of the positions occupied by an IAS officer during the course of her/his career. It is a different matter that some officers choose to abdicate this authority in lieu of some gain elsewhere. Whether they actually gain (at the cost of the service) or finally lose out is a moot point.

Each officer also has the option of joining politics post-retirement. Many do join. Some do it even while in service but do so discreetly even though it entails some risk and reap the “benefits” while in service and a lot more post-retirement. Some can even get away with a few wrongs as they know how to be on the right side of politics.  It doesn’t really matter to such officers because they are so focused on their own good that they are oblivious of the damage they cause to the so-called steel frame. They couldn’t care less as the IAS offers an opportunity to thrive to them as well.

IAS officers can also afford to be just honest and do nothing beyond just being honest. They can treat honesty as an end in itself. They can distrust everyone else and treat the rest of the world as dishonest. They can consciously choose not to appreciate the difference between “accommodation” and “compromise”. For them all accommodation is a compromise. They also survive. Some of them even thrive in their own misery as they wear their misery (that includes the number of transfers) as medallions.

Ironically, the IAS has also the potential of shielding the corrupt. A few years ago, it was believed that the high and mighty could not be brought to book. However, thankfully, on account of informed public opinion and media glare, things are changing, and at least some such bureaucrats are on the run.

The inefficient too can survive and even thrive. Once they pass the exam and keep their boss and/or those in power happy (not necessarily with good work), their promotions are secured. Though they may not reach the top (perhaps they may), they can still enjoy life, play badminton (now, golf) or indulge in some other activity till 0900 hours, arrive at the office at 1030 hours, take a lunch break for a couple of hours and return to the office after a ‘well-earned’ siesta and then sit till late in the office to impress upon others how hard they have to work.

In many states, some smart ones are able to retain the official, earmarked residence for years in a city even as they occupy another house in another city consequent to their transfer. There would be many more such illustrations. Fortunately, very few bureaucrats fall in this category but the fact that some of us do enjoy such privileges indicates towards the availability of such options. No other service offers such ‘facilities’.”

All said and done, the IAS provides you an option to seek your own road to salvation. In fact, you can not only choose your own road; you can redefine ‘salvation’

The reason to become IAS can be anything but should be strong enough to keep you determined while you prepare for the job and dedicated to your duty once you join the service.

In a nutshell, Civil Services encompass all that a person aspires for:

  • Job Satisfaction should be the most important terms of reference for anyone working in any sector. A famous quote should sum it up “If I couldn’t see the upside, I couldn’t be bothered, and as soon as I couldn’t see the upside in that job I started looking elsewhere.”
  • Opportunity to participate in nation building and make a difference in the lives of people.
  • Diversity of work: Civil servants contribute in the decision-making process of country, represent the nation at world forums, maintain the of law and order, participate in developmental work, travel the lengths and breadths of the country meeting different types of people, etc., etc.
  • Salary: Since the 7th pay commission salaries of the Civil Servants have come at par with those in the corporate sector. Apart from the pay scale, the perks and subsidies provided to civil servants are excellent.
  • Civil Services are considered symbols of great power and prestige.
  • Job Security: Civil servants cannot be fired easily and that offers them a deep sense of job security. Once selected, civil servants work till the age of 60 and it is possible to get an extension.

A person who wants to participate closely in the process of building society and wants to bring about positive social change should certainly try for Indian Civil Services. There is nothing better than this!