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Increasing the attempts and the age limit-- is it producing better talent for the bureaucracy?.

"UPSC grants two more attempts to civil service aspirants" , " IAS aspirants has reason to cheer", "Two additional attempts & age limit relaxed for Civil Service". These were some of the headlines which were there in newspapers after the Government decided to increase the age limit as well as the number of attempts for appearing in the civil services examination conducted by the constitutional body Union Public Service Commission. This decision by the government was welcomed by all. It also gave the aspirants a reason to cheer up especially to those who have exhausted all their four attempts in the previous years. It gave them a new ray of light in a completely dark tunnel.

Civil Services Examination is considered as the most important examination of the country as on the basis of this examination, the persons who will hold the most prestigious positions in the government offices are selected. The Officers on these posts must have certain skills which would enable them to solve problems and serve the people. These may be strategy making, Decision making, problem solving etc, to name a few. The examination aims to check these qualities in the candidates along with how much knowledge a candidate possess. Every year lakhs of aspirants apply for this examination but only a few taste success. Hence the success rate is very small. Earlier the maximum number of attempts for the general category were 4 and the upper age limit being 30 years. Now it has been changed to 6 maximum attempts for general category and the upper age limit is increased to 32 years.

The Government's move to increase the age and attempts will certainly help, not only the students but the government also. It will help in increasing the efficiency of the bureaucracy as better talent will now be available to man the important posts. It has been seen that the civil servants lack experience of the problems faced by the people. At times they face difficulty in implementation of programmes & schemes. The only experience which they get is at their respective training academies after selection – at Mussoorie, Hyderabad, Nagpur etc – according to the service for which they are choosen. They didn't try to get any experience of the outside world before appearing for the exam as the age limit is less and they try to get into the service as early as possible. Increasing the age limit will definitely help the dedicated students to get some experience of the problems before joining the services. They can take up some other job to have the first hand experience of people's problems as well as of administration. Also they can figure out at what level the problem persists and can create solutions. With these experiences in mind, when they will join the civil services, they will prove to be better administrators. They will be able to modify the policies for the betterment of the people and will be able to cope political pressure. Their decision making skills will certainly increase as more experience leads to more solutions.

Earlier after completing graduation candidates started preparing for the civil services. As there were restrictions on age, they wanted to join at the earliest. Many skipped the higher studies after graduation, Few did their graduation as private so as to concentrate all efforts on civil services. Increasing the age limit will help the students to complete their higher studies after graduation and then go for civil services. This will increase the knowledge base of the aspirants. Though the educational qualification needed for the exam is up to graduation only, Post graduation will help them in their career as well as in their preparation. More knowledge will enable them to crack the examination. The increase in attempts will also help the de motivated aspirants, those who have finished all their four attempts, psychologically. Their energy will not be wasted now in other unproductive works. They can prepare with a new hope. Also they would have more knowledge and experience, so they can become good administrators with minimal errors.

Government has given the aspirants what has been long demanded by not only them but various sections of the society. All over the world in other countries the upper age limit for civil services is high. For example in USA, both a person aged 20 years and other aged 50 years can join the civil services. This gives diversity in bureaucracy and increase efficiency as experienced people can handle issues better. India has also made an attempt towards increasing talent in bureaucracy but still much more needs to be done.

Jashanpreet Singh

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