Friday, May 10, 2013

Does, and should, IAS attract the best and brightest?

Does, and should, IAS attract the best and brightest?
By John Cheeran
Are the best and the brightest of Indian minds getting attracted to Indian civil service? Last week, Union Public Service Commission announced the results of the civil service examination and since then there has been much feting of winners, including down to the 500thperson on the rank list.
In Kerala, especially, since candidates from the state won the first, second and fourth positions in the examination.
Now that the brouhaha over the winners and the “achievement” is slowly fizzling out, it is time to take a hard look at the ‘civil serpent’ obsession.
The Indian civil service is no longer the ‘steel frame’ that British Raj claimed it to be. And India is no longer a nation of limited opportunities, where the best was a sarkari job. Post-1990s, youngsters have a variety of options to choose from the job market. Information technology, media, entertainment, finance, telecom, service, and infrastructure sectors offer unlimited opportunities for career growth as well as remuneration. Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) and Indian Institute of Technologies (IITs) are global brands and a significant chunk of India’s best and the brightest make a beeline to them. Youngsters topping CAT are never feted the way IAS toppers are envied and felicitated.
And here is a larger question. Why are we placing so much importance on coming first in examinations, whether it is IAS or CAT? What does coming first, signify?
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