By the Editor: Siddharth Sehgal
There is a point in having the water resources department, and there is a point in having medical services but try as I might, I really don’t see any point in having UPSC. Before you label me a hater of some sort, I want to present my rationale behind my displeasure with India’s bureaucracy-supplying machine.
For those who don’t know anything about Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), it is an agency that recruits district administrators, diplomats, and police leadership that fills government apparatus and ranks. It’s the hiring agency of civil servants to summarize briefly but the way it recruits and the output it produces has always puzzled me. Be it governance or law and order, the bureaucracy leaves much to the desire and most of the time has remained firmly under the thumb of politicians. It’s not designed to produce independent-minded people and our agencies are not known for their independence.
But let me focus this piece on the recruitment process of the UPSC. It’s the dream of every family in India that their children make it through to UPSC. It’s not the money that is desired, nor the desire of Patriotism or service of society, it’s an unsaid truth that the main objective to secure a place in the UPSC is the power and prestige that comes with the position. Lakhs of students spend their youth preparing for exams, cramming books, and studying long hours to make it through three stages of two written exams and a verbal interview to be accepted into the rank and file of UPSC but only a few thousand make it through. The process is long and consuming, and young people practically throw away their most fruitful years in preparing for this exam, one may not get selected even after years of preparation and yet you hear those relatives of politicians, sometimes make it through in their first attempt. But does passing written and verbal exams make one a good administrator, or a police officer? I have my doubts.
Indian Newspapers are lined up with ads from coaching institutions that coach students in this exam. They publish pictures of successful candidates with their ranks, YouTube is rife with videos of different tutors and successful candidates who are seen as larger-than-life personalities. You can see Twitter and Instagram pages of lots of district collectors, magistrates, and senior police officers, some enjoy thousands of Twitter followers and yet the picture of the department or district they oversee might not be as pretty as their Twitter or Instagram feed.
People often ask what other options we have for recruitment. But that is just an excuse to continue a flawed process. This whole process of UPSC seems idiosyncratic in the most ironical of ways as we continue to sacrifice our country’s potential at a red tape recruiting agency’s altar.