Thousands of people from different walks of life appear for the UPSC exam every year. College students, graduates, post-graduates, post-doctorates, working professionals, and homemakers alike go through gruelling months of preparation to gear themselves up for the exam.
What motivates these people to invest so much time and effort, spread over months and even years, to write the civil services exam? Not to mention, spending money on coaching classes at a top IAS academy. What makes these aspirants take such a long time-out from regular life to put in their blood, sweat, and toil on the arduous journey towards IAS success. For the moment, let us forget about the others. We will start with you.
Why do you want to become an IAS officer?
This question is probably the most famous one (or infamous one, depending on who you ask) used in IAS personal interviews. One, for which you aspirants most likely have got pat answers at the ready, to impress the heck out of your interviewers. Some IAS coaching centres specifically train candidates on how to answer it. But have you asked yourself the question before? And what was the most honest answer you came up with?
Are You Joining IAS For The Right Reasons?
“But why does this matter anyway?” you might ask. Because there are right reasons and there are wrong reasons for joining the IAS. It is important you know that you are travelling down this path for the right ones. Asking yourself these hard questions would help you become aware of where your IAS dreams come from and see if the civil services are indeed a good fit for you to realize them.
Possible Motivations Behind Your IAS Dreams
We can guess at some of the reasons you probably came up with. Mind you, this is not a mutually exclusive list. As a matter of fact, it would not be a good idea if you have only one reason in mind. A career in IAS is not a light decision to be taken on an impulse. So, there had better be more than one reason why you are taking it up in the first place. Let us look at the reasons in some detail.
Most aspirants at the personal interviews probably give “service” or a variation thereof as the primary motivation behind their IAS dreams – To serve the people, to serve the country, to give back to society, to make a difference. Very noble intentions that not everyone is capable of having. It is possible that you have undergone life experiences that have been responsible for making this career choice of yours. You feel IAS is the way to go to achieve your life dreams. But you also need to explore if it is possible to do the same using a different channel. There have been instances of people quitting the service, to forge a more independent path towards their life goals. So, be utterly sure that you are willing to work with, and within the state machinery, to make a difference to the society at large or the country itself.
Who doesn’t love wielding a bit of power while doing good to others? If you do not let it go to their head and use it wisely and responsibly, you can achieve great things in your IAS career.
Doesn’t everyone want to make a mark or leave a legacy during their time of earth? A career in IAS is a perfectly reasonable way to go about it. It can be a great impetus to achieve remarkable things for social development.
Come on. We are human. It is possible we are going to enjoy the fawning attention and deference shown to IAS officers. As long as there is no sense of entitlement or a penchant for misuse, it is perfectly ok to enjoy the perks that come with a civil services job.
This is one of the wrong reasons we were talking about. Sad it may be, but it is true that government jobs give more opportunity for illegal gains than the private sector ones. But if money is indeed a motivation, surely there are higher paying and rewarding jobs out there than in the civil service.
Another wrong reason would be to join the civil services for the sole purpose of serving the interests of one section of people against another or being instrumental in influencing policy-making to that effect.
So, examine what your IAS dreams are made of. Ensure that you are in it for the right reasons before you even embark on the journey. Only then can you have a long and gratifying career in the Indian civil services.