Serving the nation

Print edition : August 26, 2011

K. Padmanabhaiah, dean, IAS Academy, at a meeting organaised by Sri Chaitanya. - BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Sri Chaitanya launches its IAS Academy to train civil service aspirants.

AFTER its successes in coaching aspirants of the engineering and medicine streams, Sri Chaitanya Educational Institutions (SCEI) has set its sights on the prestigious civil services arena. It has set up an IAS Academy with the objective of increasing the number of candidates from Andhra Pradesh getting selected for posts in the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), the Indian Police Service (IPS) and the other civil services. Over two lakh aspirants appear every year for the Preliminary examination (C-SAT, or Civil Services Aptitude Test, from this year) of the Union Public Service Commission, and around 13,000 of them qualify for the Main examination. Of these, around 2,500 will qualify for the interview, and the UPSC selects 1,000 for the services.

Aspirants normally begin preparing for the civil services examination, which is conducted annually, at the age of 22 or 23, after they complete their undergraduate or postgraduate studies. Aspirants take one or two years to fully understand the examination pattern, and by the time they complete the three-stage examination and are declared selected, they would be around 26-28 years old. If the aspirants decide on the civil services as a career option while doing their Intermediate or degree course, it will help them crack the examination in the very first attempt.

And, entering government service while they are young would enable them to have a longer tenure and secure top posts such as Cabinet Secretary and Director General of Police. Sri Chaitanya is focussing on this aspect and has launched the IAS Academy to provide top quality coaching for the civil services along with Intermediate (two years) and college education (three years) through a five-year integrated programme. Students who have already completed their undergraduate/postgraduate studies can avail themselves of the facility through a one-year intensive coaching for the examination.

For degree students, coaching will be imparted along with the three-year university syllabus. Those undergoing coaching at the degree level can select two optional subjects for the Mains examinations from their syllabus, and the academy will cover General Studies as part of the coaching.

Two former civil servants who carved a niche for themselves in India's public life through their yeoman services have joined the academy: former Chief Election Commissioner T.N. Seshan is the chairman of its advisory board and former Union Home Secretary K. Padmanabhaiah is its dean.

The coaching is of international standards and covers important aspects related to the examination, including current affairs, group discussion, multi-media presentation, general awareness, situation analysis, crisis management, positive thinking, personality development, communication skills, interpersonal communication, elocution and body language, all of which are essential for success in the examination. A highly effective training methodology has been developed by the academy in these areas.

The academy is particular that aspirants are self-confident and have a positive and service-oriented mindset in addition to having a burning ambition to succeed in the civil services examination. The civil services examination does not focus only on academic knowledge but also on the aspirant's overall understanding of society and ability to find solutions to contemporary problems. Accordingly, specialised study material has been developed for aspirants, who would study under the supervision of senior lecturers. Interactive sessions with experts in various fields, including in that of personality development, have been incorporated in the syllabus, and aspirants would be given the opportunity to meet successful civil servants and eminent personalities.

K. Padmanabhaiah: Catch them young'

The key to doing well in the prestigious civil services examinations, Padmanabhaiah says, is to be socially aware and conscious so that one understands what is happening around one.

Catch them young should be the motto as it is not simple to understand the complex issues involved in the General Studies, he said. He says many people do not understand the real meaning of the terms gross domestic product (GDP) and growth rate as arriving at a figure pertaining to the two parameters of a country's development involves complex calculations. They just indulge in glib talk without understanding the depth of the issues, he said.

Civil services aspirants, no doubt, prepare for General Studies at the end of their undergraduate or postgraduate courses, but it is not easy to grasp the subject in a span of six or nine months. Complicated concepts such as the Constitution, decentralisation of administration, functioning of the States and development should be mastered by aspirants in order for them to make a mark in these examinations. There is also a lack of understanding of how the Central budget is prepared and developments relating to globalisation, information technology (IT), and security issues. Students should be in a position to spare at least 30 per cent of their study time to learn these issues, and they will have a thorough understanding if they start from the +1 or +2 stage, he said.

Qualifying in the civil services examinations puts aspirants directly in public service, the most productive work, and they cannot deliver unless they are committed and have an understanding of the complexities of the various aspects of the functioning of the government. Students appearing for the IAS show a good track record in IT, engineering and other subjects, but their vision is limited. Giving them some orientation will help ensure their entry into the public service domain, he said.

Padmanabhaiah said that he had jumped at the idea of working at the IAS Academy when he was asked by the SCEI administrators as it had been his long-time desire to train youth for the IAS. He had already started the process of holding consultations with individual students. The majority of them are brilliant and they have the zeal to serve the people, he said. To begin with, students should read on a regular basis the journals and books published by the Planning Commission and the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). They should be exposed to lectures by good speakers on relevant topics, and students should themselves be involved in group discussions from an early stage as that contributes to the enhancement of their knowledge on various issues and helps them articulate their views without fear. According to Padmanabhaiah, appearing for the IAS examination itself is a great experience. The preparation for the examination will turn committed aspirants into good citizens, he said.

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