The dream of becoming an IAS officer gets around 4 – 5 lakh students every year to appear for the Civil Service Exam. Out of these, only a select few (around 1000 candidates) make it to the final list.
Even though so many candidates put in their blood and sweat into preparation, it is only a lucky few that make it through. So what are the qualities that these select few possess which other candidates do not have? What makes these lucky few eligibles for one of the most prestigious jobs in India?
The exam has been designed in such a way that it pushes the candidate to his maximum limit. The long arduous exam which has such a vast syllabus is actually designed to test whether the candidate has the attitude of IAS officer. Is he really cut out to take the job? Remember, as they say,”This is an exam to fail the candidate not to pass the candidate.”
Keeping this in mind one needs to possess certain skills which can help him clear the exam and also be successful in his job. The behavior of an IAS officer has to be possessed or developed in the exam stage itself. Here is a list of 10 qualities I feel are needed for you to crack the exam and become a great IAS officer.
During the exam, you study such a vast syllabus. It is said that you complete 3 graduations in the same amount of studies that you do for UPSC. For covering such a vast syllabus it is important for a person to possess discipline. A person has to consistently put in the required hours day in, day out for a long period of time.
This discipline helps you in your career further. An IAS does not have holidays, he has to work long hours every day. In such times it is this discipline that keeps him going. A person who does not have this discipline will wear out and lose focus.
The syllabus for UPSC covers multiple subjects ranging from economics, polity, history, geography, and environment. Keeping this in mind a person needs to be curious to develop interest and study all the subjects. If the individual is not curious, he cannot cover the entire syllabus.
Moreover, he should be keen to constantly keep learning for the questions in the exam are very dynamic and related to current happenings.
In his job too, an IAS officer has to be curious. For someone who is heading a district, an IAS officer has to deal with the political, social, economic situations in the area. His decisions are influenced by historical and geographical characteristics of the area.
Also, an IAS works in multiple departments of the government. He might be in the ministry of finance someday and in the ministry of defense the other. Considering this, a curious mind is very important for a person to learn the intricacies of the job.
To keep trying till one reaches his/her goal is called perseverance. For clearing, this exam one needs to possess the quality of perseverance. He has to try till he succeeds. That’s the reason a candidate is allowed to attempt the exam multiple times.
The quality of perseverance plays a vital part in the career of a successful IAS officer. With the so many stakeholders and interest groups, an IAS should possess the quality to pursue his targets with perseverance. He should be stubborn enough to keep trying till you succeed.
The exam spans over a period of one year, the preparation usually takes one year. So on an average, a candidate has to work towards this exam for a period of two years, provided he clears in the first attempt.
An average aspirant spends anything between 2-3 years in cracking the exam. Such a long period of consistent efforts need patience.
In the system, which is so sluggish, patience is the key. It is said that “policymaking moves one two steps forward and one step backward.” Based on this a person needs to be extremely patient to achieve targets. Hasty decision making and impatience can cause more damage than good.
To keep all distractions away and to concentrate on one aim is the quality of focus. While appearing for this exam you will see that your friends are enjoying their financial independence.
Watching movies, going out to eat, meeting friends are somethings you cannot think of. You have to keep such distractions at bay and work towards your goal.
Same goes for your job. Being an IAS officer has its perks and privileges. Sometimes the power, respect and status that you get can go to your head. In such situation, a successful IAS officer can keep these things at bay and focus on his work.
6. Analytical Ability
As you study for this exam you will understand that not all situations are black and white. I such a case the need of the exam is for you to understand the issue, get different perspectives on the situation and give a balanced judgment.
Similar analytical ability is required for the job as well.
Example, if you close a factory which employs child labor, you will steal the livelihood of the children who might resort to criminal activities which is equally bad.
You need to have balanced decision-making abilities to ensure that the rights of children are not violated and that their livelihood is also saved.
7. Time management
Studying such a vast syllabus, reading it, understanding it and then revising it requires a lot of time. A person needs to manage his time well or else he won’t be able to complete the syllabus in time.
Similarly, an IAS is in charge of close to 150 committees in a district. The workload is tremendous and it is humanly not possible to complete it if we do not know how to manage our time.
8. Communication skills – oral and written
A student has to write 20 questions in a single paper in 3 hours. On an average, he gets 6 minutes only to write a single question. This fact itself portrays the importance of written communication. Similarly, in the interview, it is important to show your best side in such a short time period.
An IAS too has to have great communication skills. For on the job he needs to compile all the information and project it to his political bosses for them to make the decision. Communication is of utmost importance for an IAS officer to work with so many stakeholders.
9. Decision making
While studying for the exam, a candidate has to decide, what to read? What not to read? When to study? Such endless choices have to be made fast.
The fear of making the wrong choice usually paralyzes a person, compelling him to maintain status quo. He doesn’t know what to study and how to study, thus losing the race of the exam.
With so much power, an IAS has to make many crucial decisions which can make or break the project. To analyze all the information and make the correct choice is a very complex activity.
Majority of the IAS too fail to take the decision out of fear of a misjudgment. Decision-making ability separates good IAS officers from the rest.
10. Out of the box thinking
If you look at the syllabus you will realize that the UPSC has not mentioned any standard books for the exam. This is for the fact that they want you to study any source that you prefer.
Even in the exam, you will notice that the pages are blank as they want you to present your paper however you want to. It has been observed that innovative answer writing fetches more marks than a monotonous one. For this, you need to develop out of the box thinking.
Same goes with the job of an officer. The need is to develop innovative solutions to issues and problems. For this, a person needs logic, common sense and a lot of out of the box thinking.
These qualities are the prerequisites of a successful IAS officer. Even if you do not possess them at this stage, they can be developed over time with persistent efforts and proper guidance.
We at UPSC Pathshala believe that no one is born with these qualities, it needs proper grooming to mold an IAS officer.
For this, we have launched the Inception course, where we provide personalized mentorship to each student. The mentor provides strategies to study, solves doubts and motivates you to keep on working consistently till you achieve your goal. For more details CLICK HERE.
Author: Akshay Palande
Akshay Palande is a passionate teacher helping hundreds of students in their UPSC preparation. With a degree in Mechanical Engineering and double masters in Public Administration and Economics, he has experience of teaching UPSC aspirants for 5 years. His subject of expertise are Geography, Polity, Economics and Environment and Ecology.