Mr. Subramhanyan was an Officer of the IRAS with 36 years of service and retired recently as Additional Member Railway Board. He has cracked the prestigious Civil Service Exam twice and been selected for both Central Services and IPS. Now he is associated with Officers IAS Academy, Chennai as Advisor and Visiting Faculty. We spoke to him asking him to share his experience and reflections about Civil Service.
Q1. Do you think there is level playing field in the present exam system for students from Engineering & Science stream and aspirants from Arts / Humanities stream?
It is important that one doesn’t worry excessively about relative advantage and disadvantage in the subjects or field of study that one may have pursued. Systematic work, good strategy and pursuit of excellence in one’s field can more than offset the minor disadvantages.
It is interesting to note that in recent years there has been a clear trend towards making the civil service exam system more broad based. There is something from every area where one can excel given any background. The weightage for optionals has over the years been reducing while the weightage for GS components has been increasing which makes towards a more equitable system.
This is what I advise to students at Officers IAS Academy where I see good mix of students from all streams including few Doctors to banish any misgivings they may have as an aspirant.
Q2. Over the past 3 decades as times have changed vastly, in your opinion should there be a new strategy for preparing to succeed in the CSE?
There has not been sweeping changes really in the educational, social and political scenario in the last 3 decades except for the unprecedented change is the IT revolution which has made available a huge knowledge bank very accessible. The other development is the reduced emphasis on the “optionals” considering that two optionals now have been reduced to only one. However there is an entirely new area to tackle in terms of the paper on Ethics & Integrity.
In this background the correct strategy would be to focus on the well-defined areas which would be the optional paper, Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude and the Essay. Hard work and somewhat in-depth study in these areas would pay off really well. The General Studies papers are extremely broad based and it is not desirable that one puts in very exhaustive effort for each sub topic. After all each sub topic would have limited weightage.
It is very tempting to browse the net. This could prove distracting and counterproductive beyond a point. A short answer to the point written in neat hand writing in simple English and short sentence is a much better strategy.
These are all the accumulated wisdom of 2 of fellow Officers namely Israel Jebasingh & Rangarajan, both IAS Officers who are also part of Officers IAS Academy.
Q3. What has been the motivation to get involved in the coaching of Civil service aspirants at the end of a long innings in Government Management?
I must say that my entry into Civil service was facilitated by many people who gave me a helping hand in terms of guidance and motivation. Without this I dare say I may not have cleared the exam and got selected in the very first attempt when I was only 23 years old. My sense of gratitude can only be expressed through similar help and motivation that I could possibly extend to the upcoming generation who have a similar dream. The other thing which attracted me to get involved was my interest in teaching and training and my background of having spent 6 years in the National Railway academy in Baroda which trains Railway Probationary Officers. Last but not the least is the joy one gets by being in the company of young and bright people who are so full of idealism, effervescence and positive thinking and I get this opportunity to meet them at Officers IAS Academy.
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From Director to Staff, most of our staff are former Civil Servants.
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