Sanjeev Sanyal, a member of the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (PM-EAC), took everyone by surprise when he said, many students are “wasting their time trying to crack UPSC,” in a podcast with Siddhartha Ahluwalia. 

The statements of the economist did not please an IAS officer and have also sparked a debate in social media. 

So What Does The Economist Believe?

Economist Sanjeev Sanyal, in a conversation with Siddhartha Ahluwalia, on his podcast ‘The Neon Show’ made some statements that left the public dumbfounded. 

He weighed on the loaded subject of whether preparing for the gruelling Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) exam is worth the effort or not. 

He spoke vastly on the ‘poverty of aspiration’ that India had suffered for a plethora of decades,  giving examples of the states West Bengal and Bihar to strengthen his argument. 

Just like Bengal aspired to pseudo intellectuals and union leaders, Bihar aspired to small-time local goon politicians. In an environment where those are the role models, you can either become a local goon, if you don’t want to become a local goon, your way out is to basically become a civil servant,” Sanyal claimed.

Adding on, he said, “Although it’s better than being a goon, even that is a poverty of aspiration. If you must dream, you should dream to be Elon Musk or Mukesh Ambani, why do you dream to be a joint secretary? You need to think about how a society thinks about risk taking and scale and so on. I think one of the problems of say a place like Bihar is not that it had bad leaders, the bad leaders are reflection of what that society aspires for.

Today, when web series and movies such as 12th Fail are romanticising the sweat and tears required to crack the extremely difficult exam, the economist believes that youngsters should chanelise their time and energy elsewhere.

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I think way too many young kids who have so much energy are wasting their time trying to crack UPSC. I’m not saying you don’t want people to take the exam. Yes, every country needs a bureaucracy. That’s perfectly fine.

But I think lakhs of people spending their best years trying to crack an exam, where a tiny number of few thousand people actually are going to get in, makes no sense. If they put the same energy into doing something else, we would be winning more Olympic gold medals, we will see better movies, better doctors, more entrepreneurs, more scientists and so on,” he said. 

I would say it’s a waste of time. And I always discourage people unless they really want to be an administrator, they shouldn’t take the UPSC exam. Many of them after having gone through it, then they get frustrated through the course of their career.

In the end, life in bureaucracy is not meant for everybody. And large parts of it are largely dull and boring and about passing files up and down. Unless you really wanted to do it, you’re not going to be particularly happy with it,” the member of the PM-EAC, an independent body that advises on economic and related issues to the Government of India, said. 

The host of the podcast, Siddhartha Ahluwalia, who himself is an entrepreneur, said that in India it is very uncommon for both husband and wife to be entrepreneurs, which is now happening in “hordes and hordes and thus, Indian society on a whole is giving up security as a notion“.

To which, Sanyal replied, “In the middle class, it has significantly changed. People are taking risks, and this is going back to my original point. This is an opening of mind, which is not just happening in that little space of entrepreneurship. This is a change of attitude and this change of attitude will manifest itself in everything.”

It will manifest itself in science, it will manifest itself in music, in literature. There’s an explosion of Indian literature as well. All kinds of innovation will happen. Because we will naturally live in this world, where doing new things and so on is thought of being as a natural thing that people do and it is encouraged,” he added.

Sanjeev Sanyal also shed light on the limiting aspects of the Indian intellectual life and how our academia does not expand the boundaries of knowledge. 

One of the things about Indian intellectual thing that will strike you is that when you go through a certain argument, the argument isn’t won by virtue of logic or evidence you bring.

Ultimately, the argument is won by quoting authority, that Gandhi had said it or Ambedkar said it or whoever happens to be your favourite great. That is not a society that is thinking in an expanding way. It has already decided that the ultimate has already been said by somebody and that is the limits of knowledge,” he claimed. 

The Response Of An Actual IAS Officer:

IAS Somesh Upadhyay, Collector and DM of Odisha’s Deogarh, said, “I can assure that no one who competes in the UPSC exam dreams to become a Joint Secretary. On the other hand, those seeking lateral entry, definitely do.” 

Although he did not mention whether his response was to Sanjeev Sanyal, he was surely not very impressed with the debate that sparked on social media, post the statements of the economist.

A doctor, MD-Medicine in Raipur, Dr Hare Krishna Pradhan, replied to the IAS officer, said that there was still no point in wasting precious years of life for getting into a government job, where the scope of doing good is very limited and “99.99% of aspirants are non-employable in the corporate sector/private sector if they don’t get through the exam as they don’t.” 

UPSC, The Dream Of Most Indian Parents And Students:

UPSC is regarded as the toughest exam in India. In fact, not only in our country, but it is also present in the list of most difficult exams in the world. 

This civil services examination is conducted annually in three stages that is, Preliminary, Main, and Interview Round. The posts available after cracking all three stages of this round are those of IAS (Indian Administrative Officer), IFS (the Indian Foreign Service) and IPS (Indian Police Service), among others.

Unfortunately, only a handful of students appearing for UPSC are able to crack it and get their, or their parent’s dream job.

Image Credits: Google Images

Feature image designed by Saudamini Seth

Sources: Moneycontrol, Business Today, Hindustan Times 

Find the blogger: Unusha Ahmad

This post is tagged under: UPSC, PM, IAS, IFS, IPS, EAC, students, competitive exams

Disclaimer: We do not any right, copyright over any of the images used, these have been taken from Google. In case of credits or removal, the owner may kindly mail us.

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