Why you should not join Civil Services (IAS, IPS, IFS, IRS or like) in India?


Most people join IAS, IPS, IFS, IRS or other civil services in India without knowing the full facts. You already know why you should join civil services. Yet most of you may not be aware of the negative sides of the civil services, which you will realize soon after you join. It is only fair that you should have the complete picture before you take a decision about your career.

Let me explain now why you should not join Civil Services in India.

1: No Recognition for Excellence

All civil servants get their promotions based on their seniority. Your destiny is fixed by your UPSC rank and what you do in next 30-38 years is hardly of any consequence as far as your career is concerned. Initially, when brilliant students join civil services, they work very hard to deliver results and change the system. However, soon they realize that there are several colleagues, who don’t work even half and get all the (legal) benefits as them. They also realize that the more you work, the more chances of you committing a mistake and more chances of punishment. Hence gradually they too become slow and practical.  I quote following lines which are quite popular among civil servants.

Bane Raho Pagla, Kam Karega Agla

Raho Hamesha Cool, Salary Paoge Full

Mat Lo Tension, Nahi to Family payegi Pension

(English translation)

(Pretend to be fool, your successor shall do the work

Always Remain Cool, You get full salary

Don’t take tension, Else your family will get pension)

2: Corruption

It is a fact that many people are attracted towards civil services due to the tales of corruption. They know some officers or they have heard about some officers who have made millions. They join the civil services to make lot of money illegally thinking that it is easy to do so. When they join these services, they discover that no money is available for the post. They have to do some illegal activity or allow the illegal things to go on to make money. When you do any illegal act, there is always a risk of getting caught even after you have demitted the office. Your reputation is 100% spoiled even if you are not caught. Even when you have somehow made a lot of illegal money, you don’t know how you use that money for you. You can’t build any asset or buy new cars and live the life of luxury, because you may face vigilance action or face CBI or Income Tax raid at your house, which can spoil your career forever. You may even end up in jail. Every year, dozens of top civil servants are arrested and put behind the bar. Hence, you can’t sleep properly once you have accumulated lots of ill-gotten money. You may also suffer many illnesses due to the mental tensions. Once you start doing illegal activities, you can never go back to your honest life because you will always be blackmailed by your superiors and juniors who know where you committed the illegal acts. Corruption is one way traffic, with no U-turn.

3: Frequent Transfers

People join civil services to occupy the prominent positions like DM, SP or Commissioners. They get all their recognition, perks and privileges (legal as well as illegal) only on these posts. However, they don’t know how long they can continue in these postings. I was posted on election duty in Paudi (Garhwal) in 2007. Among the other election observers was a lady IAS officer, whose husband was also an IAS officer of the same batch. Presently both husband and wife were in central deputation in Delhi. She told me that in last 14-15 years, she and her husband were never posted in the same station. They used to meet only when a meeting is called by the Commissioner or CM. Only when they came to Central Deputation, they are staying together. In Paudi I found that the DM and Commissioner were staying alone in their big-bungalows and their families were in Dehradun. Even SP and SDM were staying alone since their spouses were in IAS/IPS and they were posted in different stations. You must be ready to live alone, if you choose All India Services.

4: Frustration of Joining Central Services

I have already explained the problems of IAS and IPS. So you may be thinking that why not join IFS, IRS or other Central Services where you don’t have these problems of transfer/posting. You are right. Central services provide you best family lives but they don’t satisfy most people. Most people write civil services again and again to join IAS. I know a few people who got into IAS after 4-6 years of working in their other jobs as IPS, IRS etc. It is because, the type of recognition an IAS or IPS gets at such young age is unparallel in other services. They get the big bungalows, red-light cars and uniformed guards which are not available to other services. But once you join IAS, IPS, you face different types of problems.

5: Political Interference

Who does not know about political interference in India, particularly in IAS and IPS? Most of these officers have to have political godfathers. The politicians use them to get their work done and the officers use them to get their postings and also protect them in case of any problems.  Often you have to do illegal things to keep the bosses and politicians happy and thus you get trapped forever in their clutches. You can neither leave them nor live with them. There may not be much political interference in Central Services, but then they are also not helped by politicians when they need them.

6: Promotion or Demotion

While in other jobs, you gain importance as you get more and more experience. Unfortunately, it is just opposite in IAS, IPS. You are the most important person when you are SP or DM. Even the CM is directly in touch with you. This happens within just 3-5 years of your joining the cadre after training. However, as you get promoted to DIG, IG or Commissioner/Secretary, your importance declines. There are several dozen IG, ADG and even DG sitting in the state capital, and no one knows them. The IAS officers also become just a glorified babu when they become secretaries after promotion. Most people don’t even know that such posts exist in their cadre. The situation is different in Central Services where your importance rises with every promotion. But then central service officer don’t ever have that level of social adulation.

7: Poor Salaries

While the starting salaries of a civil servant are decent (around Rs 50,000), his growth of salary is just @ 3% per annum (plus the Dearness Allowance). The salary of the Chief Secretary is hardly Rs 1,80,000 pm (or Rs 1,35,000 after tax). The ratio of the peak salary to staring salary of an IAS officer is just four times. However, the story is quite different in corporate. For example, the Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka has been given an annual salary of USD5.08 million (over Rs. 30 crore) and USD2 million in stock options. Since the entry level salary of Infosys is around 3 lakhs per annum, the top man is paid more than 1000 times more salary than the entry level employee. In most of the corporate, the ratio is more than 100 times.

 No honest civil servant can ever afford to buy a decent house in a good locality in any Metropolitan city. The low salaries were earlier compensated by the liberal pension given by the Government which used to be revised after every pay commission. However, once the pension benefit is stopped, you don’t have  a back-up support after your retirement.

8: Long and Hard Preparation

While most people think that they can get into their choice service in their first attempt, the reality is quite different. The average age of IAS and other service is around 27-28 years. This means that an average entrant of a CSE spend around 6-7 years after his graduation to get into civil services. Still only 1 in 500 is able to get into Civil Services and 1 in 5000 gets into IAS (proper). Even most people, who are in IAS, fail to get the cadre of choice and 25% end up in cadres which they hate to go.

9: Poor Family Life

While the family life of central service officers like IRS may be normal, the life of IAS and IPS are quite challenging in the initial years when you are heading a district. Most of the districts in India are quite backwards with hardly a decent school for your children. You are working 12 hours a day and hardly have any time for family. You also make so many enemies, if you an honest officer and you family is always fearing about your safety and of their own.

10: Diminishing Social Relevance

In the pre-liberalized era, government officers were looked as the Mai-Baap for a common citizen of India. Their salaries were comparable with private sectors but their perks were far superior. They were playing leading roles in social development. Today, most of the space is filled with private sectors. Our Honorable PM Shri Narendra Modi once said, “I believe government has no business to do business. The focus should be on Minimum Government but Maximum Governance.”  Today a company like Infosys or TCS provides around 40000-50000 jobs each year while UPSC and PSC put together don’t appoint as many people.  The personal wealth of Mukesh Ambani is $20.8 billion (Rs 137280 Crores) which is more than the total tax collection of several states in a year. The value of top 10 companies in India is more than the total revenue of the Government of India and all State Governments put together. The Tata group alone has market capitalization of Rs 7,00,000 crores. It is also a fact that most Indians don’t like civil servants, who are perceived to be inefficient and corrupt. They are seen as hindrance to the growth of India rather than an instrument of growth.

PS: The purpose of this article is not to discourage to join Civil Services but to have the full picture of the civil services by highlighting the negative side of civil services which are hardly known to most of the entrants.

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This article was written by Awdhesh Singh, an IRS officer with the GOI. Ref: Quora

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