For many young Indians, the chance to be a civil servant is a dream come true. From their very childhood, they listen closely to the stories of success and failure, narrated by those already in the field. But what they might rarely ever hear is what life is like after one becomes an officer.
On Quora, IAS officer Bhavesh Mishra from the 2015-batch shared what his experience was like after he became an officer. The 30-year-old, who has also co-authored the book 71 to 51: My Journey from Failure to IAS & Your Guide to Success (2018), is an electrical engineering graduate from IIT Delhi.
He answered the question, “What is the life of a fresh Indian civil servant (IAS, IPS, IRS, IFS and other services) like? What are the initial years, salary, pressure, responsibilities, expectations, corrupt officers and politicians, nightlife and social life like?”
According to Bhavesh, the initial years are the best ones, with fewer responsibilities and more learning. He opines that no other job gives so much responsibility, power, the scope of doing good work and authority at such an early stage of a career.
Life when preparing for UPSC
Bhavesh compared preparing for UPSC to a Bollywood movie; full of hope, despair, thrill, disappointment and success.
He said that while initial enthusiasm knows no bounds, there was a point where he struggled with self-doubt and was even on the verge of giving up preparation altogether.
“The statistics for this exam are frightening. Only about 25 students make it to the top 100 in their first attempt. Therefore, we consciously avoid thinking about numbers and cling to the hope of making it to the list,” he added.
According to him, seeing one’s name on the list is like attaining moksha. The other two options are going through the process all over again, or leaving the battlefield completely, out of which the first is worse, he said.
The initial years: Meeting new people, no responsibilities
The life of an IAS officer starts with a three-month foundation course at the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration. It focuses on extracurricular activities like trekking, festivals, sports and fitness.
Then comes what Bhavesh said is the “best part of training” — Bharat Darshan, where the officers go on an all-India tour to meet people in and out of the field. It ends after two months.
Bharat Darshan is followed by a three-month professional course where the officers are told what they are expected to do and how the government works.
After this course, officers are given district training with hands-on experience in field administration.
Next comes Phase-2 training, which includes visiting foreign countries and using the experience they gained during district training with fellow officers.
After Phase-2, the officers begin working in a central ministry and are made to understand the Central government’s formulation and implementation of schemes.
Bhavesh said that here, the two-year-long training with no responsibilities ends, and this is where the real work begins.
‘Challenging, yet satisfying’
Officers are posted as Sub-Divisional Magistrates in a remote area. Bhavesh said that working 24*7 with no holidays teaches the most important lessons to an IAS officer. Responsibilities include conducting elections, handling disasters, protocol duties, law and order, and everything that comes under the administration department.
“Here, we learn the two most important skills; resource management and negotiation,” Bhavesh added.
As the officers are under the constant scrutiny of media, citizens and political parties alike, extra care needs to be taken. People expect a lot from the officers, who are approached by hundreds every day to solve grievances.
In fact, Bhavesh said it will be really hard to find a work-life balance, as a majority of the day is occupied by work itself. So-called nightlife and social life might take a backseat, but there will be no limit to the number of people one gets to meet every day while on the job.
“The work is so challenging, yet satisfying,” adds Bhavesh.
(Edited by Divya Sethu)
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