Government departments want new bureaucrats to be young, unmarried and preferably without job experience to infuse young blood into the system. Those involved in training the babus feel that candidates with prior job experience are often hard to mould while the married have their own problems.
The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) recently convened a meeting and sought suggestions to change the pattern for civil services examinations. Heads of various bureaucrat training academies wanted a cut in the age limit for entering the country's premier government services. There were also suggestions to prefer candidates without prior job experience, especially in government sector, as well as unmarried persons, although they agreed that there could be no official bar on it.
The meeting was also attended by director general (DG) of city-based National Academy of Direct Taxes (NADT), which trains Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officers who join income tax department through civil services examination. Representatives from National Police Academy, Hyderabad, and Lal Bahadur National Academy of Administration, which trains IAS officers, attended the meeting on April 10.
The general suggestion was to reduce the age of candidates entering the civil services. An upper age limit of 26 was thought to be enough, as people do not take up employment before that age, said NADT DG DS Saxena who was present in meeting.
The idea is to ensure that it is the first job for all those entering the civil services, as such candidates can be more enthusiastic and disciplined. The current upper age limit is 30 years, and higher for reserved category. At present, majority of those joining the service have already worked somewhere earlier. They often tend to have an attitudinal problem, which hampers their training. Freshers are easy to mould, said Saxena, adding that the NADT too was of similar opinion.
The gathering also mooted reduction of the time lag for clearing the civil services exam. The current period is over a year, which often deprives many brilliant but economically backward candidates from taking the exam. Now, after advertisements inviting applications are published in January or February, prelims are conducted in May-June, followed by mains in November and finally the interview by April.
It is easy to evaluate prelim papers, in which questions are of objective nature, but valuating papers for mains is time consuming. So if mains papers have a considerable section of objective questions, unlike a totally descriptive format now, the evaluation can be faster, said Saxena, citing a suggestion.
This will reduce the gap between two examinations. So, with reduced age limit on one hand and quicker results, candidates will have to take exams at shorter intervals. This is also expected to help filter out candidates who otherwise may not have the natural ability but crack tests due to repeated attempts.
Another key suggestion was to increase time slot for interview to at least an hour-and-a-half from 25 minutes at present, as it may help in judging the person's character properly, said Saxena.