How Indians succeed in one of the hardest tests in the world
Gamini Singla avoided visiting friends, taking a vacation, and attending family gatherings and holidays for over three years.
She cut back on her takeaway binge-eating, went to the movies, and avoided using social media. Instead, she studied for up to 10 hours a day in her family’s house close to Chandigarh in northern India, rising at the crack of dawn. She studied diligently, took practise exams, watched YouTube clips of successful people, read newspapers, and read self-help books. Her only companions ended up being her parents and brother. You ll spend a lot of time alone. Being alone helps you develop “Says Ms. Singla.
She was getting ready for the nation’s civil service examinations, which rank among the hardest in the entire world. India’s Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) tests are maybe only surpassed by gaokao, China’s national college entrance exam, in their ability to recruit young people into that nation’s extensive public service.
Every year, a million applicants submit applications to take the taxing three-stage exam. Less than 1% pass the second stage’s written test. When Ms. Singla took the exam in 2021, it had the lowest pass rate in eight years. Over 1,800 people showed up for the interviews. 685 men and women were ultimately eligible.
A first in the history of the exam, Ms. Singla finished third in the exam alongside two other women. She met the requirements to join the exclusive IAS (Indian Administrative Service.
I felt like a weight had been lifted the day I received my results. I visited a temple before going out dancing says the 24-year-old.
According to Sanjay Srivastava, a sociologist at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, the position of a government servant is a desirable and influential one in a nation where decent private jobs are few and the state dominates daily life. Additionally, a government position offers a wide range of benefits like loans, rental subsidies, discounted travel, and paid holidays.
Additionally, individuals from small towns have a strong interest to the civil service. “It could be simple to enter the private sector, but advancement calls for cultural capital. On the other hand, joining the civil service is cultural capital in and of itself “Mr. Srivastava continues.
Ms. Singla, a computer engineer who had interned at the world’s largest bank, JP Morgan Chase, was an engineering graduate, like the majority of other candidates. Like the others, she also had her sights set on one day working in government. She saw a bureaucrat when visiting the local government transportation office to obtain her driving permit. She asked for an appointment with her and sought her advice. “The path is so arduous, it takes a long time, and the stakes are so great,” she remarks (she understood.
The rigorous cramming, family participation, time-saving strategies, avoidance of any distractions, and almost complete retreat from society described in Ms. Singla’s tale at a time when many young people lack direction in life provide a window into India’s cruel test system. “There are times when I’m frustrated and worn out. Mentally, it’s really taxing “she claims.
Ms. Singla adhered to what appeared to be a training regimen for a marathon. She switched to a diet of fruits, salads, dry fruits, and porridge in order to maintain her health and make it the entire distance. She would jump “200-300 times” in her room instead of going outside for exercise.