Most people who wish to write civil service examination get inspiration from officers who make the headlines. The aspirants as well as general public admire the good deeds of civil servants and often give credit to the way these people are picked and trained. Once a person starts preparing for civil service, the colourful stories shared by the seniors about the training remain a constant motivating factor. Some even visit the civil service training academy in Mussoorie to get themselves inspired. So, how exactly an officer of the Indian civil service is trained?
The training of a new entrant to Indian civil service starts with the foundation course. It is compulsory for all Group A services and has a duration of 15 weeks. Those who are writing the examination again to improve their ranks can ask for exemption from the foundation course and they need to attend it with later batches. The foundation course usually happens at the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie, but when the number of probationers exceeds the boarding capacity there, the trainees are allotted to places like Hyderabad or Bhopal.
Once the joining formalities are over, there will be an inaugural function where the probationers wearing their formal attire and lapel cards will be officially welcomed to the training. Hindi tests and election of office-bearers for various clubs and societies will happen in the first week itself. Thanks to social media, the lobbying to win elections starts early these days. The posts of officer’s club chairperson and mess secretary are highly sought after and one needs to campaign hard to win them. The candidates who clear the Hindi exam can choose other languages available while those who need to improve their Hindi will have to attend classes.
A day in the life of a probationer
A day in the life of a probationer starts with the morning physical training which includes running, ground exercises and yoga. There will be classes and sometimes interactions with eminent personalities till lunch. The classes include Law, Public Administration, Economics etc. and there will be periodic tests too. The candidates need to submit assignments and do presentations on various themes. Afternoons are devoted to classes on extra-curricular activities. Evenings are for games followed by activities and competitions by various clubs and societies. The performance in all these will be counted to determine the best probationer of the batch.
Trekking as an activity is given importance in the foundation course. The first three weeks will have short trekking sessions on Saturdays. This will be followed by the 10-day trekking in the Himalayas. The experienced Indo Tibetan Border Police Personnel will be accompanying the probationers to help in adverse situations. Once when a group of trekkers were facing a tough time because of bad weather, one probationer was in tears and blabbered that he didn’t want to die there after achieving so much in life! People generally help each other during such times but I still remember someone who refused to give her water bottle to another during a trekking session!
In the second month of training, candidates need to stay in a remote village for some time to study the problems and prepare a report. The probationers will have to report to the district administration before proceeding to the respective village. There are people who refuse to go to the villages and remain in the district headquarters itself misusing the official position. Later, I heard one such person worrying too much about corruption in the system!
The India Day, where the food and art of each state is showcased, is a major attraction of the foundation course. There are competitions in one act play and essay writing in addition to sporting events which concludes with a cross country run. Eventually, the probationers will vote for the best team person of the batch. After the foundation course, the candidates will leave for their respective academies across the country to continue the training which may last for approximately another one-and-a-half year.
The training of officers of the Indian Civil service is designed in such a way to inculcate a sense of team spirit as well as to appreciate the diversity of the country. It may not be enough to stop centuries old prejudices but it can create a sense of professionalism. People fondly remember those days after years of service and reunions happen often. Well, are you tempted enough to be part of all these? Start from now.
(The author is a former IPS officer and a trainer for civil service aspirants)