As I am writing this column, some more cases of COVID-19 would have tested positive in some part of the world. This is the biggest collective challenge we are facing in history. The economy is shutdown with extreme restrictions on mobility and people are requested to be at home. For the elected representatives as well as the civil servants, the task ahead is massive. They have to control the spread of the virus as well as ensure that nobody is starving.
There were two more weeks of personality tests scheduled which had to be stopped till further notice. Now only after April 15, there will be a decision regarding this. This has put tremendous pressure on those who have attended the personality test and who were waiting to face the board. The uncertainty regarding the final result could be very demotivating.
The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) has not decided on the 2020 preliminary examination which is scheduled for May 31. So, this could be depressing to all others who have been preparing for years for this opportunity. Particularly, candidates, who will be crossing the age barrier or exhaust the number of permissible attempts this year.
As the coaching institutes and libraries are closed, one has to remain at home or hostel. But as the whole world is facing the crisis, one should not feel heart-broken or get into the “why me?” mood. Let me just share certain things a civil service aspirant should do during this time.
Utilise time productively
People who are preparing for the preliminary examination should utilise this time productively to revise both the basics as well as current affairs. If you are a person who sticks to basic books, you can also check videos of classes to avoid boredom of repeating the same thing.
As part of revision, one can create power point presentations with interesting pictures. Making videos of specific topics is also possible. One can use all the possibilities of audio-visual tools to make learning an interesting experience.
One should clearly set targets and divide portions to be finished within stipulated time. A weekly time table works best as one can have a day of rest after six days of study.
Practicing questions is very important for the prelims. So, solve question papers regularly. There are many credible online sources for test series. But recently many students pointed out a few fake test series links. So, one has to keep in mind this while choosing online sources. One can use WhatsApp groups also to share questions and answers. Social media can be used effectively for discussions too.
Those who are waiting for the final result should be optimistic about the outcome. But if one is planning to write again in case of not clearing, the preparation for prelims should go parallel.
Those who are waiting for their interview schedule needs to do a balancing act of preparing for both the personality test and preliminary examination. In the snake and ladder game of UPSC examination, one has to start from the first stage if something goes wrong.
Points to remember
It is important that one eats properly and drinks plenty of water as it is summer time. Try to do some indoor physical activities too to remain healthy. Take adequate breaks to pursue hobbies if they can be done at home.
My most important suggestion to all civil service aspirants is to keep track of how the government is managing the crisis at different levels. Particularly, how the district administration and local self-governments are ensuring the supply chain as well as coordinating the preventive measures. This will help you understand the enormous responsibility entrusted with Indian civil service, particularly during a huge crisis. One could put oneself in the district administrator’s place and imagine what all things could be done. This could be a motivating exercise.
Use the time and resources productively and make this lockdown time memorable. We as humanity has to retain social distance, but maintain a collective positivity to survive, and we shall overcome.
(The author is a former IPS officer and a trainer for civil service aspirants.)