Cassian Baliarsingh

Economist Sanjeev Sanyal has sparked a healthy debate on UPSC, touted to be India’s toughest exam. In a podcast, the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (EAC-PM) member has explained that five to eight years of preparation for the civil services by lakhs of students is a ‘waste of youthful energy’.

“It is perfectly fine to attempt the UPSC or other such exams, but only if the person wants to be an administrator. The problem is that lakhs of people are spending 5-8 years repeatedly doing this exam as a "way of life". This is such a waste of youthful energy,” he stated.

“It may come as a surprise, but my view is shared by most bureaucrats (who cleared the exam at some point). An attempt or two is fine for those who really want this path, but spending your entire 20s for it this is unhealthy,” he further stated adding, “An entire industry (indeed entire cities like Kota) are dedicated to just taking an exam where less than 1% will succeed. And this is every year. Imagine this huge effort being directed at other fields.”

His genuine call was to redirect the huge effort required for UPSC to other fields that will help in nation building. While a section of netizens agreed with Sanyal’s perspectives, many others said his assertion was avoidable.

A user in support of Sanyal wrote, “These are written from experience of myself, friends and co aspirants. UPSC is like a drug that keeps you intoxicated so long bcz u have a moral fight to fight. Try to clear it max 2-3 attempts don’t stay too long… It is not good for yourself and for the society.”

Another user shared, “I am 31 and have exhausted all my 6 attempts. I have won many Olympiads and writing competitions, MBA from a prominent institute and finally a 9LPA job. But I left all that and went for UPSC, but, couldn’t clear despite working hard and smart. I sacrificed my whole 20s and today I’m jobless, unmarried, no social life, clinically depressed, on medications.”

“All my knowledge on RSS Sharma, Laxmikanth, Certificate Geography or Shankar Environmental notes have zero market value. In Casino, you have 48% chance to win and 52% to lose, but in UPSC it is 99.99% chance to lose,” he added.