26 September 2023

INDIA: Science dominant in PS

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An analysis of the backgrounds of the 84 most senior Indian Public Servants has found that more than half have a background in science.

A total of 46 studied science before joining the Public Service, 28 were engineers, while the rest studied zoology, biotechnology, physics and botany.

This trend is also apparent at lower levels, an earlier newspaper report on this year’s intake into the Public Service found 60 per cent had engineering backgrounds.

Of the 428 who passed the annual Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) examination and went on to the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration in Mussoorie for training, there were just 84 that had specialised in the arts or humanities.

Several current and former Public Servants said that historically, students from a science background had been “relatively more competent” at clearing the UPSC examination, because they were better conditioned in the competitive examination process.

A recently retired official who did not want to be identified said the trend to sciences had been apparent since the 1980’s and could also be seen in the separate examinations for the Railways Service where around 70 per cent of those passing were engineers.

The head of the Meridian Training Institute, A.K. Singh said technology students had been having greater success with the UPSC exams for the past four decades “simply because they have a prior experience of going through a tough selection process”.

“This trend slowed a little in the 1990s because of the opening up of the economy and privatisation, which gave tech students a lot of career options,” Mr Singh said.

“However, by the turn of the century, when the economy started slowing down, we saw an increased number of science students coming back to the Public Service field,” he said.

New Delhi, 24 November 2020

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