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The world of Civil Services Aspirants – their struggles


By Harshmeet Singh

New Delhi’s Old Rajendra Nagar area brims with students all year long. However, these aren’t the students who go out partying over the weekends or celebrate new year’s eve at a lounge. These are the students who prefer not to step out of their rooms for months, for there is an endless barrage of books that need to be read and re-read in order to achieve their target. These are the civil services aspirants.

These students don’t discuss about the latest Bollywood flick and the IIFA awards. They rather discuss which lecturers are sought after for which subject. Home to well over 100 civil services coaching institutes and more than 30,000 outstation students, the Old Rajendra Nagar area is Delhi’s largest IAS aspirants’ hub.

“There is a common notion that it takes at least 3 attempts to clear the exam. While those clearing it in their maiden attempt are a minority, I have seen a number of them doing it. I have also met those who haven’t been able to clear it in 6 attempts!”, says Kunal Arora, an aspirant himself.

Civil services have long been known as the most coveted jobs in the country. The 3-tier exam can easily get on an aspirant’s nerves. With close to 10 lakh students applying for merely 1,000 posts, the success depends on much more than hard work.

Most IAS coaching institutes are located in Rajendra Nagar and Mukherjee Nagar areas of Delhi. Students from all parts of the country come to Delhi with a hope of entering the bureaucracy. Delhi is to the IAS examination what Koa is to the IITJEE. While the success stories catch the imagination of the entire country, the failures, which are much more common, remain hidden in the bylanes of Rajendra Nagar.

Aman Shukla, who has failed to clear the exam in his six attempts, says, “When I first appeared for the exam, I had no idea how tough the exam was. It was only when I saw people around me studying for almost 18 hours every day, that I understood what it takes to clear it.”

He is now a banker, a common backup option for the aspirants. “I always it would take time. But once you clear it, your life is made. I didn’t want to label myself as a failure after all these years. What about the dreams of my family?”, he added.

While coming to Delhi and joining a coaching institute seems like the obvious way to go to achieve your goal, this isn’t the most affordable option. Most coaching institutes charge over Rs 1 lakh for a 6-7 months course to train the students for the preliminary stage of the examination. Add to that the expense of books, stationary, sample papers, lodging and food, and you are looking at an expenditure of about 3 – 3.5 lakh for one year.

Considering that a number of candidates stay in Delhi for multiple years since they need to give more than one attempt, and you would understand why stories like ‘farmers having to sell their land to send their kids to IAS coaching’ are true. Even after they finish their coaching classes, students prefer to stay in these areas to stay in touch with the latest trends and have discussions with other candidates.

The story of their struggles doesn’t end here. Stay tuned to get more glimpses into the lives of civil services aspirants.


More in this series-

The world of Civil Services Aspirants – Introduction

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The world of Civil Services Aspirants – Coaching Institutes


By Harshmeet Singh

Some call it one of the world’s toughest examinations, some call it the entrance gate to a golden career, while some call it the chance to impact the society like nothing else. The UPSC Civil Services examination (or informally known as the IAS exam) presents a chance to the common man to enter the national bureaucracy based on his or her credibility.

One of the most coveted examinations in the country, the civil services examination’s preparation is in itself a penance. With a never ending syllabus and frequent twists in the examination pattern, aspirants prepare for multiple years to get a shot at the glory. Such is the aura of this examination that clearing it in the first attempt is considered an exception!

But behind the glory it brings to the successful candidates lies the toil and agony of the lakhs of candidates who leave their comfortable homes to come to Delhi with hopes that their next destination would be the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie.

This series of articles by NewsGram is an attempt at taking a closer look at the UPSC civil services aspirants, their hardships, the money-spinning coaching institutes and the examination itself. Today, we shift our focus towards the IAS coaching institutes.

Need for coaching

There are almost 500+ UPSC coaching institutes in Delhi. Of these, the Hindi medium coaching institutes don’t even constitute 10% of the numbers. The institutes teaching in other Indian languages are almost non-existent in the national capital. This puts the students from Hindi or other regional language background at a distinct disadvantage.

The average teacher-student ratio in most of these coaching institutes is 500! While the more famous coaching institutes enroll up to 350 students in on batch, the other ones take about 100-150 students per batch. There is nothing called ‘personal attention’ in these institutes. The fact that these institutes remain jam-packed despite exorbitant fee structures is a testament to how much the people are willing to spend in return for ‘guidance’.

Government run coaching?

A number of state governments have come up with steps to support civil services aspirants in their state. Following are some of the government run institutes which offer free/subsidized coaching to the aspirants.


Last year, the government of Karnataka announced that it would increase the number of aspirants from backward classes for whom it sponsors coaching. According to the Government, poor aspirants belonging to the backward classes, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes and minorities planning will be offered training in reputed coaching centers in New Delhi, Hyderabad and Bengaluru, but it would also provide a monthly stipend to the candidates. The number of such candidates will be increased from 250 to 500.

The state of Nadu runs a similar program where the state government offers a stipend and scholarship to the civil services aspirants. The number of vacancies is 225.

Another such initiative is run by the Thane Municipal Corporation since 1987. Chintamanrao Deshmukh Institute for Administrative Careers offers free guidance to the UPSC aspirants in the state. It is the only such institute which is run and operated by a municipal corporation. The Institute is widely known for its uncompromising level of guidance.

Over the past 28 years, a number of students from this institute have gone on to join the central and state services. The guidance and other facilities are offered free of cost to its students. Every year, the institute chooses 50 students with the help of a screening test, followed by an interview. The students are also free to continue availing the facilities offered by the Institute if they intend to give multiple shots at the examination.


More in this series-

The world of Civil Services Aspirants – Introduction

The world of Civil Services Aspirants – their struggles