How many attempts should you give for UPSC Civil Services Examination

From my immense experience and that of my friends, I can tell you CLEARLY that you must not spend more than 2 years cracking UPSC Civil Services Examination. Civil Services (IAS, IPS, etc) is a unique career but let us get realistic. It is not an assured career. Only around 100 aspirants from General Merit (GM) Category will become IAS, another 100 may become IPS and so on.

You try your best in these 2 attempts spanning over 2 years to crack this exam FULL TIME. If you cannot figure out how to prepare full time, then please do not attempt this examination. Having said that, there are some people who are determined and focused. These people somehow maintain a disciplined study schedule along with their work and thus can crack this exam. So, discipline and regular study are very important to crack this exam.

UPSC gives you 4 to 6 attempts and until you reach the age of 30 for a GM candidate but you should not go behind this exam without a back up career plan. More about it in some other post.

Some of my friends who had gone to Delhi to become an IAS officer today are ready to accept any government job including that of a clerk. You should not put yourself in such a position.

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Structure of UPSC Civil Services Examination

UPSC Civil Services Examination is a 3 stage examination with the number of people moving from 1st stage to 2nd stage to 3rd stage decreasing. The format of these stages is also different.

The process starts with something called an ‘Exam Notification’, when UPSC notifies you that we are conducting the exam. Please come and write 🙂

For 2017, this notification will appear on 22nd February 2017 (22/2/2017)

Along with the notification, the online application portal will be open. Fill the details which are usually very basic and then you can use internet banking to pay the exam fees which is very nominal like Rs 100/- . I think there are offline options also to pay the exam fees.

Last date of completing this application is 17th March 2017 (17/3/2017). After this date, even if PM recommends, UPSC will not accept your application.

Around 5 to 6 lakh applicants fill the form

Before the preliminary exam, your hall ticket will be made available online. You need to take a print of it.

Follow this blog to get regular updates.

STAGE1-PRELIMINARY EXAM

Around 4 lakh students actually write the examination among which you could say around 1.5 lakh students are serious aspirants

Preliminary exam will be conducted on 18th June 2017 (18/6/2017) usually on a Sunday. This is a MCQ (Multiple Choice Question) based examination. 1 question 4 answer choices. There will be 2 papers – Paper 1 (General Studies) and Paper 2 (Aptitude)

Paper 1 will have 100 questions each carrying 2 marks and you will have 2 hours from 9.00 a.m to 11 a.m

Paper 2 will have 80 questions each of 2.5 marks and you will have 2.5 hours from 2.00 p.m to 4 p.m

Thanks to some miscreants who protested outside Parliament, Paper 2 is being made qualifying i.e you just have to get 30% of the 200 marks to be eligible. Once you are eligible, your Paper 1 marks will be considered.

From the previous trends, if you get around 120 to 130 mars or more, you will pass the preliminary examination.

Only around 13000 students go to the next stage which is called the Mains examination.

STAGE 2-MAINS EXAMINATION

Once you pass the preliminary examination, you will be given a username and password through which you can fill something called a Detailed Application Form (DAF) which can be filled online and submitted online. You must however take a print after completion and send it to Dholpur House, Delhi where UPSC is seated.  This will consist of what is the order of preference of your services, your dad’s occupation, your mom’s occupation, hometown, hobbies, achievements, etc. More about it when you reach there 🙂

Mains exam is conducted over a period of 5 days. In 2017, it will be conducted on 28th October 2017 (28/10/2017)

It will consist of

  • 1 Essay paper – 25o marks – 3 hours – Usually 2 essays each of 1000 words
  • 4 General Studies papers – 250 marks each – 3 hours each
  • 2 Papers of a single optional subject that you choose – 250 marks each – 3 hours eac

So, this totals to 1750 marks

Apart from this, you have to write 1 English paper (300 marks and 3 hours) usually synonyms, antonyms, precis writing, essay and so on and 1 Indian language paper like Kannada, Hindi, English, etc (300 marks and 3 hours).

These are qualifying papers. Meaning only if you get qualifying marks (which UPSC does not reveal but is usually around 25% to 30%), then only your other scoring papers will be evaluated. A friend of mine who had hopes of appearing in the final list lost it because he could not clear the language paper. So do not take it easy.

STAGE 3 – PERSONALITY TEST (Interview)

If you get around more than 900 marks in Mains Examination, you will mostly receive an interview call. Around 3000 – 3500 students (3 times the vacancies) are called to be interviewed at Delhi. These interviews are conducted usually from March to May.

UPSC will give you Rs 10 for accommodation and will give second class train ticket fare (I was amazed at this letter sent to me. It also mentioned I could travel by ship 🙂 )

Criticism apart, this interview is conducted at Dholpur House, Delhi located near India Gate. It is every aspirant’s dream to enter this ‘Holy’ place. Interviews are conducted by boards headed by UPSC Members and every board will have around 4 – 5 members. More about it later. You can also check my interview HERE.

Each interview usually lasts for 30 minutes.

DONE !

Once the interview is over, wait for your results (usually declared during second week of May or June) usually on a weekend so that UPSC receives few phone calls 🙂

By the way, if your name does not appear in the rank list (1 to 1300 or whatever is the number of vacancies), then you start over all again from Prelims. No special consideration. And you would have already filled your application for next exam in the month of February – March only 🙂

Do not feel intimidated by this process and the numbers. Give 1 or maximum 2 attempts for this examination because it is worth it. Why it is worth it I will explain in some other post ?

 

 

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Different types of Services allotted through UPSC Civil Services Examination (IAS, IPS, IFS,……)

UPSC Civil Services Examination is one of the toughest examinations in the World (not to feel very proud of that) because I personally feel that it does not actually test what is required in a particular officer. So UPSC does not know what it is actually doing. What it knows is that there are around 6 lakh students applying for the examination and they have to eliminate all candidates and make a list of 1000 odd aspirants every year. PERIOD.

Why am I mentioning all this in this article? It should not happen that your dad or dad’s friend or a chacha-bhateeja asked you to write this exam and you leave everything to start preparing for this exam. Understand first what you want from this exam. Which services? I am always asked if you had cleared the examination, you should have taken any service given to you. That’s impossible for me but it may be OK for some. It is a matter of preferences. So understand what is in store before you attempt the examination.

In this post, we will briefly understand the Jobs/Services to which you will be allocated based on the results of the Civil Services Examination. Their could be mistakes which are not deliberate in this document. At least, I am taking efforts to consolidate this here. This is actually the job of UPSC but this commission is inefficient. (mostly senile people enjoying their retirement)

GROUP A SERVICES

INDIAN ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICE (IAS)

It is the only generalist service and thus most sought after by all aspirants. If you are a general merit candidate, you must be well within Rank 90 to get into IAS. IAS officers serve both the Central and State Governments and almost all the departments and ministries are headed by IAS officers. They are at the apex and are close to the ministers and people’s representatives.

Example designations: District Commissioner, Secretary to Government of India, Ministry of XYZ, Health Commissioner, Managing Director, Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation, Secretary, National AIDS Control Organisation, etc.

You can see that there is a lot of job variability in this service. So, it could be fun for some people who do not like monotonous jobs. These officers have a lot of power and status since the protocol and the job functions sometimes require many to obey the orders of an IAS officer. They come in contact with all kinds of people.

INDIAN POLICE SERVICE (IPS)

Maintenance of Law and Order is the main function of these officers. It is a uniformed service with decorations. Due to the complex nature of fraud today, IPS also is offering job variability. Narcotics, Cyber Crime, Intelligence, Juvenile Crime, etc are the variations that one can experience in his or her career. IPS officers also head the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF). These armed forces have varied responsibilities from guarding the country’s borders to protecting industrial installations to protecting the Prime Minister. IPS officers command a lot of power due to the nature of the service. They come in contact with many criminals and also other citizens.

INDIAN FOREIGN SERVICE (IFS)

These officers represent our country in other countries. Our country has set up embassies and consulates worldwide. They also represent our country in International bodies like United Nations. Their task is to maintain friendly relations with various countries. They have to maintain Brand India globally. They are also posted in the Ministry of External Affairs in Delhi where most International Policy decisions are taken in what is known as South Block where the ministry is housed.

They get a variable pay when posted abroad to cover the difference in their purchasing power. Maintaining trade relations, cultural relations, academic relations, military relations, etc are again done by these officers. So, they are in touch with the IAS officers, Army officers, etc to coordinate such relations. They are also required to learn foreign languages. The safety and well being of Indians staying abroad is also the responsibility of these officers. I have heard that they get to attend a lot of parties 🙂

INDIAN REVENUE SERVICE (IT)  (IRS-IT)

These officers generate revenue for the Government through income tax. All taxes on income are to be collected in time to meet the expenditure of the government. Of late, lot of technology is also being used in this domain. So, these officers are now required to understand technology too. Both income generated at personal level and at the corporate level are to be assessed and levied by this department. These officers come in contact of many wealthy people who try to conceal their wealth 🙂 They are nowadays also put on election duty to monitor the expenditure of various candidates.

INDIAN REVENUE SERVICE (CBEC) (IRS-Customs)

Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) is a part of the Department of Revenue under the Ministry of Finance, Government of India. The officers in this department deal with the tasks of formulation of policy concerning levy and collection of Customs & Central Excise duties and Service Tax, prevention of smuggling and administration of matters relating to Customs, Central Excise, Service Tax and Narcotics to the extent under CBEC’s purview. The Board is the administrative authority for its subordinate organizations, including Custom Houses, Central Excise and Service Tax Commissionerates and the Central Revenues Control Laboratory. Customs officers that you see in the airports work under an IRS officer.

INDIAN AUDIT AND ACCOUNT SERVICE (IAAS)

Indian Audit and Accounts Department (IAAD) assists a constitutional authority called CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General) in fulfilment of his constitutional duties. Indian Audit and Accounts Service (IAAS) officers serve as the top management of audit department. Audit means to check for inconsistencies, etc.  IAAS officers derive their independence from the CAG’s constitutional independence and work free of political pressures unlike any other Government departments. IAAS Officers work closely with the Union and State government departments for efficient audit.

INDIAN INFORMATION SERVICE (IIS)

These officers manage government’s print media, electronic media, advertising needs of ministries and act as press advisors. They control official media. They get to work for the management of Doordarshan and All India Radio. They work under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

INDIAN CIVIL ACCOUNT SERVICES (ICAS)

The separation of audit from accounts at the Central level has led to the creation of this service. These officers maintain the accounts of the government. Public Financial Management is what you do as an ICAS officer. Thus they manage receipts, payments, pension, accounting and financial reporting and internal audit in the civil ministries.

INDIAN CORPORATE LAW SERVICE (ICLS)

These officers regulate the corporate sector in the country. They are vested with the implementation of Companies Act and Limited Liability Partnership Act. Whether the companies are running according to the provisions of the government is what these officers monitor.

INDIAN TRADE SERVICE (ITS)

These officers handle India’s international trade and commerce. They also formulate India’s Foreign Trade Policy. They also participate in the international trade negotiations at multilateral forum like World Trade Organisation. Export promotion, quality checks, etc are some other functions.

INDIAN DEFENCE ESTATE SERVICE (IDES)

Ministry of Defence is the biggest land holder among all the ministries of the Government of India. Managing this land optimally is the task of IDES officers. They are also appointed as CEOs of Cantonment Boards to look after the civil affairs in the cantonment.

INDIAN DEFENCE ACCOUNT SERVICE (IDAS)

These officers provide financial advice, payment accounting, and internal audit functions in respect of Army, Navy, Air Force, Ordinance factories, DRDO, BRO, Canteen Stores Department and allied organisations.

INDIAN ORDINANCE FACTORIES SERVICE (IOFS)

Ordinance factories manufacture defence equipment. There are more than 1.5 lakh employees working in such factories. The administration of these factories is done by IOFS officers.

INDIAN POSTAL SERVICE

These officers manage and monitor the postal services in our country. There are many employees serving in this department and post offices are located everywhere in the country. So government uses these post offices to provide other services also.

INDIAN POSTAL AND TELECOMMUNICATION ACCOUNTS AND FINANCE SERVICE

This is related to the department of posts. These officers maintain the accounts and finance of the department as there are many employees and offices.

INDIAN RAILWAY ACCOUNT SERVICE (IRAS)

Indian railways is also one of the largest government employer and it has the monopoly of providing rail services in the country, IRAS officers maintain railway accounts.

INDIAN RAILWAY PERSONNEL SERVICE (IRPS)

These officers are like the HR of Railways.

INDIAN RAILWAY TRAFFIC SERVICE (IRTS)

These officers manage the passenger and cargo traffic of Indian Railways.

RAILWAY PROTECTION FORCE (RPF)

These officers serve as security commissioners in the Railway Protection Force.

GROUP B

ARMED FORCES HEADQUARTERS CIVIL SERVICE (AFHQ)

The officers of AFHQ contribute significantly in the functioning of Armed Forces Headquarters/Inter Service Organizations except those relating to technical and combat aspects in respect of the Armed Forces. You start off as a section officer and thus Group B. B is lower in hierarchy than A 🙂

DELHI, ANDAMAN AND NICOBAR ISLAND CIVIL SERVICE (DANICS)

Delhi is NCT and Andaman and Nicobar is also a Union Territory. The administrative aspects of these territories are taken care by the officers of DANICS.

DELHI, ANDAMAN AND NICOBAR ISLAND POLICE SERVICE (DANIPS)

Similarly, law and order aspects of these territories are taken up by DANIPS

PONDICHERRY CIVIL SERVICE

Same as DANICS but for union territory of Pondicherry

PONDICHERRY POLICE SERVICE

Same as DANIPS but for union territory of Pondicherry

 

 

 

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About the UPSC Civil Services Examination (IAS, IPS, etc)

Ministers and people’s representatives (MLAs and MPs) are part of that structure of the government which decides ‘What needs to be done for the welfare of the people and the nation?’. But the working horse of the government is the bureaucracy variously called as babus, sarkaari naukar, ‘white elephants’ and so on. These government servants serve the government and are appointed for a life time i.e until they superannuate at the age of 60 presently. The employees are the government are divided into a strict hierarchy and various levels are called grades or class. You may have heard of a Class 1 officer who is from the apex of the hierarchy. Services like IAS, IPS, IRS (Indian Revenue Service) and many others form the Class 1 or Class A category. Only three services i.e IAS, IPS and IFoS are called All India Services. The members of these services are appointed by the Central Government but they work in a particular State which is called their State Cadre. They also are deputed to the Centre i.e Delhi or any other location where an institution directly administered by Centre is present.

Now, how can one become an officer of the Government? Appointing officers is a tricky job. If you give this power of appointment to the ruling government, then they will appoint their friends, relatives, well wishers to all the posts. Such a system is called the Spoils System. Our Constitution does not allow this. Hence our Constitution has created bodies like the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) and all the States have their own Public Service Commission. For example, Karnataka Public Service Commission (KPSC). These bodies are not dependent on the ruling government and function independently of the ruling government. So, the government cannot interfere with these bodies as far as conduct of examination is concerned. Every year, these bodies conduct various examinations and send the list of successful candidates to the respective governments. The power of appointment vests with these governments. They usually accept the list sent by Public Service Commissions. If they do not accept, then they have to provide reasons in the legislature and as per my knowledge, such a thing has never happened with UPSC Civil Services Examination.

You can visit the site www.upsc.gov.in to know more about Union Public Service Commission. This Constitutional body (it’s structure and functions are mentioned in the constitution and thus it is constitutional body) conducts an examination every year regularly to fill the vacant posts in some 31 services of the Government of India. We will look at each of these services in a subsequent blog post. Based on the rank in the examination, you can choose the service that you want. If you get a first rank, then you have all the choices of services. As your rank gets ‘larger’, your choices reduce. There is also positive discrimination (cozy word for reservation) followed in these appointments. Usually, there are around 70 to 80 vacancies for IAS in the General Merit category.

 

 

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Civil Services (IAS, IPS, etc) as a career

Before I delve into this topic, let me tell you why I think I have the authority to write such an article. I have had this dream to join Indian Civil Services from my childhood. Parents, movies like Tejaswini IPS, red beacon cars, etc attracted me towards this career. During under graduation and later, I really understood the power of IAS (Indian Administrative Service) and IPS (Indian Police Service) officers in this country to bring about a positive change. I tried my best over a period of 6 years to become an IAS officer but did not succeed. In 2011, I did clear the examination but could not get IAS and other services were not in my preference list. I did not even mark IPS as my preference. So I was considered as Limited Service Preference (LSP) candidate. That is something I will discuss while criticizing UPSC (Union Public Service Commission), the body that conducts the Civil Services Examination and gives India its top level bureaucrats and the Ministry of Personnel which is responsible for service related matters of these bureaucrats. I have also been close to some officers including my father-in-law who retired as an IAS officer and hence this authority to write this article.

If red beacon is what interests you, then let me warn you that States like Karnataka have banned officers from using red beacon cars after a high court judgement 🙂 Only cabinet ministers and High court judges can use them. I do not understand why Judges need red beacons 🙂 Maybe because it was their judgement and so they thought they must add themselves.

If you are intending to draw a starting salary of more than 1 lakh rupees per month i.e (around 13 lakh CTC), then Civil Services is not for you. In terms of salary provided in cash, civil services may never be able to match the private sector because of the certain principles on which civil services is based. You may want to find out how much salary you will given during Probation which lasts for about 1 year after you join the training and then the different grades of salary until your retirement. You must look for these salaries according to the Seventh Pay Commission which is the most recent one. You can check this link  though I may not vouch for the veracity of the same.

But in terms of benefits, these services are superior to those of the private sector. Lavish bungalows with gardens in heart of city, servants, vehicle, driver, electricity and telephone bills, children education, subsidized land costs, etc are something unique for these services.

Now. let us focus on the reasons why you must consider civil services as a career. I told you briefly that with these services, you get power to bring about a positive change in the country. Watch the video below to see an IAS officer in action. She is the District Commissioner of a District who is virtually the King or Queen of the district.

These videos may be more than enough a reason for you to think of writing and clearing this civil services examination and contributing to the development of our country on a paid basis.

Civil services due to its century old culture has become a way of life and I would like to call it as a full time paid social service.

Other than this positive feeling of satisfaction that you derive by doing something good on a large scale that has national and international impact, job variability is also another feature particularly that of IAS. You can be a district commissioner, commissioner of your muncipal corporation, MD of Air India, MD of BSNL, etc. During the entire span of career of an IAS officer, he or she will be posted to multiple departments. Such job variability with continued salary is not present in any other job in the world.

I will be guiding through some free videos and articles on how to crack the Civil Services Examination. Follow this blog regularly for new posts.

 

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Inducing moral courage in students at the school

Moral courage is the courage to take action for moral reasons despite the risk of adverse consequences. To understand this definition better, we first need to understand the meaning of “What is moral?”. In general, a moral is a message conveyed or a lesson to be learned from a story or event. For example, we are always being told the story of Satya Harishchandra to convey the importance of truthfulness. Morality is the differentiation of things and actions that are distinguished as proper and those that are improper. Should we always speak the truth? Should we place ‘money’ above everything else? Should we respect elders irrespective of their wealth and educational qualification? : these are the questions that morals help us to answer.

When we are born, we come into this world as ‘blank slates’ without knowing what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. This, we term the child innocence but as we grow, we learn from others. This process is known as socialization – the things that we learn from society. Immediate society is your family, then comes the school with your friends and teachers and later on in your life, it is the work place from where you learn many aspects of life.  In the 21st century, family has ‘outsourced’ most of its teaching process to schools and thus the role of schools becomes very important in creating a personality out of this ‘innocent child’.

Unfortunately, school education concentrates more on the ‘syllabus’ and ‘grades’ which in reality should have been the means to a goal – personality development. The means have become ends in themselves. As far as I remember, the school boards felt the need and introduced ‘moral science’ as a subject. But, we read this also just like any other subject, memorizing and reproducing answers in the examinations without understanding the morals effectively. Not everything can be taught according to ‘syllabus’ and as a subject. Schools must set apart sometime everyday to help students understand and develop their personality.

Moral courage is an important aspect on ones’ personality. We always hear people saying ‘Today’s children are tomorrow’s citizens’ but I doubt that our schools, colleges and education system are producing engineer, doctors, clerks, etc rather than good citizens and human beings. Schools must think ‘out of syllabus’ and introduce students to our ancient culture. One can appreciate how smart our ancestors were when we read something like ‘In the abundance of water, the fool is always thirsty’ in Rig Veda. There are beautiful stories in the Buddhist Jataka tales that will help students to understand morals. We must also introduce to the students, the great thoughts and quotations of our leaders. For example, Mahatma Gandhiji said ‘There is enough on this earth to satisfy everyone’s needs but not to satisfy human greed’. Dr. S. Radhakrishnan in a farewell speech told his students “Do not lose the foothold on earth while sweeping the skies’.

Teaching morality to students is one thing and practicing it is another. Both teaching and practicing must feed into each other if it has to make an impact on the student and his or her personality.  Moral behavior of students must be consistently rewarded and immoral behavior must be discouraged. To save a friend, one need not tell a lie to teacher. To help a friend to pass the examination, one need not allow the friend to copy. These are morals which must be introduced and imbibed in the students creatively and not through ‘rules’ and ‘stick’. Punishment only makes students to use more immoral means to achieve their ends. A teacher must act as a friend and philosopher and help the student to identify what is right and what is wrong. However, a line of caution here! There is a thin line between ‘teaching’ and ‘indoctrination’ and the teachers must be conscious enough not to project their thoughts and ideals on students.

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Delhi’s even odd scheme

The problem I find with Aam Aadmi Party and its prominent face Arvind Kejriwal is that their goals or intentions are good beyond doubt but the way they approach to reach these goals is definitely not the best. Be it corruption or pollution, they start with a  lot of pessimism. In fact, Kejriwal’s tone of voice is also a kind of crying tone. “Sab mile hue hain ji”, “Pradhan mantriji, hame Delhi chalane dijiye” and so on. I do not intend to use this blog entry solely for AAP criticism because I have written good things about them too and also spent hours in Delhi’s Ram Leela Maidan. I am giving this explanation lest Mr. Kejriwal makes me also a part of ‘B-team’ of BJP.

The even odd scheme which is being implemented in Delhi from today is the most foolish scheme ever envisaged by any legislature. De Lolme once said that “The British Parliament can do everything except make a woman a man and man a woman”.AAP wants to prove this statement right for Delhi legislature. A benevolent dictator can have good intentions but the means he or she uses are far from benevolent. That is the reason, things take time to change. Human beings cannot be programmed instantly to change their behaviour. There is a complex relationship among individual, society and other societal institutions. Mr. Kejriwal is not the first person who has wanted change in our country. There are people like Dr. Ambedkar, Vinoba Bhave who dreamt of a country free from some ills that plague us since time immemorial. They did not use any coercive measures. They were not perfectly successful either but that does not mean that we must stop attempting the creative ways they used. We need  more such people.

According to even odd scheme, vehicles with even registration numbers and odd registration numbers will ply on Delhi roads on alternate days. So I will curse myself for having a odd numbered vehicle on a particular day. I will do so even if I possess an even numbered vehicle on some other day. This scheme definitely restricts my movement and a PIL will soon find its way to the Supreme Court and there is a higher probability that the apex court will strike this law as unconstitutional. But you never know because even judges are human beings and they may be affected by scare mongering tactics of AAP. The Delhi Government has circulated pamphlets of a comparison of lungs of 55 year old with and  without significant air pollution. They may be right factually but is this even odd scheme the only way to solve this problem? Wild animals are harmful to human beings. So the best solution is: Kill them ! Such scare mongering advertisements may also be the reason why Delhiites are ‘wholeheartedly’ supporting such a scheme. There are not protests against the same till date.

Car pooling and public transport are very useful. In fact, convenient too but they must not be forced upon the citizens. There are occasions when you need to use your vehicle for an ’emergency’ and this emergency need not be life threatening in all cases. Emergency could be any occasion which requires your immediate presence and has a bearing on your life as well as somebody else’s. The scheme does not address such contingencies. In an emergency, if I flout the rule, then the traffic inspector will still stop me, ask me for proof of emergency and all this will be at the expense of something grave.

There is also an unintended consequence of this scheme. It affects only the poor or the ‘Nouveaux Riche’ . The rich will buy more cars both even and odd numbered and will use it on alternate days. Its only people with one car that too bought on EMI who will be most affected. Mr. Kejriwal does not want the middle class to enjoy the luxury of that single car. If we go back to the ‘cave age’, then air pollution will reduce drastically but the point is not that. We need to come up with solutions that will allow us to lead a good standard of living without affecting the environment.

Sadly, debates in our country do not involve pros, cons. how to fix the scheme, etc. They are only AAP vs BJP vs Congress. Think beyond party lines and find creative solutions that do not impact the daily lives of citizens.

As of now, I am lucky that I am not a resident of Delhi !

 

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The PK message and Misuse of Bail Provision

It was fun watching the movie PK albeit two times. Movies can have a lasting impact on the psyche of people. In that respect, the movie PK spreads a lot of good messages about religion. The movie talks about two types of religion – the one created by God, the creator of this universe and the other created by human beings who call themselves the messengers of God. The movie calls the latter ‘Managers’ of religion.

Wrong number is about the wrong perception about religion and the power of God that are taken for granted by many of us. I particularly liked the correlation of fear with obeisance to God. Larger the fear, larger the obeisance :). We follow many of the rituals blindly without having honest feelings about God. God is a concept that keeps the arrogance of human race under check. That one fear of God keeps us reminding that there is someone watching us and someone bigger than everything else in this Universe. I bet that this psychological effect is more than enough to accept religion and faith as rational.

The messages that the movie in specific directs are the following: Godmen making money by capitalizing on the fear of fellow humans, wastage of milk on ‘Abhisheka’ while millions suffer from hunger, different meanings of similar words or context in different religions, hypocrisy of Indian society particularly towards sex and related matters, some Islamic practices like lashing, offering of wine to Jesus, etc.

What came to me as a surprise was that some right extremists still blame Aamir Khan for singling out Hindu religion alone. This is not at all true since Mr. Khan has covered almost all of the major religions (population wise, may be top 5) in his film. Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs are the ones that I can recollect. Such an extremist attitude clearly shows the threat that a section of the majority pose to the secular fabric of our country.

All said and done, one thing that I did not appreciate about Mr. Aamir Khan is the role played by Sanjay Dutt in this movie. Are there legal provisions in our judicial system that allow a convict serving sentence in jail to shoot for a movie and make a living? If there is a provision, then what is the procedure for the same? I would like other convicts also to come out of jail, work (legally) and go back to jail. I am assuming that there exist no such provisions. Only an RTI application under the right to information act 2002 will help us know the official response to these questions. Should I get some time, I will submit the application or if some of you get the time, then do ask these relevant questions to the relevant authorities. Read my other article ‘Bail as a mockery of justice’ which has a similar theme.

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India as a ‘Hindu’ nation

After many days of inactivity, I am back. Thanks to Facebook. A friend of mine recently shared an article that appeared in one of the Kannada newspapers on ‘Why India cannot be a Hindu nation when western countries can be Christian?’ Debating on this topic on FB comments was a bit tidious and hence here I am writing my own perspective on my own blog :). And to those critics of Facebook, this is just one example of how it can be put to good use also!

In my school days, I never appreciated ‘History’ as a subject which used to be taught under the topic of ‘Social Sciences’. The subject is as good or as bad as the teacher is. That could probably be one of the reason for my disinterestedness. The other reason could be the curriculum and the content in the text books. History was more of …….. In 18xx, King X conquered Y, married Z, killed his brother to usurp the throne, etc. It was more of factual details which had to be critically analyzed by the teacher along with the students. This analysis was probably missing in my ‘history’ education.

Coming back to our discussion on ‘Why India cannot be a Hindu nation?’, the article smacks of the ignorance of the author about the importance of history in shaping the future. European history and Indian history were never the same and equating them would be foolish. The reason why India chose to be a secular nation is well articulated and debated by the members of the constituent assembly which framed our constitution. (BTW, majority of the members of constituent assembly were ‘Hindus’). The variant of Indian secularism is a unique one. It does not mean a total separation of the ‘State’ from ‘Religion’. In fact, there are many constitutional provisions which enable and empower religions to establish their own institutions, to be tax-free (that is how our politicians now keep most of their money here) and so on.

In India, secularism means that the State will not identify itself with any particular religion. This is the reason that the State which provides for Haj pilgrimage also provides for Amarnath Yatra. Such a definition of ‘Secularism’ implicit in our constitution also forms a part of the ‘Basic structure of Indian Constitution’ . So, this is one major reason why India cannot be a Hindu nation.

What is Hinduism ? I am fed up of hearing these lofty claims that Hinduism is a way of life. Hinduism is this. Hinduism is that. What the hell ? How does one become Hindu? By being born to Hindu parents. How does one become Christian? By being born to Christian parents. Religion also has a gory side to it known as caste which is a hierarchical structure that is mostly exploitative.

Can a Christian be Hindu and Can a Hindu be Christian? The answer is YES if you consider these as ‘ways of life’. This would mean that I accept whatever is ‘good’ in Christianity without losing my ‘Hindu’ tag. Reciprocally, it would also mean Christians accepting whatever they feel is ‘good’ in Hindu religion. Such a vision is Utopian thinking for it requires broad mindedness in the people of this country and the people of this world. Politicization of religion has made the realization of such wishful thinking a distant dream if not an impossible task.

So, the proponents of ‘India as a Hindu nation’ should first refine the definition of ‘Hindu’. There is a dearth of men and women like Swami Vivekananda who can reflect on the virtues of Hinduism as well as criticize the religious bigotry that afflicts our society. Religion and Hinduism should move out of the ‘kitchen’ before it can be considered an universal way of life and before India can associate itself with that particular way of life.

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Civil Services Mains Result – 2011

Slog, slog, slog until you become an IAS !!!! This part is fine. But I do not want to be asking later “Was it worth it ?”Click here for the result

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