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4 Signs that you will make a good IAS officer

There are good or bad reasons for doing anything or become IAS officer. Good reasons usually produce good results in terms of success, happiness and well-being. Bad reasons tend to do the opposite.

A bad reason to want to become an IAS officer and to give the Civil Services exam is FOMO (link to FOMO article).

FOMO or the Fear of Missing Out is a fear that you will miss out on the good parts of life if you don’t do what others are doing.

Add to that the hero-worship that is accorded to people who crack the IAS exam and you get an irresistible combination of Push and Pull factors which drive millions of young people every year into the race to become an IAS officer.

Are you caught in this trap or are you doing this for the right reasons?

This article helps you understand the right reasons.

1. You want Significance

Wanting to be significant is different from wanting power (—-link to power-shower article). It means wanting to play a bigger role in the world and impacting a greater number of people’s lives.

Significance is one of the good reasons to join the civil services.

This inevitably means that your actions, or the lack of it, will impact thousands of people, multiple times during your career.

Impact is not be mistaken for fame:-

Impact only means that you are expected to serve thousands of people in your job. If anything, this implies how difficult the job is. 

Imagine managing a restaurant, where you only cater to a few clients at a time. On a busy day, you must cater to maybe a few hundred people.

Imagine, in contrast, that now you must cater to thousands, if not millions of clients, each day.

The word client is replaced with citizens to reflect the changing role of state bureaucracies in the modern world. The ethos of the NEW PUBLIC MANAGEMENT Movement in Public Administration calls for increased responsiveness of the administration towards the citizens.

(From Responsiveness to Collaboration: Governance, Citizens, and the Next Generation of Public Administration—link to study)

You will administer laws that impact thousands of people. You will also possibly contribute to making these laws that can impact millions of people.

It is therefore obvious that you will be important to them. But Important does not mean Superior. For instance, a person who puts a gun to your head will become the most important person in the world for you, instantly. This does not make them superior or better than you in any way.

2. You want to help people

If you approach this job with compassion, you will probably draw a lot of meaning and happiness from your job. This is not some stereotypical touchy-feely piece of wisdom. The beneficial effects of Compassion have been thoroughly researched and are well-documented. research.[6] (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22661409)

Brain imaging studies show that practicing compassion triggers the pleasure centres of the brain. (Human fronto–mesolimbic networks guide decisions about charitable donation—study->


more on the effects of Compassion-à

Compassion is one of the most powerful routes to happiness


Embed video-à science of compassion TED Talk à 

Compassion is 100% natural

A career in the civil services is uniquely suited to give you this kind of happiness in abundance, but it comes with some caveats.

Compassion will have to directed and intelligent compassion. You will have to discern how to practice compassion and whom to apply it on. This sounds simple now, but, in real life situations, it can be quite messy and unclear.

No wonder then that General Studies Paper 4 contains a section on Ethical Case studies to judge these qualities in you. link to a separate article

3. You like variation and variety

Variety in your professional life is virtually guaranteed if you become an IAS or IPS officer.

This is because the world is changing so fast that you are forced to adapt. Take, for instance, that just a few years ago, having a cell phone was unheard of, whereas now it is abnormal not to have one.

When I was a child, the word ‘mouse’ was used to refer to a rodent. Now we use it to refer to the thing with which we move our cursors around. This shocking rate of change is called ‘future shock’.

The world is changing at an incredible rate and all organisations, if they wish to survive, must change alongside.

The organisation you want to be a part of- the Government of India, is also constantly under pressure to change faster and faster and you will feel this pressure too.

This brings new challenges all the time. I have worked in the capacity of a lawyer, judge, law enforcement officer, data analyst, general manager during my career so far.

The coronavirus was unheard of a few days ago, and now it is a reality that has changed the world forever. The governments of the world are facing one of the biggest challenges that humanity has faced.

Variety-spice of life

Moreover, your location and geography will also keep changing, as you are likely to be posted to different parts of the country.

The risk of monotony is zero. With your comfort zone constantly challenged, you can be sure of growing into a well-rounded personality.

While this may sound like a good thing, it may not necessarily work for people who find variety destabilizing. There is such a thing as too much variety. There are times when the amount of variety overwhelms the most restless of people.


Stress just comes with the package.

Stress is inevitable, given the fact that your clientele is in the thousands and you have limited resources and face new challenges,

Change is inherently stressful. Uncertainty is stressful. Ambiguity is stressful. You will face plenty of these, I can assure you.

But this kind of stress is also when some people perform at their best. You could be one of them.

If you are appearing in the Civil Services exam, you definitely are one of them. Psychological resilience is something the UPSC is looking for.( link to article—- Hidden messages/ What UPSC wants)

And even if you feel you are not, the good news is that stress-tolerance can be developed. –> link to stress management article

Must Read


  • Figure out how happy you are likely to be in the job before you leap. (link to article).
  • During your preparation, apart from the subjects you will study, also develop the qualities of humility, compassion, stress-tolerance.(link to article)
  • Ask people what they think you are like but know that they will present in their perspectives which are tempered by their biases and limits of knowledge. (link to article)
  • Introspect-You could ask yourself but be careful to trust the voice in your head. Be as scientific as possible in your internal investigations, by taking psychometric tests and constantly seeking the opinions of others who know you.

The knowledge we gain about ourselves through some modern tools can help in developing a more accurate picture of oneself. With this, it becomes easier to put yourself in situations where you know you can win.

Take the psychometric tests-develop self-knowledge. Ask others but ask intelligently.


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