In today’s competitive world, one is dazed by the variety of careers available. The lure of fast track careers, offered by the private sector has reduced the number of candidates aspiring to join Government service as officers, yet there are many candidates who still have preference for Government jobs. Even today, the position of a government officer is considered to be a prestigious one. Out of several careers offered by the Government Sector, Indian Economic Service (IES) offers a very attractive opening to the graduates in Economics and Statistics.
IES is the gateway to an exciting career in which the selected candidates join the service as Group ‘A’ Officers with excellent service conditions. The IES officers are placed in the Planning Commission, Planning Board, Ministry of Economic Affairs, National Sample Survey and other allied offices/departments that need specialists on economic and statistics. The nature of job is that of a specialist but at the same time having administrative mould.
The service conditions offered by the IES are similar to other Central Civil Services. The places of posting are usually in the State capitals or New Delhi. A candidate selected at a favourable age can expect to rise quite high in the career and touch the level of even Secretary to the Government of India, in any Ministry concerned with economic affairs.
The competitive examination for the IES is conducted every year by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) and consists of two partswritten examination and interview. The written examination contains maximum of 900 marks with five papers as under:
Paper-I General English 150 marks
Paper-II General Studies 150 marks
Paper-III General Economics-I 200 marks
Paper-IV General Economics-II 200 marks
Paper-V Indian Economics 200 marks
Each paper is of three-hour duration and is in the form of conventional essay type questions. Candidates are allowed to appear only in one medium of examination i.e., English. The candidates taking the exam should have completed 21 years of age and should not be over 28 years. Minimum academic qualification required is Bachelor’s Degree with Economics or Statistics. It is, however, observed that post-graduates in Economics find it easier to take this examination.
How to Prepare?
It may be observed that General English is a full-fledged paper and unlike in the Civil Services Examination, where language paper is just qualifying in nature and the marks obtained are not counted in the final merit, the marks obtained in General English Paper in this examination form part of the total score of the candidate. Hence, knowledge of English Language plays an important role in this examination. The General English Paper includes an essay, precis and other descriptive questions to judge the candidates’ comprehension of English Language. Candidates with good base of English Language can hope to do well. Essay, particula y, is very important as it is an instrument for judging not only the command over the language but also the depth of20knowledge and expression of the candidate on a given topical essay.
Paper-II (General Studies) has a maximum of 150 marks. Like other papers, it is descriptive in nature and is spread over three-hour duration. Paper-I and II are of vital importance as these papers assist a well-prepared candidate to get a higher percentage of marks. Paper on General Studies includes questions on Constitution of India, Indian History, physical, regional and economic Geography, General Science, national and international affairs, etc. Preliminary and basic study of Indian Political System, Indian History and Geography is required. A good book on General knowledge, supplemented by a good competitive magazine is a must for thorough preparations. In addition regular reading of a good and standard national newspaper also helps in updating the knowledge of current national and international affairs. The question paper may also have a question or two on economic planning and other economic problems, which the candidates otherwise also prepare for Paper-V (Indian Economics).
The remaining three papers are on Economics and carry 200 marks each. First is the paper on Economic Theory consisting of Micro and Macro-economic Theories. The syllabi of Micro and Micro Economics conforms to the syllabi of post-graduate classes in a standard university.
To prepare for this paper, standard books prescribed at post-graduate level for theory are considered to be most suitable. Efforts of the candidates should be to acquire the conceptual clarity so that even the complicated questions are tackled properly. The questions, in fact, are directed at judging the depth of knowledge of the candidates in economic theory. A candidate with a clear understanding of the subject can expect to do well in this paper.
Second paper of Economics consists of other allied theories of economics including Monetary and Fiscal Theory, Development, Planning, International Economics and Welfare Economics. The syllabus for this paper also consist of important aspects of the above disciplines of economic theory, which are taught at the post-graduate level in any standard Indian university. The paper also includes some input on basics of statistics. The candidates are also advised not to leave any part of the syllabus untouched and should prepare all the aspects thoroughly.
While the material for first two papers of economics is available in plenty and in a structured form, the preparations required for the third paper on Indian Economy require special efforts. The problem which a candidate faces in preparing for this paper is that even the latest edition of book on Indian Economics does not contain the latest data. With presentation and analysis of latest data only one can expect to score good marks. The standard text books on Indian Economy, therefore, need supplementing with good and reliable sources of data on Indian Economic Problems. One good source of latest data on Indian Economy is the latest pre-budget Economic survey, which is usually released every year by the Publications Division, Government of India. Another rich and reliable source is the latest Five Year Plan document which also gives an insight into the sector-wise five-year targets and performance of the previous plan. Yojana, a fortnightly magazine published by the Publications Division, is also useful. To get first hand and latest information on the important topics on Indian Economy, the regular feature titled as ARTICLE in the Competition Master is particularly important as it gives latest data as well as analysis of the problems faced by Indian Economy as well as its achievements. Understanding and knowledge of Indian Economy is more important as even the questions on second paper on Economics are also asked with special reference to the Indian Economy. A standard economic oriented newspaper also goes a long way in preparing for this paper.
While preparing for this examination, it must be remembered that it is a competitive examination. Every aspirant is presumed to be well versed with three papers on Economics. Candidates, thus, must prepare well not only in three papers on economics but also in the subjects of General Studies and General English. Thorough study, therefore, is a must to score over other candidates.
Like other competitive examinations, IES also requires planned preparation, determination, hardwork and will to succeed. The competition is distinct from the Civil Services Examination in as much as it has only one medium of examination, i.e., English and the marks obtained in General English are counted towards the final merit of the written examination. Moreover there is no preliminary examination. The competition is slightly restricted, as the graduates with Economics or Statistics only are eligible.
After the merit list is prepared on the basis of written examination, it is followed by an interview. The interview has a maximum of 250 marks and the marks obtained in the interview are added to the score of the written examination, for drawing-up the final merit list. Although there are no prescribed minimum marks for getting an interview call, this is decided by several factors like the number of vacancies and the level of marks obtained by the candidates in general.
Candidates called for the interview have to be thoroughly prepared. The performance of the candidates and their academic record is before the interview board and hence, the interview is aimed at judging the depth of the knowledge of the candidates. The board not only judges the knowledge of the candidate in Economics, it also tries to ascertain the suitability of the candidate for the IES. In this effort, the expression and intelligence of the candidate particularly comes under close scrutiny. The interest of the candidates in the current national and international events is also an important criterion to judge the versatility of the candidates. Other qualities which are also judged are initiative, intelligence, and communication skills.
To do well in the interview it is essential that the candidates carry out special preparations. Allied subjects like Indian Polity, Geography, Science and Technology, etc are required to be prepared. The candidates must also prepare adequately in the current events, both national and international. Regular reading of a standard competitive magazine and good newspaper would help the candidates to prepare well for the interview. Discussion on current national and international issues with other aspirants and friends also goes a long way in assisting a candidate to prepare well. While preparing, the candidates may practice by using the technique of mock-interviews. Interview gains more importance in this competition as the marks of interview come to about 22 per cent of maximum marks (i.e. 1150 marks). In contrast, interview marks form only 12 per cent of maximum marks (i.e. 2050 marks) in the Civil Services Examination.
A thorough preparation would, therefore, result in success of the candidates at this examination and would help the candidates desirous of taking up this prestigious career. The number of vacancies vary from 20 to 40 every year. The selected candidates can get the mundane satisfaction of being instrumental in taking policy decision for the economy within their area of operations. Candidates having right aptitude and interest in a career in economic policy-making may, thus start preparations straightaway.