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A 24-year-old IIT Delhi grad wrote an email to me - he has been contemplating committing suicide

A few days ago, a 24-year-old IIT Delhi grad wrote an email to me - he has been contemplating committing suicide for the past 1 month.

He started his UPSC preparation in his fourth year in college, and ever since then every aspect of his life took a back seat.

He failed the exam 3 times - including 2 mains and 1 prelim. For the past 4 years, he's been studying 10-12 hours on a daily basis, without earning a dime.

He is NOT alone, there are many like him.

The #UPSC exam has ruined many lives and has broken the confidence of innumerable bright youngsters.

India’s young talent could be building startups, creating products, and could be making a huge impact in the age of infinite leverage. But that doesn’t happen.

Coaching institutes thrive on selling the UPSC dream, and Bollywood movies/TV Series glamourize this dream.

It is high time that UPSC brings in the following changes in the civil services exam. Or else, India's demographic dividend will turn into a demographic 'disaster'. It is a travesty that millions in India waste their 20s appearing and re-appearing for 'Government' exams.

There's a humongous opportunity cost for the nation and the youth.

1. Bring down the time period (low-hanging fruit): 99.5% fail this exam.

India’s youngsters waste 24 months give or take to prepare and attempt prelims, mains, and interviews. If for some reason they fail the exam, it is practically impossible to transition into a great MBA school or private sector.

2. UPSC shouldn’t be a zero-sum binary game where the winner takes all :

If a person has cleared Prelims or Mains - this component should be accounted for in the next year's attempt cycle.

3. There should be a specialized recruitment process for different services:

It is ludicrous to have a foreign service aspirant write the same exam conducted to recruit a Railways officer or a Tax Collector, or a Police Officer.

Except for India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh - this nonsense doesn’t happen anywhere else in the modern world.

4. Create exit opportunities for those in the top 10%ile:

This could be done via partnering with organizations such as BCG, Global Governance Initiative, The World Bank, etc - who are expanding the scope of work in the impact sector.

5. Increase the number of questions asked in the Prelims exam:

Over a million candidates appear for Prelims. The mass scale elimination is based on just 100 Objective Type Questions - where one wrong guess leads to a 1 year wasted.


If anyone in your family is frustrated with the uncertainty of UPSC and other such ‘life-defining’ exams. Feel free to write to me.

From a career in the United Nations to McKinsey to getting laterally hired - you can do a million things to create a large-scale impact.

Do write to me, if you are crumbling under pressure because of a few bad decisions you made in your 20 - and I will cover your questions in my fireside chat series

If you are interested in learning about GGI's MBA Scholar program,you can learn here.


Author- Naman Shrivastava, Cofounder Global Governance Initiative, Ex- United Nations, Former Government of India Advisor

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1 Comment

Where can we write to you sir?

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