Author: Padmanabha K. V., Assistant Professor, Department of Journalism, University College of Arts, Tumkur.
Yes, finally we have broken the myth. We have proved that we too can bell the cat. Not five or ten, Karnataka has managed to secure a total of 65 ranks in the Civil Services exams, the longest and the toughest examinations of the country, the results of which were declared recently.
Kannadigas have a unique capacity that they carve a niche in whichever field they enter within a very short span of time. In fact, they hesitate to say ‘no’ to any task. May it be literature, education, medicine, media, technology, agriculture, business, politics, software… they have created their own identity in almost all fields of significance.
But… there was no answer to the question why these people were lagging in cracking the Civil Services exams, the most prestigious and challenging tasks of the country. Whenever the IAS, IPS exam results were out, people used to get disappointed to see only 3-4 ranks for them in the entire list of 700-800 winners.
Well, no more regret. The woes have come to an end. If you observe the results of the Civil Services exams of the past 2-3 years, it becomes evident that Kannadigas have broken the myth, and have constructed their own superhighway.
Promise of new illennium
Karnataka was nowhere in the scene a decade ago in terms of Civil Services exams. Securing even 2-3 ranks at the all-India level was a big issue. It was in 2000, Ms. Vijayalakshmi Bidari made the state proud by securing the very first rank. She was not just the first Kannadiga to be the topper, but was perhaps the first woman from the entire south India to top the list. And there started the Kannadigas’ treasure hunt.
Of the 425 members who made into the list of successful candidates in 2005, there were 23 people from Karnataka. In 2007, seven candidates from the state cleared the exams. The number rose to 16 in 2009. Of the 920 ranks declared in 2010, 23 were from Karnataka. Yes, as per the results of the 2011 CS exams which were out in the first week of this month, the state has secured 65 ranks altogether.
A matter of pride indeed. However, this is not the time we have to spend in just celebrations. We should understand that this is the time for introspection.
When compared to the other parts of the country including the neighboring states, we have a long way to go. The number of ranks Karnataka has been securing is not something extraordinary when compared to the number of IAS/IPS officers coming forth from Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Delhi, Patna or Chandigarh.
The total number of successful candidates was just 425 in 2005. It increased to 638 in 2007, 791 in 2008, 875 in 2009, 920 in 2010… the number of ranks are increasing year after year. When compared to this, our achievement is nowhere. The number of IAS or IPS positions required for the country is increasing every year. According to official statistics, presently there are over 3,100 IAS/IPS posts are lying vacant in the country.
No qualitative increase
Another point is that, the ranks we are securing have witnessed a quantitative increase, but not qualitative. In 2005, there were two Kannadigas in the Top-25 list. Though the total rank holders are 65 this time, nobody is in the Top-25 list. The first three ranks have been secured by Haryana, Punjab and Chandigarh respectively. Last time, the first and the third ranks had been secured by Tamil Nadu and the second rank had been secured by Andhra Pradesh. Remember, of the Top-25 ranks, Delhi alone has secured 13 ranks this time.
According to experts, the reason for Karnataka’s poor performance in Civil Services exams is not the lack of intelligence or perseverance of the people here, but the lack of orientation and the increased attractions of other kinds. Children in the leading states (in terms of their achievements in the CS exams) start preparing for these kinds of competitive exams during their secondary school itself. Their parents and teachers too have a different kind of orientation and awareness. Meanwhile, even after their graduation many of our students do not know what would be the qualification for a Deputy Commissioner. They don’t think they have the potential to crack these exams and grab the much coveted administrative positions of the country; or they don’t have an atmosphere in their family or schools to make them to think so.
Most of the students, and even their parents, are behind the software industry. Becoming a doctor or engineer is a prestige question for them. Such people never have a serious thought over the Civil Services exams. But now they have to understand that the top ranks in the IAS, IPS exam are being grabbed by these doctors and engineers themselves. Just look at this: Ms. Shena Agarwal, the topper of this year, is a graduate in medicine. Ms. Shweta Mohanti, the second rank holder in 2010 was a computer engineer, while Mr. Varun Kumar, the third rank holder was a dentist. The first rank holder in 2009, Mr. Shah Fisal was a doctor, while Mr. Prakash Raj Purohit, the second rank holder was an engineer. Ms. Shubhra Saxena, the 2008 topper was a software engineer. Mr. Adapa Karthik, the 2007 topper was a doctor. It should also be noted that many of the candidates from Karnataka who made into the list in the recent years are also from the same kinds of background.
Need for coaching
We have a long way to go in terms of coaching too. Though a few coaching centers are getting popular these days, they are all Bangalore-centered. There are hundreds of coaching centers in cities like Chennai, Hyderabad or Delhi. It is not that coaching is the ultimate solution for all the problems, but the humble candidates from our rural areas who may need coaching, are not in a position to approach the ones in big cities and spend thousands of rupees.
These are some of the challenges before us which need to be tackled. Undoubtedly, we have laid a superhighway of our own, which is a matter of pride and jubilation. But this should lead us to introspection. Because, “miles to before we sleep…”
(A Kannada version of this piece may be referred in the following link: ‘Kannada Prabha’ dated 11 May 2012)