1. Prologue
    1. [Input] From UPSC members: Rajni Razdan, Alka Sirohi, KK Paul
    2. [Input] UPSC members: IMG Khan & Lt.Gen Surinder Nath (retired)
    3. [Input] Dr.APJ Kalam
    4. [Input] Directors of LBSNAA, SVNPA, IIPM, NDA et al
    5. [Input] CIC Satyananda Mishra
    6. [Input] CAG Vinod Rai
  2. Why Reduce Age Attempt Limit?
    1. #1: Most toppers are from 21-28 age group
    2. #2: Research scholarship misused for UPSC prep
    3. #3: Eminent People agree
    4. #4: Older toppers are inflexible in training
    5. #5: Older Toppers are corrupt & selfish (!)
    6. LBSNAA Director disagrees on age reduction
  3. Why Reduce No. of Attempts?
    1. #1: Youth wasting their life
    2. #2: Reserve category: Age relax yes, but same attempt
    3. #3: Toppers misuse attempt
    4. #4: CAG Vinod Rai: Attrition of IA&AS toppers
    5. #5: LBSNAA Director: Menace of Dropouts
  4. Nigvekar: Final report on Age/Attempt limit
  5. Download Original Report of Nigvekar Committee


Highlight of Nigvekar report (four parts)

  • part1: Input from eminent people to Nigvekar, Age –attempt limit
  • part2: prelim reforms
  • part3: mains reforms
  • part4: Interview reforms

Nigvekar report- feedback from President CAG CIC

[Input] From UPSC members: Rajni Razdan, Alka Sirohi, KK Paul

26/2/2012: Nigvekar interacts with UPSC members: Rajni Razdan, Alka Sirohi, KK Paul, Nirmal Sharma, et al. During the meeting, following suggestions came:

  1. Prelims and mains can be clubbed together. (= just one exam then interview)
  2. In UK and France, there are no optional subjects. We should follow the same method. (=remove optionals)
  3. Remove the regional language paper.
  4. Age limit : 21-26
  5. Fix Minimum marks or percentile in graduation. Don’t let everyone apply for the prelims.
  6. Online prelims, score card with two years’ validity. (= senior player need not appear in prelims again).
  7. Review exam system after every five years.
  8. Re-design interview system to assess the “SOFT QUALITIES” of candidates- e.g. emotional quotients, man management skills, and leadership qualities etc.
  9. Psychological testing of candidates- on the model of Defense institute of psychological research.

[Input] UPSC members: IMG Khan & Lt.Gen Surinder Nath (retired)

  1. If the Committee wants to bring any radical change, its acceptance may be a difficult proposition since there has been a tendency of having a status-quo.
  2. The basic qualities which are required from a civil servant are a person having an all-round personality, a strong character, moral courage, honesty and integrity. The existing system does not cater to above and we have to identify this deficiency and resolve it.
  3. We have four options available before us, namely,
    1. continuing with the present system where more emphasis is towards academic qualities;
    2. to devise a test mechanism to assess the strength and knowledge of the candidate in a subject to be dealt in his service career, like done in France;
    3. Select the candidates from 10+2 level. Put them in an academy and train.
    4. UK system: case studies on first stage and third stage of the examination.
  4. Qualities of toppers are not found to be very good. There is general rote-learning approach among them.
  5. optional subjects and their syllabi are not of uniform standard.
  6. Some subjects are more preferred by the candidates and there are lots of papers which are overlapping in nature.
  7. General Studies tries to cover huge range of topics from variety of subjects which some times becomes impossible for the candidates to cover. Instead of existing General Studies paper UPSC should introduce two papers in line with three compulsory paper suggested by Alagh Committee and all the testing may be done in objective format.
  8. Essays also have become a matter of rote. Instead of the conventional Essay paper, the candidates may be asked to write a paper on an issue on which some basic data can be provided. Précis should be brought back.
  9. It may be difficult to get rid of optional paper. Therefore, one optional paper may be kept in the scheme of examination which is more akin to the academic area and another subsidiary subject (may be of less weightage and of the lower level) that will provide inter disciplinary approach. it would remove the scorability sector.
  10. Single answer paper may be evaluated by more than one examiner to assess different facets. (in other words, right now single answerpaper is evaluated by just one examiner, irrespective of what UPSC’s official site claims!)

[Input] Dr.APJ Kalam

#1: Ethics in Mains

  • Selection processes across the world lay stress on testing ethical aptitude.
  • For example- Certified Financial Analyst (CFA) exam in USA.
  • Full course on ethics and business is being taught in IIM-A.
  • Such a test can be designed for objective evaluation of candidates. Such ethical test should cover
    1. ethical administration
    2. Impartiality: working in a diverse, multicultural environment and maintaining fairness in transaction.
    3. Principles of natural justice
    4. Maintain ethical transaction in situation of stress from higher authorities and conflicting information system
    5. Encourage others to maintain ethics in their transaction
    6. finally, the candidate should be able to treat all the citizens as he would like to be treated himself.

(Mrunal comments: in part III of this report series, we’ll see that Nigvekar’s original syllabus for GS4 did not contain much ethics. But UPSC had incorporated a larger syllabus of ethics. So perhaps, it was based on above recommendations of Dr.Kalam)

#2: Reform Interview system

In Armed forces, grade-I officers are selected after a psychology test. Such mechanism/method should be included in civil service as well. The interview panel should include a professional psychologist or a CEO with a proven track record of working with integrity and succeeding with integrity.

  1. For studying the effectiveness of the selection system, UPSC may use the service of a professional consultant every five years to determine the co-relation between the UPSC ranking and field performance of the candidate.
  2. Involvement of UPSC in the training and post-training placement: Must be minimal. However; UPSC can take part in a review of the selected candidate after the training period at post-training establishments for assessing the relationship between the aspiration of the candidate before selection and the tasks which he or sheds going to perform after the training period.
  3. UPSC should employ a strategic management consultant to study and bring out the best performing civil service officers through detailed case studies. This case material can become a reference material for the civil service aspirant and also the civil service probationers in different institutions.
  4. There must be a system of celebrating best performers in the district.

[Input] Directors of LBSNAA, SVNPA, IIPM, NDA et al

10/4/2012: Nigvekar meets with the heads of various training academies. Following suggestions came:

  1. Candidates select optional subjects by the advice of the coaching-institutes which claims to have an expertise to predict the scorability factor. => restrict candidates from selecting only the subjects studied at graduation level.
  2. Coaching classes thrive on predictability factor of this exam- they’re the most undesirable activities in present day scenario.
  3. The present system doesn’t measure non-cognitive skills of a candidate. It is difficult for the interview board also to read the mind of the candidates within such a short interview span.
  4. Give training to the interviewers!
  5. Interview board should enforce that candidate is not saying anything which is tutored by coaching classes. In UK – they give candidate a home test and the same test is given again when they come for interview. If difference of marks is more than 30%, he is not taken in because they believe that the home test was copied from somewhere and this certainly reflects on one’s integrity. The idea of this test is to judge the moral dimension and integrity of a candidate. Therefore ethical values of the candidates must be tested.

[Input] CIC Satyananda Mishra

Now Ex-CIC but in 2012 he was the CIC.

  1. IAS officers have some sense of elitism which has lowered the sense of serving the people. On the other band the expectations of the public has grown up with increasing number of rights granted to them through amendments in the constitution of India.
  2. Media has become more pervasive and civil societies have become active. The UPSC notifies Civil Services Examination but this Notice does not clarify what each civil service actually is, and what are the responsibility involved.
  3. Candidates are given large number of attempts, within which a pattern which can be mastered by the grace of coaching institute. Therefore, there is an emergent need to reduce the upper age limit as well as the number of chances.
  4. Instead of optional paper the candidate should be tested on common subjects which will certainly give advantages to the bright lot.
  5. Regional language paper is redundant (useless) because 66% of the toppers are posted outside their home-state.

[Input] CAG Vinod Rai

  1. Probationers in the Indian Audit and Accounts Service were found to be lacking language skill, especially in English language. English continues to be a language of communication in the country. (Regional) Language medium is adding complexity to the situation.
  2. Testing of optional subject is essential. If a student of science background is capable to crack. the examination with an optional subject like Public Administration or Geography his proficiency level high.
  3. Age limit of 30 years is too high because a candidate selected at a higher age group is found to be less trainable and becomes easy prey -to corruption. As a person ages, the basic value system of a person changes. Ideal upper age limit should be 26 years.
  4. Since toppers from less preferred services continue re-appearing in civil service exam. Such as situation is causing very high rate of attrition which is about 25% every year in Indian audit and account service. This is causing colossal loss of national resources.
  5. Candidate should have atleast 50% marks in 12th std or graduation level

–enough inputs from eminent people (you can read more under Ch.4 and Annex1), now let’s start with Nigvekar’s report itself–

Why Reduce Age Attempt Limit?

Nigvekar’s arguments starts from Ch4, Page59 onwards

#1: Most toppers are from 21-28 age group

  • From the statistical data of 2007-2011, it is found that most candidates get selected in the age group of 21 to 28 years.
  • Higher age limit leads to loss of productive years and the self-confidence of the candidates who keep making repeated attempts in this examination.

#2: Research scholarship misused for UPSC prep

(ch3 page 54)

  • Unemployed aspirants are funded by central government or state government scholarships (for research).
  • However it is also found that aspirants donot utilize their grants for what they’re meant (research), instead it is seen as a safety net and a regular source of income during the preparation of civil service exam, while (such) aspirant usually devotes 5-9 hours on preparation daily.

#3: Eminent People agree

Eminent people What they recommended to Nigvekar
some UPSC members 26 years
UPSC’s own research wing 25 years
CAG Vinod Rai 26 years

#4: Older toppers are inflexible in training

Ch4, Page62

  • This Committee, in its deliberation with various stakeholders as well as other eminent persons and heads of training academies was informed that the upper age limit of 30 years is affecting the quality of intake.
  • They felt that a person recruited at an older age becomes inflexible in nature and cannot be moulded suitably as per the desired skills of civil servants.
  • A policy of “catch them young” will certainly help better trainability and shaping the mindset of the candidate. Officers starting at a younger age would be more energetic, optimistic, enthusiastic, ready to take challenges and can perform well in comparison to those who join late and have accumulated family obligations and become less dynamic.

#5: Older Toppers are corrupt & selfish (!)

Ch4, Page61

  • At the age of 30 and above, recruits can hardly be thus molded. By this age, an average person would have spent five to seven years after leaving educational institutions and might have held some jobs. Without prejudice to those jobs, it may be stated that such jobs are not always likely to be of a nature that will prepare a candidate for the civil services.
  • The result of higher age limit is recruitment of rather older persons who might have already developed a self-centric worldview, and are not, very likely to change their attitudes after being recruited into the civil services.
  • Furthermore, if they join at a late age, their chances of rising to the highest positions get reduced. This could adversely affect their career outlook and morale. They are more likely to take bribes and misusing public office for personal gain.
  • It is, therefore, very important that, as far as possible, the field of recruitment for the civil services be confined to fresh graduates/ post graduate candidates of a relatively younger age.
  • Nigvekar  therefore recommend the upper age limit should be reduced by following the principle of “catch them young” so that the selected lot can be moulded and trained for making good civil servants.

Mrunal comments:
Then why was there Sukhna land scam, canteen scams and Ketchup colonel in Indian army ….despite that fact that all such officers were recruited “young” through NDA/CDS exams?
Consider this:

Sarkaari Naukari upper age to apply
United nations Civil service exam 32
USA: IRS special agent (Internal Revenue Service) 37
France 40 (provided the candidate has 8 years’ work-experience)

So, on Nigvekar logic- UN, French and American bureaucracy out to be the most bogus, corrupt and inefficient in the world.
Ye Delhi ke Uncle-ji log (Chairman DP Aggarwal, Prof.Nigvekar)…they live in a fantasy world, they think only two type of candidates appear in UPSC:

Category “A” Senior players all of them are automatically crooks & rot-learners, they’ve spent lakhs in coaching and want to recover crores via bribes and dowry.
Category “B” First timers all of them are automatically honest, they’ve have never taken coaching, they will never demand bribes and dowry.

In Aggarwal / Nigvekar’s world-There is no “C” category i.e. people from small towns and villages, who involuntarily became senior due to lack of awareness booklist-strategy, and who are continuously massacred as innocent bystanders while UPSC tries to protect “B” category from “A” category through its BackbreakingTM moves.

LBSNAA Director disagrees on age reduction

LBSNAA Director Param Vir Singh’s input on page 164

  •  (some) People are entering Civil Service at the age of 37 years. It is a good sign that people are coming from diverse technical backgrounds.
  • I would feel that we should not loose them since they can bring new set of skills, competencies, practices.
  • I’m not conservative about age. A person can bring his experience in to the civil service if he had worked anywhere else earlier.
  • DONOT allow toppers to re-appear in the exam again. HE must not be given leave for this purpose. The dropouts from training academy have become a nightmare and an endless business.
  • Total marks of selection should be balanced between UPSC evaluation (50%) and evaluation by the Training academy (50%).
  • Candidates should be counseled by the academy for allocation of service.

Why Reduce No. of Attempts?

Nigvekar gives his arguments in Ch4, Page62

  • High number of attempts leads to high attrition in various services and vacancies are left unfilled in the services in real terms.
  • More importantly, this also leads to favoring candidates who are able to get a distinct advantage on account of experience in the examination system and promotes learning by rote.
  • There is also a colossal waste of human efforts and financial loss to the government towards imparting training to candidates who leave the training in the mid-way.
  • Even ARC recommended a reduced number of 03 attempts for general category candidates, 05 attempts for OBC, 06 for SC/ST and PH category candidates.

#1: Youth wasting their life

  • Due to large number of permissible attempts in the Civil Services Examination, a large number of youth may be wasting their precious years in life.
  • At the end of the entire process after repeated unsuccessful attempts, quite a few of them may not remain employable since repeated attempts at the examination promote rote learning and general frustration.
  • This may also be a cause for creating a negative attitude and frustration.
  • There is a need for channeling their energy to productive work.

#2: Reserve category: Age relax yes, but same attempt

  • Equal number of chances will not pose any problem to any particular community/category. This would, in fact allow better candidates from all categories to qualify in the civil services.
  • The age relaxation for various categories could continue, in order to compensate candidates for delays faced by them in obtaining the required minimum qualification on account of their social or physical disabilities.

#3: Toppers misuse attempt

  • Successful candidates donot stop giving Civil service exam. They channelize their efforts in getting a better rank in the next attempt, instead of focusing on job-training.
  • This results into High attrition rate amongst various services since candidates are availing further chances after getting selected only in order to improve their ranks and try to get a service which, in their opinion, is better than the service which they have been offered earlier.
  • It is, in a way, a great wastage of public money and resources.
  • This also leads to vacancies remaining unfilled in quite a few of the services in practical terms.
  • Therefore there should be some restrictions on multiple attempts by a selected candidate.
  • IAS and IFS toppers are prohibited from giving attempts again. Similar rules need to be created for other services.

#4: CAG Vinod Rai: Attrition of IA&AS toppers

  1. Toppers from less preferred services continue re-appearing in civil service exam.
  2. Such as situation is causing very high rate of attrition which is about 25% every year in Indian audit and account service.
  3. This is causing colossal loss of national resources.

#5: LBSNAA Director: Menace of Dropouts

  • DONOT allow toppers to re-appear in the exam again.
  • HE must not be given leave for this purpose.
  • The dropouts from training academy have become a nightmare and an endless business.

Nigvekar: Final report on Age/Attempt limit

  • General 25 years
  • OBC: 28 years
  • SC/ST: 30 years
Age limit: 21-32 for general category, with suitable relaxation for reserved categories [As per 2014 DoPT circular]
  • 5 attempts irrespective of category He belongs to
Attempts: 6 attempts for General category, with suitable relaxation for reserved categories [As per 2014 DoPT circular]
Only one more for topper in training no such limitation

Download Original Report of Nigvekar Committee

for the public record, I’ve uploaded entire report (minus a few useless pages) on following link
Total 50+MB. and I don’t recommend you download his report (and waste your internet bandwidth). The reasons are following

  1. ch1 talks about evolution of civil service exam- from British Raj till now. The summary already available in 2nd ARC reports. This chapter is deep Ph.D, useless for studies- even for Public Administration.
  2. ch2 talks about the recommendations of Committees before Nigvekar (Kothari, Khanna, Alagh etc. but their summary also available in 2nd ARC report- in more eye candy fonts. This pdf is not as high quality as 2nd ARC.)
  3. Ch3, 4, 5, 6 and annex 1 are covered in my [Nigvekar] series four articles)
  4. Annex 2 deals with recruitment system in USA, France etc. = useless because that syllabus topic was helpful in MCQs of Public Administration prelims. But now prelims doesn’t have optional subjects.

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