Learn how to crack the UPSC exam and become an IAS officer with stories of women UPSC toppers who passed the Civil Service Exam and became IAS officers in India.
What is the IAS? The Indian Administrative Service (IAS) is a service-oriented job that involves helping the Central and State governments to implement and administer their policies.
IAS officers also provide the government with feedback on the impact of their policies, help the Indian Government measure the success of their policies, and frame better policies going forward.
So, if your intention is to help your nation, be of service to Indians, and make a difference to them, you have a very good reason for wanting to crack the IAS exam and become an IAS officer.
Inspiring women IAS officers who broke the mould
Although the IAS is assumed to be a male-dominated profession, we know that women do very well in service-oriented roles. Here are some of the successful women IAS officers who broke the mould and achieved new heights of success in the Indian Civil Services.
- Anna Rajam Malhotra
Anna Rajam Malhotra was the first woman to pass the civil services examination in 1950 and became the first woman IAS officer ever. Although she was discouraged from joining the service, she argued her case and stood her ground. She was responsible for building India’s first computerised port, Nhavasheva, in Mumbai, and was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1989.
- Annies Kanmani Joy
Challenged by the lack of books during her UPSC exam preparation, Annies Kanmani Joy used newspapers as her reference material and secured the 65th rank in the IAS exam. As an IAS officer, she was successful in breaking the Covid-19 transmission chain by implementing an early lockdown.
- Smita Sabharwal
One of the youngest IAS officers, Smita Sabharwal failed her first attempt to pass the UPSC exam, but topped in her second and became an IAS officer at the age of 23. She was nominated for the Prime Minister’s award for excellence in public service and is popularly known as the ‘People’s Officer.’
- Aruna Sundararajan
Aruna Sundararajan is not only an IAS officer but also the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) secretary and started a project to train people with basic digital skills.
- Ira Singhal
Computer engineer, Ira Singhal, overcame her physical restrictions to clear the Civil Service Examination (CES) in the first attempt. Unable to take up a position in the Civil Service, she became the brand ambassador of the Department of Disability and one of the designers of the CBSE Examination policy for children with disabilities.
- Tina Dabi
The first-ever Scheduled Caste girl to crack the IAS exam and secure the first rank at the age of 22, Tina Dabi has the achievement of having successfully handled the Pandemic situation in Bhilwara, Rajasthan..
- Anu Kumari
Anu Kumari was a mother to a toddler when she appeared for the UPSC exams. She failed in her first attempt by just 1 mark, but didn’t give up, and went on to become a UPSC topper, securing All India Rank 2 in 2017!
- Surabhi Gautam
Don’t be discouraged if you lack confidence or need to learn English. Take inspiration from the story of Surabhi Gautam who overcame an inferiority complex as a Hindi medium student to crack the UPSC exam and become an IAS officer.
- Artika Shukla
25-year old doctor, Artika Shukla, from Varanasi made her city proud by securing the 4th rank in the 2015 civil services examination in her first attempt. She hopes to work tirelessly to bring a positive change in the lives of the poor.
- Pratibha Verma
IAS officer, Pratibha Verma, came from the small town of Sultanpur in Uttar Pradesh and battled serious health issues during her UPSC exam preparation, but still managed to secure All India Rank 3 in the UPSC exam 2019.
- Renu Raj
IAS officer, Renu Raj, quit her job as a doctor to crack the UPSC exam in her first attempt and ranked 2nd in the country. In her 10-month term, she took strict action against illegal constructions and land encroachments in the hill station of Munnar.
- Aashima Goyal
26-year old Ashima Goyal, the daughter of a cyber café owner from Ballabgarh town, secured the 65th rank in the country on her second UPSC attempt.
- Neha Banerjee
Neha Banerjee had an illustrious resume as a graduate of Electrical Engineering from IIT Kharagpur and also dabbled in music, writing, and a corporate job before securing the 20th rank in UPSC CSE 2019.
- Ruchi Bindal
For 26-year-old Ruchi Bindal, it was a case of being the fifth time lucky as she secured the 39th All-India Rank in UPSC CSE 2020. In serving the nation as a civil servant, she wants to work against child marriage and do something positive for transgenders.
So, if you give the IAS exam and don’t succeed on your first attempt, take heart from the stories of these inspiring women who didn’t give up on their IAS dreams.
How much does an IAS officer get paid?
As per the 7th Pay Commission, an IAS officer gets a basic salary of INR 56,100. The Cabinet Secretary is the senior-most IAS officer and gets a salary of INR 2.5 lakhs per month.
In addition to the immense respect that an IAS officer commands, a job in the Indian Civil Service also comes with a lot of benefits and perks, such as travel allowance and dearness allowance, which can bring an IAS officer’s monthly salary to over 1 lakh a month.
Here are some of the excellent perks and benefits of an IAS officer’s job:
- Government accommodation with subsidy
- Security & other staff based on the situation and requirement
- Reimbursement of mobile, telephone, and internet charges
- Household help including cooks & gardeners
- No charges for staying in government hotels or bungalows while on-duty
- Government transport facilities for all state and district level officers
- Monthly pension after retirement
How to become an IAS officer after 12th?
So, how to become an IAS officer? Well, you must have a degree, be at least 21 years of age, and have passed the Civil Service Exam (CSE).
Also known as the UPSC exam or IAS exam, the CSE is the nationwide civil service competitive exam conducted by UPSC (Union Public Service Commission).
It is the most difficult competitive examination in India and is based on the British era Imperial Civil Service tests, as well as the civil service tests conducted by old Indian empires, such as the Mauryan Empire and Mughal Empire.
UPSC eligibility criteria
What is the qualification for UPSC exam eligibility? To apply for the UPSC exam, you must be a citizen of India between the ages of 21 to 32 years. However, these age restrictions are flexible, based on caste reservations and for certain categories of defence personnel.
If you have a 12th pass certificate, have given the final exams of any of the degree courses below, and are awaiting your exam results, you can apply for the UPSC exam.
However, you will only be allowed to sit for the UPSC exam if you have passed your degree course or the equivalent course below.
- Degree from Central, State or Deemed university
- Correspondence or distance education degree
- Open university or private university degree.
- Foreign university degree recognized by the Association of Indian Universities.
- A qualification that is equivalent to one of the above as recognized by the Government of India.
- The final exam of ICAI, ICSI and ICWAI.
- The final exam of the MBBS degree, but not completed the internship.
How much percentage is required to become an IAS officer? Don’t worry about your 12th standard marks! They are not important when applying for the UPSC exam.
The essential UPSC eligibility criteria for becoming an IAS officer is a Bachelor’s degree from any recognised institution.
UPSC exam preparation tips
If you have all the basic requirements to become an IAS officer, you now need to learn all about the UPSC exam and ace it. The UPSC Exam, CSE, or IAS exams are conducted in three stages:
- Stage I: UPSC Prelims Exam – The preliminary examination consisting of two objective-type papers (General Studies Paper-I and General Studies Paper-II, also popularly known as Civil Service Aptitude Test or CSAT). The Prelims are held in June every year and the results are announced in August.
- Stage II: UPSC Mains Exam – This examination consists of 9 conventional (essay) type papers, in which two papers are qualifying and the marks of only 7 papers are counted. The Mains are held in October every year and the results are announced in January.
- Stage III: Personality Test (Interview) – This is held in March and the final results are usually announced in May.
Almost 1 million candidates apply for the UPSC CSE every year and approximately half that many actually appear for the exams. Selected candidates who get through Stage I & II attend a training program that usually starts the following September.
UPSC preparation for a single exam attempt takes two years – one year before the prelims and one year from prelims to the interview. A successful UPSC aspirant sits for 32 hours of examination during the complete process.
General category candidates can attempt the UPSC exam 6 times, while OBC category candidates can appear a maximum of 9 times, and SC/ST candidates can appear an unlimited number of times till 37 years of age.
If you appear for one of the papers in the preliminary examination, it is counted as an attempt. However, applying to sit for the exam but failing to attend is not counted as an attempt.
For the UPSC notification which comes out from January to February, check the newspapers and the UPSC website and apply for the UPSC exam. These exam preparation tips will help with your IAS preparation.
Watch this video with tips from UPSC topper, Artika Shukla, to learn what mistakes to avoid during your UPSC exam preparation. As she advises, practicing with old UPSC exam question papers is the best UPSC preparation strategy to improve your chance of cracking the UPSC paper.
In addition, Artika recommends finding a UPSC guide or mentor among your seniors who have passed the exam so you can get their guidance to improve your UPSC results.
UPSC Topper, Ruchi Bindal, focused on getting into the Civil Service only after she learned about various administrative policies. She says:
You can get familiar with the UPSC exam pattern, UPSC exam paper, and UPSC questions by doing a free online mock test for government jobs here.
Aashima Goyal, who spent nine to ten hours studying daily for the exam, said that exchanging notes and ideas and suggestions with her friends helped a lot.
UPSC topper, Neha Bannerjee, recommends dividing your exam preparations into three parts as follows:
Then gradually follow the basic sources like NCERT question papers, and try to get accustomed to newspaper reading. For cracking UPSC, you have to know about every development around you and newspapers are the one-stop source for that.
These are the foundation elements of this exam that everyone has to cover. And if you are not very comfortable in writing, then I would advise you to get accustomed to writing.”
In the Glow & Lovely Careers community, you can chat with a career coach to know what to study to become an IAS officer and what subjects are included in the UPSC syllabus. You will also get UPSC motivation tips to help you stay positive while studying for the exam.
Free courses to prepare for the UPSC exam
In the Glow & Lovely community, as part of your self-preparation for IAS exams, you can learn English online free and improve your English speaking skills with these free online courses with certificates.
Public Administration is one of the optional subjects in the UPSC Civil Services Main Examination and a popular UPSC subject choice because of its relevance for IAS aspirants. The free courses below will help you with the public administration syllabus for UPSC exam preparation.
Introduction To Public Administration from NIIT
Public administration is the implementation of government policy and also an academic discipline that studies this implementation and prepares civil servants for working in the public service.
This free Introduction To Public Administration Course from NIIT will give you an introduction to this field of inquiry with the fundamental goal of advancing management and policies so that government can function.
Master in Public Admin from NIIT
This Master in Public Admin course from NIIT will teach you more about public administration, and upon successful completion, you will be able to:
- Demonstrate considerable knowledge of historical, comparative, and theoretical perspectives on public administration, management, and governance
- Demonstrate considerable knowledge of key debates and thinking in public administration, management, and governance
- Demonstrate considerable knowledge of research principles and methods relevant to public administration, management, and governance
- Apply theories, concepts, and research methods in investigating and analyzing the complexities and challenges of public administration, management, and governance
- Apply knowledge and skills in self-management, communication, and teamwork activity in responding to the complexities and challenges of public administration, management, and governance.
In the Glow & Lovely Careers community, you can chat with a career coach and get free online career guidance, exam study tips, and UPSC information to help you achieve your career aspirations of becoming an IAS officer.
We wish you the best of success with your UPSC exams preparation and with cracking the CSE!
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