Why have I (finally) left my IAS preparations?

I want to feel life’s romance

To jump and sing and dance

To make my life by choice, not by chance

I was extremely crazy about being an IAS officer but then one day, I dropped my plans of being an IAS. And that’s not because I had exhausted my attempts or crossed the age limit. So, in this post, Kids, I will tell you How I met the decision of not going for IAS anymore!

(Disclaimer: Read at your own risk. I don’t want to discourage anyone. :))

So on a fine lovely day, I was watching Iron Man on my laptop and as any other normal guy I became too much inspired by the character of Tony Stark (for those 1.5 hours, after which I realized the sad reality that I can’t invent arc reactor in a single night). And yeah to add, my mains 2013 was just a month away!

You can call me lunatic or over ambitious or both, but I started thinking – “Why can’t I be like Tony Stark??”. Not the billionaire, philanthropist or playboy part, just the inventor part. I mean, I am an engineer (or so what my degree says) and I should play with the natural laws and create things. Moreover, its pure fun.

The greatest pleasure we achieve in our lives is by creating something of our own!

Cook food yourselves and you will love it, paint something and you will appreciate it etc. And what if I say that your creation will be used by everyone in this world, enjoying it, benefiting from it.

As you might have guessed by now, the inevitable was happening – I was getting philosophical! Then over the course of a few days, one thought led to another and I had to ask myself the question which is never to be asked – “Why do I want to become an IAS officer?”

In a quest to look for its answer, I had to flashback to the moment when I had decided to go for IAS preparation. I vividly remember that day as a sepia colored video when a friend of mine, Ajit, came to my room in hostel and started doing meaningless discussions about our future. After like half an hour, I had decided to go for IAS! The reasons were very specific and not too hard to guess- fame and power.

Then a few more ‘like minded’ colleagues joined the discussion and we collectively imagined about bunch of cars following, people standing in rows to take a glimpse and we solving problems of our countrymen standing like heroes. In other words, we were imagining us as Rajnikanth!

Now that I think of it, it makes me feel how idiot I was. A wise man has said-

People suffer more in their thoughts than in reality.

And this wise man (me) has said-

People imagine their future job much more enticing than the reality.

Now, returning back to the forbidden question- “Why do I want to become an IAS officer?”. As of now, I have no convincing answer. After a few years of job (training) experience, I can say that what matters the most is JOB-CONTENT. Yes, I am shouting at you so that you can hear me loud and clear. And what do I know about IAS job’s content? Baba ji ka thullu! I tried it a few times but I failed again and again miserably at convincing myself. And-

If you can’t convince yourself, you can’t convince anyone!

Β This epic failure at convincing myself led to my failure at CSE 2013 and again at 2014 since, I couldn’t find proper motivation for preparing. What I got was just short bursts of motivation eventually proving as a ‘fuss’ bomb. Meanwhile, I was looking for my real passion and I found it in, well, a lot of things!

Blogging, Digital design, Creative writing, Music, Programming, Digital circuits design – Arduino and Raspberry Pi based automation and robotics, Statistics (after watching ‘The Imitation game’), Project management, Operations research, Machine learning and AI were the topics which lured me at one time or the other. I don’t know what kind of ugly garbage will I make if I combine all of them, but it’s super fun!

Anyways, I still haven’t told you the exact answer why have I left my preparations and my 4 year long obsessive-compulsive dream of being an IAS officer. And the reason is- drum-roll please – I don’t think I can do that job!

Am I crazy or what? Who the hell gives a damn about the ‘job’ anyways! All we care about is UPSC and the Exam and Competition and Mussourie and that Awesome training period and that Bandhgala they wear and those amazing Facebook pics with Hon’ble President of India and PM!

May be I am crazy. But may be I am Neo of this matrix. If you also have seen the classic movie ‘Matrix’, chances are that you remember the oft-quoted scene where Neo is given the choice to pick one capsule out of the red and blue one. Picking up jobs is also like that. You can be in the illusive world or you can pick the harsh reality.

I know that I am a lazy guy, but then who isn’t? I want a good night’s sleep, a nice happy morning, time with my near and dear ones and time to recreate. Give me all this and I will rock at my job (or at least, I can try my best). I want to use my skills and keep learning new ones. I want to leave a signature at my workplace. I want to leave a signature in my society, in my country, on this earth. Everyone wants to do that. But-

Right outcomes require right decisions at right time!

IAS is the most prestigious job in our country and the reason behind that is the government runs on bureaucratic framework. Obviously, IAS officers are involved in one of the most important role in nation making and their job is dynamic in nature without a place for monotony. The job ranges from day to day administration to policy making.

But (and its a BIG but), being an IAS officer is not a guarantee of happiness. Neither all IAS are happy nor satisfied. Just like any other job in this world, there is a significant attrition rate even in the IAS. And we all know the cons of this job. Just we choose to ignore them. Unfortunately, I can’t.

Power politics is a bad bad game and I am saying this because I suck at this game. When God was distributing in-born talents, I was butt-kicked out of the camp of “Top 10 skills you need to be ahead in power politics game, number 3 just blew my mind!”

But how can I dare to comment on something about which I don’t have complete information? And that’s true. But I can say one thing for sure – Gaadi, Bangla and Sahabgiri (Vehicle, Bungalow and Officialdom) are mirages. A mirage exists only upto the moment you are far away from that place.

However, I decided to ask some of my friends the reason behind their personal craze for IAS. And the most common Class-I-Preservative-used-reply I got was “I want to serve my people, my society, my country” or something closely related to this. To which I asked innocently “Would you like to join some social service or NGO if you can’t get selected?”. All I got in return was an awkward silence.

Is public administration my passion? Have I graduated in Public administration or Polity or any such social science? No, for both. I have graduated in Engineering and that too from a government college where I was subsidized using the tax payed by my fellow country men. Simply put, when I was spending my four years in college, there were a billion people on my back so that my middle class father could be able to pay for my studies without taking educational loan. But why? Because I am supposed to return my nation much more what I have received.

Now take a look around you. The place where you are sitting – The room, the lights, the floor, the windows, the fan, the AC, the table, the laptop, the clothes and everything that is either in front of you or hidden from you is there because at some point of time, some engineer has worked on it! May be not that item, but on the concept at least! And same is the case with doctors and lawyers and every other professional out there. We can’t imagine our world without them.

We want to be called ‘experts’ but we don’t want to work like that!

Any country needs specialists much more than generalists. What I really feel and I think you will agree with me that, the best ones, should never leave their fields. I have seen a number of my friends who are exceptionally brilliant but are toiling day in and out for IAS. Unfortunately for them, this ‘days’ in and out has turned to ‘years’ in and out! Young people not paying attention to their jobs, not following their job training properly and losing their valuable youth in coaching classes and notes… where are we heading to?

I sincerely believe that if all those brilliant young people, who are trying hard day and night for IAS by sneaking from their job and bunking their classes, start focusing on their ‘real’ passion and their jobs, the productivity of our nation will see a significant rise.

Many people see IAS as an alternative to their frustrating job. But how can one know that he/she will not get frustrated in IAS? And then what will be the exit plan?

No job is without flaws, but if there is something for which everyone is going, there are huge chances of it being overrated. Be a critical person, use your judgement and think about your long and short term goals before making up a mind for something – be it any job.

And so I decided to work only as an engineer. No more peeping at other side’s grass as we all know from our popular wisdom, it will look GREENER! So, I will be happy with the greenery of my own side’s grass and will water it everyday to make it more green as far as I can.

All I am trying to say is – Our job should be something which get molded in our lives such that we forget about it and then we enjoy our life to the fullest.

Life is short, do what you truly love to do!


  1. This is entirely my personal opinion and has nothing to do with my official position or GoI.
  2. Its not my failure, but my experience which has done all the talking.
  3. Please please please share and comment as much as you can. I expect fierce opposition (may be you can provide me the required motivation!) πŸ™‚

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38 thoughts on “Why have I (finally) left my IAS preparations?

  1. Kushal.

    Hi Sagar, I can strongly relate to your article. Civil Services has been (or had been!) a childhood dream for me (society, parents, media etc)….. but the dream has waned considerably.
    I can also strongly relate to your life in general. Lets hope our path cross some time in the future…

    Best wishes,
    Kushal Batabyal, Kolkata


  2. That’s true. You’d not have fit in that job, and glad that you were bold enough to admit it.

    However, happiness is a subjective concept. Some people may actually find happiness in that busy life and even in power politics.
    No, I am not talking about game of thrones. Even without power politics, even without lal-batti, I’m raring to get submerged in that life.

    PS: I’ve already worked in NGO, but IAS is an entirely different thing. I’ve met my seniors who are already in IAS, and I know I will love that life in toto. πŸ™‚ Thrill of power politics, netagiri, etc are also welcome. Oh, that adrenalin rush!


    1. Hi Po,

      Satisfaction in job is what I have talked about here. And as you said, happiness (satisfaction) is a subjective concept. I congratulate you for choosing that path out of your interests rather than just going along the tide.

      All the best. πŸ™‚


  3. AKASH

    Hi Sagar I have been following your posts. I am shocked to know your decision. I respect your decision but i want you to reconsider your decision. i think you have scored more marks than neanderthal in electrical engineering in 2013 cse. he has become ias now. why not you? you have capability dude don’t miss the chance.prepare for cse 2016.All the best;-)


  4. prateek

    Sir U have done a lot of thought in ur decision and it seems u have
    Good balance of logic and emotions in ur thought i like to share my
    Own opinion on ur article .
    First that having fun and being totally in ur job that itself is ur whole hearted
    Service also writing articles,guiding people in their studies by stealing ur time
    From ur free moment says that ur a person of gratitude.i know creatively presenting
    An old topic in a new way( said one of ur article TIMIFYING it)that itself give u a new
    Level of mind and energy,i have told these thing in your favour of remaining in an ies
    Secondly for ur decision of going into a beaurocratic nature job we will
    miss a good Sensitive officer(IAS) who can do a handful job in ground level,
    dealing with bad politics as i have seen my closedrelative some time not getting paid for months for their honest work, frequent transfer and handling powerful goons,maintaining
    Mental calmness in such a situation is not an easy task i am not saying that average person
    Cant do it but these are some realities that we have to face it. But if u maintained the decency
    And honesty u have now it will be a real source of inspiration for all other candidate and a normal person that u can face it and can be a happier person at same time since ur heart is towards engineering and science u know it so i appreciate ur decision.
    Enjoying a nature beauty is more important whether u see it from simple car or a beacon headed car doesnt matter.
    Grateful to u that u post ur thought fearlessly and also for ur guidance.


  5. Surya Prakash

    Dear Sagar bhai,

    Superbly said..I agree with all what u said…
    But 1 question…
    Why you started preparing before self-introspection….”Why do you want to become an IAS officer ?”…

    Although in real sense you did not waste your time….but I think you are still not clear about your real passion…..and have taken a logical decision now and yet to take an emotional decision that what you really need to do….You are now on the path to find your 1 REAL CORE PASSION..
    Am I right ?

    There can be various things one have to do either with full or with partial heart in landing himself with the 1 REAL CORE PASSION



  6. Lucius Fox

    It must have been a very bold decision to quit the preparation considering the posters on your room wall(in dec 2012). But i must say that you have finally learnt to do what is necessary. Hoping to meet u soon in ur new avatar.


  7. Nitish Chaudhary

    Very well said, being an IAS or IES or CEO of a company is not the end game of life. What matters is being happy and content with what one does. A person should not have any regret or disgust in his mind for how his life shapes. The control is in our hand so we should give it the best direction. If a person is happy with being an IAS and the sahabgiri…then cheers to him too. Aim and objective of a person might be as small as earning a days meal or as big as reaching the mars, irrespective of that the world will pace on. And a person like you Sagar , who tries to engulf himself with all the knowledge available that entice you, there are so may milestones to be achieved ( might never end ) , so keep moving ahead. But please keep the near and dear ones happy too πŸ˜‰


  8. Pankaj K.

    Hi Sagar.

    I read the whole article, appreciating the whole thing the writer is trying to express and address. And guess what- reaching the comments section, i see ‘Sagar’. I was blown.
    I heard all good and high of you, then, and realize they were not wrong. Getting some serious pride vibes.
    Hope the generation uses some ‘grey matter’ rather than the ubiquitous ‘dark matter'(illusionary common beliefs).
    My fav- Any country needs specialists much more than generalists.
    Hope things are fine at your end ( the article seems to point something else)- its all part of the game.
    Good day.


  9. Hey Sagar,

    It was truly a nice read! Honestly I didn’t think you’d take any such steps as you were so engulfed in the preparations here at NTPC too. And I thought you might become one and would be as the other IAS officers are in general. Good to know that you had this thought and doing what you want to do.

    I’m also living along the same lines and not only at work! Your article should clear things and make people ask themselves as to why (if) they are also in some rat race towards these competitions. But as I went through the comments here, I don’t think (completely my opinion) that they got the message you were trying to convey here. As far as my understanding goes, you stopped pursuing IAS, because it wasn’t really something you wanted to be when you self introspected. The general concept of education in our society is to take up Engineering/MBBS… after science and LLB… after arts and etc. There’s no concept of backpacking and finding one’s inner passion. What one actually wants to do in life.

    I’d suggest not to go by the suggestions of others of taking up research work, MBA… now that you’ve finally broken the shackles of monotony and convention. Do what you want to do so that you’ll be at least content that you were the one who made the decisions of your life. Successes or failures will be yours and yours only and you would not have anyone to blame.

    And even if you change your mind back and be an IAS officer, at least your essay writing would help you :p.

    Kudos on the article!!


    1. Hello Deepak,

      It was great to have such a nice comment of yours in here. It can’t be more satisfying to know that people are reading this post with a serious thought. As far as suggestions are concerned, they are mere suggestions and I am just receiving them but following them is an entirely different thing. πŸ™‚

      I would be lying if I say that research and MBA never crossed by mind. But I have left them much before I have left IAS prep. Well, Thank you so much for your encouraging words. I truly appreciate it. πŸ™‚


  10. Soumya

    A very nice article.I just want to add that people get motivated by thinking about end result but not the process.So many can’t continue the journey.Another thing is in our country we give too much importance to a few things in every field like IIT, IAS, Sarkari Job, Sachin Tendulkar, Certain movie stars etc. So that these things become such an emotive issue that we tend to think rest all are bad or not worth looking for.I think this tendency should go.


  11. aman patel

    thanks sir , for clearing all my doubts , from last 6 months after completing my graduation i have been also driven towards switching the carrier to become an ias , being a student of science from childhood πŸ™‚ i have choosed engineering as my first choice (though i got low cgpa 6.67 from private university which could also be a reason for searching other option) . . what if i got low cgpa . what if i have never been a brilliant student. the thing that matters is that i love science . i love to imagine the fields that create magic . i love to think in a different way in which a normal people cant (not even an ias πŸ˜‰ ) ..

    while 6 months ago when i decided to appear for cse2015 i was continuously resisted by my heart but my brain was willing to go for an ias .. it took some time to synchronise your heart with your brain .. but then after a while i started to realise that something was left behind , something was trying to attract me those engineering textbooks which were accompanying me from last 4 years were missed .. than i decided to go back and grab those again .. and now i am satisfied that i took right step and did not left my profession .. i want to be a MASTER not a JACK .. and i am proud to be an electrical engineer


  12. Pratik

    Ri8ly said sir
    . but sir still in Grt confusion wat shd I do in my life..shd I go fr Ies or ias?? Now in my btech 3rd yr wid lots of confusion in mind..sir do u knw d main prob in India? Nobody knws his actual passion or wat he wants to do in his life… Do rply sir.


    1. Hi Pratik,

      Knowing someone’s passion is really a huge task. Consider it a major milestone of life. It needs effort. It needs perseverance. It needs experiment.
      Try your hands on different things. Try stuffs you have never done, or even thought of doing. Slowly you will find the things in which you are good at.
      And here lies the problem – we don’t try things. Either we are too afraid of trying it or too lazy. Either way, its not going to help.
      IES is a techno-administrative job while IAS is purely administrative in nature. Many more options are there. You are your own master.

      All the best.


  13. Rishabh

    Alas ! so now u should come for MBA i’d suggest. And i still have the TIME material we bought together in 2nd year and some of my payment is also pending i vaguely remember.


  14. Abhishek Pandey

    Actually its very deep article
    Upadhyay sir if you write book on motivation you will beat chetan bhagat (personal experience and opinion only)


  15. Abhinay

    In my opinion, all the things you have mentioned in the article are converging towards one point: Research. It takes a lot of courage to realize that you are not interested in ‘Gaadi, Bangla and Sahabgiri’, rather all you want is loving to do what you are good at. And as you mentioned you want to work further as engineer to help people, believe me, all that thirst can be quenched once you enter the sphere of high quality research.

    Just my views. Ignore this if you don’t agree.


    1. Hi Abhinay,

      I think you have misunderstood me. I am not saying that I am not interested in Gaadi, Bangla etc, rather I am trying to convey that once you really get them, they become insignificant.
      Quite recently, I got the chance of sitting in a car with blue beacon. Do you know what it felt like? Nothing! That was just a plain normal car from inside and failed to strike any musical note inside my heart πŸ™‚

      As far as research is concerned, I am more inclined towards learning and applying. I don’t want to delve deeper into VLSI and huge matrices and equations. I want to create things using my skills and knowledge. I dream of creating things that have the potential to change the scene.

      Thank you πŸ™‚


  16. rao

    If it is true that you can not do the job of IAS, then you will also not be able to do your job as an IES officer. IES too is more a managerial job and less a technical job. The managerial work will dominate more with your promotions. If you love the technical work and interested in creating something, you should have joined private sector or research field.


    1. Dear Sir, I think that would be a sweeping generalization. What I have written here is the reason behind my IAS ‘moksha’ but nowhere have I said that I am very suitable for IES. Since I am already in IES, I want to feel myself how will it go. And as far as I know, IAS is much different than IES regarding work-life balance, political interference, even job content.
      Up till now, it has been a nice journey in IES. Let’s see what comes ahead.


  17. ajay TIWARI

    Buddy is this just an article, an essay or your decision for future??
    We are quite close for 6-7 months… And I have seen(imagined) an perfect piece of brilliance, being an IAS officer in you.
    If this decision consist of, even a pinch of fear, frustration, or negative thoughts just keep patience and try again with extra efforts…..


    1. No frustration or negative thoughts buddy. Preparing for IAS is a wonderful journey which I will cherish forever. Just that I don’t want to go that way anymore and believe me, this decision was too hard for me to take. I got two sleepless nights in return for this final decision just 10 days ahead of CSE 2015. πŸ™‚


      1. sahil

        Hello sagar found out this piece of your’s…It’s so real and relatable…Is there any way that i can talk to you other than chatting over here.Please,let me know because i really need to talk to you in person…



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