NEW DELHI: Anudeep Durishetty, topper in the coveted civil service examinations (CSE), 2017—whose results were declared recently—had an engineering degree from BITS-Pilani, but he chose Anthropology as his optional subject. Nandini K R, who secured the first rank in the CSE, 2016, did her civil engineering from M S Ramaiah institute in Bangalore, but chose Kannada as her optional subject in the exams.
Athar Aamir Khan, second topper in the CSE, 2015, had an electrical engineering degree from IIT-Mandi, but he opted for Philosophy. These examples might look surprising but are not one-off and indicate at a rather interesting trend—that engineers rule the roost in the coveted CSE, but more and more are opting for Humanities subjects.
An analysis of profiles of successful candidates in the CSE by the Union Public Service Commission, which conducts the exams, has revealed that while 52.4 per cent of the total candidates had an engineering background, 88.7 per cent of optional subjects chosen were related to Humanities.
The report also says that others who qualified had Humanities, Medicine and Science background in that order and less than 2 per cent chose engineering as an optional subject. It effectively means the majority of the engineers chose Humanities subjects as their optional subjects.The analysis is part of a yet-to-be-released annual report by the UPSC that has details of those who cleared civil service examinations in 2015.
A 2014 report by the Commission, too, had pointed out at a similar trend as 51.4 per cent of the successful candidates had B.Tech degrees but around 85 per cent of them did not have engineering as their optional subjects. A UPSC official explained that apart from five mandatory papers, every candidate who appears in Mains examination has to write two papers in the optional subject s/he chooses.
“It is turning out that even though subjects like civil, mechanical and electrical engineering are there as optional subjects, most engineers overlook them,” the official said. In 2015, 550 of the total 1,078 candidates who qualified for various services had engineering degrees, the report expected to be released later this year says. Those in the coaching industry confirm that this has been a trend since 2011 when the CSE examination pattern was vastly changed and more engineers started qualifying.
Kuldeep Kumar, centre head of Shriram IAS Academy in Delhi, said about 40 per cent of total students taking coaching classes have engineering degrees.“But each one of them has opted for subjects like Geography, Public Administration, Sociology or Anthropology as an optional subject. It’s because those with engineering background find it easy to prepare for Humanities subject within the 6-month period they dedicate for the exams while engineering subjects have very broad canvas,” he pointed out.
Arpana Singh, a senior counsellor with Chanakya IAS Academy, said General Studies, which is a mandatory subject, has four papers and takes a lot of time to prepare. “Time management is a key challenge for candidates. Since Humanities subjects have limited syllabi, those from science background find it easy to handle. And given the number of successful candidates with an engineering background, it’s evident that this is a good strategy,” said Singh.