Published: 30th June 2017
IAS and civils aspirants listen up; the Home Secretary makes it easy for you to stay on top of affairs
Bureaucrat Rajiv Mehrishi’s new book will help civil aspirants stay abreast of current affairs
The offer to write India 2017 Yearbook fell into Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi’s lap just when he was about to retire. Most wouldn’t take it up, but the 61-year-old’s love for research and writing egged him on. While he admits that writing has not only made him a bit of a recluse, but has also made his life seem like it’s “full of lost friends and angry relatives”, the book offers relief to State Civil and UPSC aspirants, as it’s a one-stop shop for India’s current affairs. We ask him about all things IAS and more. Excerpts:
With so many promising professions surfacing, how are IAS and other such posts still coveted?
The answer most often given when asked ‘why this profession’ at UPSC interviews is ‘public service and doing good’. The real reasons are perhaps less flattering. The salaries are good, there is security of tenure (far too much, in my opinion) and a feeling of importance — since the government continues to play a disproportionately large role in our daily lives. Interestingly, the truth is that only those who actually do public service and do good will prosper. So even if you join for less lofty reasons, once you’re in, the reasons stated at the interview should be your focus.
In the time of tech, books remain relevant because it culls out the possibly relevant information and organises it, thus making it easier for the student
As an IAS officer what are some of the myths about the field?
That it is an easy or ‘good’ life. Indeed, the government does its best to make you comfortable but it is certainly not a party. Being in public service should genuinely mean that you are a servant of the public. Accessibility to the people, hard work, sincerity, leading by example and integrity should become central to a civil servant’s life.
What went into writing this book in terms of research?
I researched several articles authored by experts — disaster management expert Kamal Kishore’s articles on disaster management in India, articles by economists Ajay Shah, Rajiv Kumar and Ila Patnaik and so on. I had a research team as well.
Home calling: Rajnath Singh, the home minister, speaking at Rajiv Mehrishi's book launch
Any advice for aspirants?
No matter what their academic degree, civil servants in India are essentially generalist services. A postgraduate in Arts will make as good, if not a better, PWD secretary as an IIT engineer. Thus, civil servants bring no technical expertise to the table, but instead they offer sincerity, hard work and unimpeachable integrity. My advice to my younger colleagues-in-waiting is: be honest, work hard.