UPSC Civil Services: Can an IAS/IPS Officer Really Change the System?

Why do you want to become an IAS officer? If you are preparing to take the UPSC civil services, you would invariably be also having a ready answer to this question. Most of you would say, I want to change the system in our country by being a part of it (assuming of course, that the system needs change), I want to play my part in taking the nation forward towards development, I want to help the poor and downtrodden, I want to eradicate inequality in society, I want to end corruption, etc. Whether you really mean what you say will decide what kind of a civil servant you will become in the future. Other aspects also attract people to this profession like the good pay and perks that civil servants get, the respect that they get in society as this is still considered the top professions in our country, job security and also the opportunity to travel in many cases.

This article throws light on what you can do once you become an IAS officer. Is it really possible to change the system? The corruption in our bureaucracy is widely known and even tacitly accepted. Once you become part of that system, will you change yourself or the system? Will you commit and condone malpractices like bribery, nepotism, adulteration, illegal activities, etc.?

Or, will you strive to root out these fraudulent practices even in the face of stiff opposition from all quarters, possibly face a risk to your life as well? The answer lies in you. It is, at the end of the day, a personal decision. You can either flow with the tide or build a dam against the flow of immorality and corruption. Remember, you might not even get recognition for your correct actions. Instead, you may be transferred around by politicians. The civil services is a profession for many but it is a calling for a chosen few who dedicate themselves to their nation and inspire ordinary people to achieve extraordinary things in life. Let us see a few examples of IAS/IPS officers who with their courage and determination, tried and succeeded in many ways to positively impact the country.

Changes Brought by IAS

T.N. Seshan

Seshan’s name is synonymous with elections in India. A 1955 batch IAS, he is largely responsible for cleaning up India’s electoral process as the 10th Chief Election Commissioner of India from 1990 to 1996. He made the elections a transparent and efficient process by strictly enforcing the law and ending malpractices like bribery and voter intimidation. He also fought, largely successfully against using official machinery for campaigning, distributing liquor during the elections, appealing to voters’ caste or communal feelings, using places of worship for campaigns and using loudspeakers and high volume music without prior written permission. He was responsible for bringing a progressive and autonomous election commission. Seshan, as an IAS, used his power to change the existing system for the better.

Kiran Bedi

The first woman IPS officer of India is a well-known figure. She, during her various posts in Delhi, Goa and Mizoram showed a lot of guts in standing up to politicians and enforcing the law strictly, without bias or fear. She has done commendable work in dealing with the drug menace as well as in humane reformation of Delhi’s notorious Tihar Jail. Currently, she is the Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry. She had taken voluntary retirement in 2007 as Director General, Bureau of Police Research and Development. Bedi won the Ramon Magsaysay award in 1994 and the United Nations Medal in 2004.

Narendra Kumar

Nagendra Kumar was a 2009 batch IPS officer who paid the ultimate price for doing his duty sincerely. In March 2012, he was overrun by a stone-laden tractor trolley which belonged to the illegal mining mafia, in Morena, MP. He was the Sub-Divisional Police Officer of Banmur and was acting on a tip-off about illegal mining activity in that area. He was only 30. His death sparked a debate on the uninhibited illegal stone mining in India.

U. Sagayam

U. Sagayam is a senior IAS officer serving in Tamil Nadu, who has exposed a lot of corruption including illegal granite-mining in the Madurai area. His forthright ways have antagonised a number of politicians and influential people. As expected, he has been transferred over 20 times in 20 years. His office door bears a sign reading “Reject bribes, hold your head high”. He is known for ensuring a clean election in Madurai in 2011. In 2014, the court appointed him Special Officer-cum-Legal Commissioner for investigating all mining operations in Tamil Nadu.

The above list is not exhaustive. There are more such civil servants who have sacrificed their life or their prime in the service of the nation. Watch this space for more such inspirational stories.

If you are tired of being a mute spectator and want to be a real change-maker, prepare for the UPSC civil services exam.

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