Why aspirants prefer to opt for Humanities to crack the Civil Services exam – Times of India


Every year several students appear for the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination, conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). Only a few crack the first phase of the exam. According to UPSC data, the percentage of qualified candidates in Preliminary from 2015-17 has been less than 4%.

In 2015, 2016 and 2017, only 3.2%, 3.4% and 2.9% candidates were declared qualified. In 2015, 9,39,735 candidates had applied for the exam, while the number of application in 2016 and 2017 was 11,28,262 and 9,47,728, respectively.

Candidates from engineering backgrounds have consistently been among the qualifiers. In 2015, 55.2% of engineering graduates had qualified. In 2016 and 2017, the qualifying percentage for engineers stood at 59.3% and 66.2%, respectively. Other qualifiers were from Humanities, Science, and Medical Science.

Why engineers dominate
JK Dadoo, senior retired IAS officer and IIM Ahmedabad graduate says to crack the UPSC Civil Services exam a combination of intelligence and hard work is needed. “Candidates from engineering background follow a rigorous study routine which gives them an edge over other candidates. Their mind is tuned for long study hours since they get into engineering,” says Dadoo.

“UPSC tests a candidate’s knowledge about the subject so those who study intelligently and keeping their nerve calm, can get through it,” adds Dadoo.

Popularity of Humanities

Engineering candidates have limited optional subjects from their stream, says Ravi Ranjan assistant professor, Department of Political Science, Zakir Hussain College, Delhi University for Civil Services (Main) Examination. “This leaves them with no option but to opt for Humanities related subjects,” says Ranjan.

Chemical, Electrical and Mechanical Engineering are in the list of optional subjects for engineering stream, according to latest UPSC annual report.

“Most coaching institutes offer training in Humanities subjects, which becomes an easy option for most aspirants,” says Ranjan adding that these subjects come in handy while preparing for General Studies (GS) paper.

High scoring subject

Geetesh Nirban, assistant professor, Department of Philosophy, Kamala Nehru College, says exposure to Humanities is important for aspiring administrative officers.

“Subjects such as Political Science, History and Philosophy etc give aspirants a layout of an administration, the art of administration and an understanding about the human mind which is foremost in the administrative process,” says Nirban. These are scoring subjects and aspirants from varied background end up cracking it.

“Engineering graduates find Humanities subjects relatively easier and complete the preparation faster,” says Dadoo.

Rise of Geography
Among the 45 optional subjects, of late Geography has become the most preferred subject. More than 3000 qualifying candidates from 2015- 17 opted for Geography.

VS Negi, professor, Department of Geography, Shaheed Bhagat Singh (E) College, Delhi University, says the subject is self-explanatory and the syllabus is easy to understand.

“It is easy for Science background students to clearly understand the subject as it is a combination of social and physical sciences,” says Negi, who highlights easy availability of study material as the prominent reason for the aspirants to choose Geography.

Other than Geography, Sociology, Political Science International Relations, Public Administration and History have been the top preferred optional subjects irrespective of the academic background of the candidates.

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