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The Untold Story Behind UPSC Exam: A Word Of Warning  

Indian Masterminds Stories

The UPSC results came this year with the same hype as it does every year. For most people, it is the spectacle of a lifetime as they watch some common citizens transcend the common citizenry to become exalted officers – primed and poised with the power and influence that will surely follow.

Social media abounds with ‘hurrahs’ and hero-worship of the chosen few whose lives will never be the same. Everyone in the country hears about it.

Sixteen of my mentees made it to the merit list this year, and it is a happy moment, no doubt. But there’s much more to the story than meets the eye. 

WHY IS EVERYONE OBSESSED WITH UPSC TOPPERS?

Our society worships this spectacle because it makes people feel like it could just as well have put them in the spotlight. If only they had the means or the motivation to undergo the tiresome UPSC journey, they could clear the UPSC exam too. Little do they know that what they are wishing upon themselves is chronic anxiety, insomnia, and pain, because that’s what it feels like to be one insignificant individual in the middle of millions fighting for a sliver of hope in the trenches of one of the world’s toughest exams. 

The truth is that most people do not have a fraction of the motivation or determination required to clear the UPSC exam. And that is perfectly fine. Not everyone needs to clear the UPSC exam to be successful. 

THE BEST AMONGST US

But, there is something to be said about the ones who actually put themselves through this treadmill of an exam, year after year. Especially those who qualify for the Mains exam.

These people are among the best of us, in my opinion. And that’s because they possess a very rare quality – courage. 

One requires faith and courage to push through a challenge that is most likely to fail. UPSC aspirants become UPSC aspirants only for irrational reasons – because no one in their rational minds would consider it a bet worth taking given that the odds of success are 1 in 10000. And both faith and courage are defined by an irrational defiance in the face of a challenge.

But faith and courage are not enough to get the job done. You would need a very high ‘g’ or ‘general’ intelligence, i.e. a mind that possesses a multitude of cognitive skills – reading, comprehension, writing, articulation, memorization, association, and lateral thinking, at high levels. 

A veteran UPSC aspirant may not look it, but he/she is a formidable intellectual acrobat. 

Everyone who has qualified for the Mains exam is by default someone highly intelligent, hardworking, brave, and determined.

Almost all of them would make good civil servants if given the chance. But there is space only for a few hundred and so, every year, the ones who don’t make it to the UPSC merit list, feel pain beyond measure. To come so close, only to start again from scratch.

Therapists would agree that one of the most traumatic events in the life of a woman is having a miscarriage. Imagine what it would feel like to lose something you have manifested into existence every single day and night, only to lose it when it was almost there.

UPSC aspirants, who appear in the interview and find themselves rejected at the final stage, are traumatized with a profound and deep pain. They face a terrible choice – either to give up their dream or to face another year of uncertainty and pain. 

In the aftermath of the UPSC result, they must absorb the shock of their broken dream, silent and alone. And to think that just after a few days, most of them come out of it after a period of healing, stoic and steadfast, ready for another round. Such is the brutal nature of the UPSC exam and the courage of those who seek it. 

HOW DO I INTERPRET THE UPSC RESULT? 

For Those Considering the UPSC Exam: When you see the celebration, temper it with a healthy dose of reality. For every UPSC topper you see on social media, remember that three other candidates were nearly as good but didn’t make it. Know that if you undertake the journey, it will be painful. Ask yourself why and if it is all you want to do. If the answer is still yes, then jump in and give it everything you have.

A Clarion Call to the Corporate World: The caliber of grit, intellect, and unwavering commitment exhibited by UPSC aspirants sets a benchmark few can match. These individuals have not simply stumbled at a hurdle; they are the undiscovered gems of leadership, innovation, and problem-solving. Having navigated the labyrinth of one of the world’s most challenging examinations, they emerge not defeated, but seasoned, ready to tackle real-world problems with finesse and strategy. The corporate sector stands on the brink of a unique opportunity to harness this vast, yet undervalued, reservoir of talent. The moment has come to shift our gaze, to recognize the profound capabilities of these aspirants, and to integrate them into our ecosystems where they can flourish to their fullest potential. Their odyssey through the UPSC examination is more than a story of endurance; it’s a glowing testament to their extraordinary capabilities. Let’s not allow the depth of their brilliance to be shadowed by the narrow outcome of a singular assessment.


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