Updated April 3rd, 2024 at 13:16 IST

Former Civil Servants Criticize Economist Sanjeev Sanyal's Views on UPSC Exam Preparation

Former civil servants criticize economist Sanjeev Sanyal's remarks on civil service, highlighting its diverse roles and challenges.

Reported by: Nandini Verma
Sanjeev Sanyal is an Indian economist and popular historian. He is a member of the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister of India | Image:Republic

Former civil servants, esteemed for their service in top governmental positions, are expressing discontent with Sanjeev Sanyal, an economist and member of the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (EAC-PM). Sanyal's recent statements have drawn criticism, with some labeling them as "ignorant" and "ill-informed," evoking Thomas Gray's timeless verse, "Where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise."

Sanyal sparked controversy with a series of social media posts asserting that spending five to eight years preparing for civil service exams is a "waste of youthful energy," unless one aspires to be an administrator. Arvind Mayaram, former Union Finance Secretary, rebuffed Sanyal's views, asserting the unparalleled experience in public policy and governance that civil service offers. Mayaram suggests that Sanyal's perspective lacks depth and breadth, advising him to seek understanding beyond his narrow scope.


Similarly, MG Devasahayam, another former civil servant, criticized Sanyal's corporate-centric view of civil service, highlighting the grassroots experiences gained by young civil servants in remote areas. Devasahayam emphasizes the constitutional duties of civil servants, echoing Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel's vision for an independent India. However, he acknowledges the erosion of traditional values within the civil service due to political interference.

Sanyal's assertion that repeated attempts by qualified IPS and IRS officers to join the IAS are "a waste of time" has further fueled the debate. He attributes such aspirations to the "poverty of aspiration" prevalent in regions like West Bengal and Bihar. Wajahat Habibullah, former chairperson of the National Commission for Minorities, acknowledges the need for civil service reform while recognizing its unparalleled opportunities for youth.


Despite differing perspectives, there is consensus among former civil servants that the civil service, while requiring reform, remains an invaluable avenue for youth to serve at the grassroots level and effect positive change in society.


Published April 3rd, 2024 at 13:16 IST