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Business News/ Economy / ‘UPSC is boring, there is poverty of aspiration among the youth,’ feels economist Sanjeev Sanyal
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‘UPSC is boring, there is poverty of aspiration among the youth,’ feels economist Sanjeev Sanyal

Sanjeev Sanyal feels India's youth are not dreaming beyond becoming civil servants, adding that they do not see themselves as Elon Musk or Mukesh Ambani, or Flipkart's Sachin and Binny Bansal amomg

File image of economist Sanjeev Sanyal. He shared his opinion on Bihar’s UPSC craze and aspirations of the Indian people on the 'Neon Show' (Photo by Pradeep Gaur/Mint)Premium
File image of economist Sanjeev Sanyal. He shared his opinion on Bihar’s UPSC craze and aspirations of the Indian people on the 'Neon Show' (Photo by Pradeep Gaur/Mint)

Economist and Economic Advisory Council (EAC) member Sanjeev Sanyal did not mince words on what he called a "poverty of aspiration", adding that the emphasis on cracking UPSC and becoming a civil servant "reflects limited aspirations". He shared his opinion on Bihar’s UPSC craze and aspiration of the Indian people while speaking on Siddhartha Ahluwalia's 'Neon Show' on YouTube.

West Bengal, Bihar and Kerala have followed the same path and ended up with similar leaders, as per Sanyal. He said, "It's not just a problem of Bengal having the poverty of aspiration. Even Bihar and Kerala. These states have followed the same and ended up having the same set of leaders. (West Bengal) aspired to (be) pseudo-intellectuals and union leaders, Bihar aspired to (be) small-time, local goon politicians. So in an environment where those are the role models, you can either become a local goon if you don't want to become a local goon, you don't know your way out, is to basically become a civil servant."

A Poverty of Aspiration, says Sanyal

He said that people's dreams in these states are limited by "a poverty of aspiration", adding: "Although it's (becoming a civil servant) better than being a goon, even that is a poverty of aspiration. I mean, at the end of it why even— if you must dream, surely you should dream to be Elon Musk or Mukesh Ambani. Why did you dream to be Joint Secretary? You're not dreaming of being Sachin and Binny Bansal of Flipkart. Yeah, so that's the point I'm making."

Sanyal thought that Bihar had the leaders that it elected. "You need to, you know, think about how society thinks about risk-taking and scale, and so on. So I think one of the problems of say, a place like Bihar is not that it had bad leaders. The bad leaders are a reflection of what that society aspires for. So if you're aspiring for this, you will get it," Sanyal said.

He did however state that change is happening across India. "I think thankfully across the country our aspirations are changing. Now, of course, not everywhere. I still think way too many young kids who have so much energy are wasting their time trying to crack the UPSC."

'Youth Wasting Their Best Years'

While calling it a waste of youngster's "best years", Sanyal said India's young could instead put their energy into other endeavours.

"I'm not saying you don't want people to take the exam. Yes, every country needs a bureaucracy, that's perfectly fine. But I think lakhs of people spending their best years trying to crack an exam where a tiny number of a few 1000 people actually want to get in, makes no sense. If they put the same energy into doing something else, we would be winning more Olympic gold medals, we'd be seeing better movies being made, we'd see better doctors, we would see more entrepreneurs, scientists and so on. So I would say that it's (UPSC is) a waste of time," he added.

Sanyal further said he always discourages people from taking up UPSC unless they want to be an administrator.

"Unless they want to be an administrator they shouldn't take the UPSC exam. Because many of them have gone through it, then they get frustrated through the course of their career. In the end, you know, life and bureaucracy are not meant for everybody and large parts of it — as with any profession — are largely dull and boring, and about passing files up and down. And unless you really wanted to do it, you're not going to be particularly happy with it,"

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Published: 26 Mar 2024, 08:02 AM IST
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