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Which medium should I use for writing and interview?

Officially, you can write your Mains papers (except the language and Optional literature papers,  which you have to write in the respective media) in any of the eighteen official languages: Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telegu or Urdu, and, of course, English. But you can be sure that the UPSC officials would be in a tight corner if all and sundry were to use all these languages- they would simply not find examiners who could check the answer scripts in so many native languages. Unless it is a literature paper, it is always safe to write either in English, or Hindi. Same with the interview. You will be interviewed by a board of eminent people - about half a dozen in number - and you can be sure they do not know all of the above languages. You could be lucky if one of them knows your vernacular, but the rest would not be able to communicate with you- the basic purpose of the interview. The more difficulty you have in communicating with those who would be checking your merit, the greater disadvantage you would be at- you have to decide if you want to jeopardize your employment opportunity in favour of linguistic chauvinism.

Relevant is another consideration. A civil servant is one who serves the society; he is expected to have extensive interaction with the people. Since you could be posted anywhere in India, or even outside, the knowledge of your native language (unless you are posted in your native state, which is rather unlikely) would be superfluous, and would not help you in a professional capacity. English, Hindi, and the vernacular of the state you are posted in, would be your lingua franca. It is incumbent upon UPSC, therefore, to ensure that you have sufficient communicating prowess. Vernaculars as a medium is, thus, not recommended.

If you aspire to be IAS, make sure your linguistic skills in English, and even Hindi, are profound. Certainly this does not mean that you have to be a grammar expert, a novelist or a lecturer; but this certainly means that you should have the capacity to make yourself understood to your audience in a language which he knows.

These comments are, of course, personal.

Written: 5th of December, 2003.



IAS 2007 - Mains Final Results


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Frequently Asked Questions - FAQ
Various Civil Services in India
Examination Schedule
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Subjects Available
Scheme of Exam
Sequence of Mains Papers
Constitution and Civil Services


Mistakes I Made
Prelims - Choice of Subjects
Newspapers and Mags - Should I read?
Language - Mains and Interview
Which books to read?


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Limited Usefulness of Coaching Institutes
Nation Civil Service - A Critical Review
Good Governance - A Distant Dream
IAS as Career Option for IITians
What Ails Civil Services?


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