The civil services examinations results announced by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) recently saw dozens of young men and women from the northern states script success stories. While the craze for the elite Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS) and other allied services has led to the mushrooming of professional institutes, the state governments and universities in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh have also been running centres to provide coaching to aspirants, especially those from the underprivileged sections, aiming to crack the civil services exam. Barring one successful candidate at the Panjab University coaching institute, these centres have drawn a blank this time. A few have even been nonstarters.
While the common gripe of the institute directors is the weak academic foundation of aspirants, the students have to make do with a guest faculty. The aspirants manage to get through other competitive exams such as banking and postal services but a career in the civil services remains elusive.
Hindustan Times reporters visited the state-funded coaching centres in the region to run a reality check and ascertain the reasons for their belowpar performance.
Not many takers for plush Rohtak centre
A newly-constructed building, air-conditioned classrooms and wellequipped library make the Centre for Competitive Examination (CCE) at Maharshi Dayanand University (MDU) the best-equipped state-run coaching institute in the region.
But all of this has not helped the centre prepare any candidate to clear the civil services exam. Set up by the union human resource development ministry in 1990 to provide free coaching to candidates belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Other Backward Classes for competitive exams, the centre wears a deserted look. That’s because most students are not even aware of the facility and opt for private training institutes.
The seriousness is evident from the manner in which the centre is being run. The staff neither has any record of students taking coaching from the institute nor was it aware if any of its student clearing the civil services exam.
What they say: Centre director Parmod Bhardwaj said, “Students don’t know about this facility and prefer to take coaching from private institutes in Delhi. A batch of 20 is required to start coaching here. We plan to start an awareness campaign from September.” He said the services of university lecturers were taken but most students were interested in clearing the UGC-NET. A student, not willing to be named, said that the centre should impart coaching not only for prelims but also for mains.
Infrastructure and staff: The CCE doesn’t have girls’ hostel. Sans regular faculty, it gets teachers at Rs 300 per lecture.
Fee and funds: Though the UGC gave Rs 1.2 crore to the CCE for five years, most of it remains unspent. The average annual expenditure is only `1 lakh due to lack of students. Coaching is free for SC/ST/OBC students.
Not one IAS selection in decade from Patiala centre
One of the oldest such institutes, the IAS and Allied Services Training Centre in Patiala, set up in 1988 to help rural students prepare for competitive exams, has been nonproductive when it comes to the selection in UPSC exams.
Though none of its students have made it to the IAS in the past 10 years, the training centre claims a high success rate citing that 13 of its students cleared the PCS exam in 2013 and four in 2015.
Students are coached for banking, UGC NET, pre-medical, engineering and law entrance tests.
What they say: Director Harjinder Walia, who also heads Punjabi University’s journalism and mass communication department, said the centre’s aim was not to produce IAS officers alone but to groom students from rural areas.
“Our success rate cannot be determined on the basis of the selection of candidates in IAS or other competitive exams.The objective is to ensure participation of rural students. These students have government school background and for many language is still a barrier,” he said.
Malerkotla resident Gurdeep Singh, who took coaching at the institute and is a law officer with the state prison department, said, “These centres only show the direction. Everything else depends on the dedication and effort of the students.”
Fee and funds: The institute gets financial support from the union social justice and empowerment ministry to help students belonging to the weaker sections.
It gives a stipend of Rs 3,000 per month to such students. However, it now offers coaching to general category students for 20,000 for the five-month course.
Mohali institute faces fund, staff shortage; 1 hit in 21 yrs
At first glance, the Ambedkar Institute of Careers and Courses looks like a place in a shambles. Built in 1994, the campus has not been cleaned for weeks with broken furniture dumped in corners. The academic record of the institute is no better.
Set up to provide free coaching to students from Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and minorities for civil services and other competitive exams, the institute has managed to send only one student to the IAS, three to the Indian Revenue Service and two to allied services in the past 21 years. The institute has, however, been able to produce 13 PCS officers so far.
Admissions were done on first-comefirst-served basis till the institute started conducting an entrance test four years ago.
What they say: Institute principal Rajinder Kaur Minhas said, “The quality of students is not up to the mark. We spend time with them but they are under economic pressure and in a hurry to find any job.” Another trainer said the quality of students seeking admission is to blame for the poor performance. “They are from a poor background. A student preparing for the civil services has to be focused and willing to give time to the preparation,” the trainer added.
Infrastructure and staff: While the institute has one post of principal and three regular lecturers, the actual strength is of two faculty members. One of them has additional charge of principal and warden. There has been no regular principal since 2003. Most of the coaching is done by the guest faculty. The library is in a mess with no seating facility. No new books are available. The institute has a mess but only one cook. There is no security staff for the institute or girls’ hostel.
Fee and funds: The institute, run by the social welfare department of the Punjab government, faces fund shortage. It gets a grant of Rs 1 crore annually but most of the amount is spent on salaries of regular staff and payment to guest lecturers and daily wagers.
Shut for years, HPU centre resumes classes
Set up in 1997 to provide free coaching to meritorious candidates from weaker sections, the Pre-Examination Coaching Centre at Himachal Pradesh University (HPU) has failed to produce even a single civil service officer.
Classes at the centre, which was run at Himachal Pradesh Institute for Public Administration before it was shifted to HPU, had been suspended for several years for want of funds. However, the classes were restarted two months ago.
What they say: Centre head JS Dhiman said, “After years, we invited applications in May for free coaching for the state civil services exam. The month-long training session ended on June 7 for the prelims of the Himachal Administrative Service. We are awaiting the result.”
According to another official, most of the enrolled students at the centre are focused on competitive exams for jobs in banks as those keen on civil services prefer private coaching institutes.
Infrastructure and staff: The HPU coaching centre restarted operations after a new building was built at a cost of `2.5 crore but the hostel is still not functional. The centre does not have a full-time director or permanent faculty.
Fee and funds: The state government also allocated Rs 12 lakh for the current year to provide free coaching to candidates belonging to the SC/OBC category with the annual income below Rs 3 lakh. In case of those from the ST category, the annual income limit is Rs 2.5 lakh. The general category candidates have to shell out Rs 2,000 for the course.
Non-serious aspirants from non-creamy layer in Amritsar
It boasts of an all-India topper in Rukmani Riar, who stood second in the 2012 civil services exam, but the All India Services Pre-Examination Training Centre at Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU) in Amritsar has not been a consistent performer.
The centre set up in 1982 to train underprivileged students has seen a decline since 2006. Of it 100 students in the last batch, not on figured among 1,236 successful civil services candidates. Though 10 cleared the prelims, the lone student who made it to the mains could not make it to the final tally. Last year, the result was no better.
What they say: Training centre director Sudha Jitender, who also heads the Hindi department at GNDU, said: “We have an experienced faculty but our students are from the noncreamy layer. They don’t come from good schools and have a weak foundation. They can’t cope with highly competitive exams such as the IAS.
Instead, they clear exams such as the University Grants Commission’s national eligibility test (UGC-NET) or entrance tests for banks,” she said. B Tech student Anurodh Singh (22), who studied at the centre, admitted to having faced difficulty in coping with the syllabus but credited the centre for helping him clear the bank and post office entrance exams.
Infrastructure and staff: The institute, which admits 100 students each year on merit, has three rooms and uses the lecture hall of the social sciences department for classes. It has university professors and retired lecturers working as trainers.
Fee and funds: `6,000 per course for the civil services exams for general category students; free coaching to those from Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes. GNDU gives Rs 20 lakh a year. The UGC also helps.
We get only beginners, says PU coaching centre
Only one student of Panjab University’s IAS coaching centre cracked the civil services exam this year with a rank around 1,100. The centre’s staff draws comfort from the fact that five of its students made it to the PCS this year.
In 2014, four students cleared the PCS exam, while in 2013 two joined the PCS and one the Haryana Civil Service.
What they say: Ravi K Mahajan, honorary director of the Centre for IAS and Other Competitive Examinations, said, “We give coaching for only four months. No one can clear the IAS exam in four months. It takes a preparation of two-three years. Moreover, we get beginners here,”
“We only show them the right direction. You cannot compare us with private coaching centres. Do they tell you how many students they have coached when they announce the successful names? We can only claim credit for successful candidates who are still in touch with us. Some students take coaching from multiple centres,” the director added.
Infrastructure and staff: The centre has an honorary director who holds an additional charge and so does the coordinator. There is a senior assistant and two peons. The centre draws teachers from different departments and has roped in retired IAS officers as instructors.
Fee and funds: The centre at PU was re-started in 1998. There are 50 seats for coaching for the civil services exam. Admission is through an entrance test as about 300 applications are received. For the four-month course, general category students pay Rs 20,000, while the fee is half for SC/ST students.