As of now the upper age limit for UPSC Civil Services Exam is 32 years for General Category. It is 35 for OBC, and 37 years for SC/ST. However, NITI Aayog has recommended that the UPSC upper age limit for the civil services should be brought down to 27 years for the general category in a phased manner by 2022-23.
Now it is up to the Central Government to implement this recommendation or not.
The UPSC Upper Age Limit – Significance
The minimum age to appear for the UPSC Civil Services Exam is 21 years.
However, most aspirants start preparing for this exam in their mid-20’s. Very often, multiple attempts are needed for aspirants to get a top rank. Hence, the average age of selected aspirants in a new batch currently is 27+ years.
Due to several requests from the aspirant community, the Central government (during the UPA rule) increased the upper age limit to appear for UPSC Civil Services Exam (IAS/IPS exam) to 32 years from the 30-year limit which existed before. Also, the government increased the number of attempts from 4 to 6.
On the contrary, NITI Aaayog (and various other civil service reform committees) recommend reducing the upper age limit.
Many general category candidates fear that lowering the upper age limit may practically devoid them of the much sought after government jobs. Reduction in age limit may affect reserved category aspirants as well, even though their upper age limit is much higher.
NITI Aayog: Reduce the UPSC upper age limit to 27 years
NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India) is the premier policy ‘Think Tank’ of the Government of India. It provides both directional and policy inputs.
NITI Aayog in its new report ‘Strategy for New India @ 75’ has suggested many civil service reforms. One of the major recommendations is to bring down the upper age limit for the civil services to 27 years for the general category in a phased manner by 2022-23. (You can read the document here.)
Understandably, if this proposal is implemented, the age limit of other categories too will be affected, accordingly. However, it’s up to the government to decide whether it should implement the NITI Aayog’s recommendations.
Other major civil service reforms recommended by NITI Aayog
- Reduce the number of civil services: The existing 60 plus separate civil services at the central and state level needs to be reduced through rationalization and harmonization of services. Recruits should be placed in a central talent pool, which would then allocate candidates by matching their competencies and the job description of the post. Concomitantly, the number of exams for civil services should ideally be brought down to one with all India ranking. States may also be encouraged to use this pool for recruitments
- Encourage Lateral entry to civil services: Inducting specialists at higher levels of government will provide much-needed expertise.
NDA government has already allowed lateral entry into civil services (well, this obviously allows candidates above 32 years of age, but specialists with work experience).
Will the Government Reduce UPSC Upper Age Limit?
Civil Service reform is not an easy decision for any government.
Not all policies and plans are implemented. Very often many recommendations remain on the file shelf itself.
Various commissions appointed by the government, even before, suggested similar reforms. But they were not implemented.
As 2019 is the election year, it is unlikely that the government take any major unpopular decision this year.
Update (Dec 26, 2018): Jitendra Singh, Minister of State (MoS) in Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and Personnel has clarified that there is no move on the part of the government to alter the age criteria of eligibility to appear in civil service examination, and therefore, all the reports and speculation should be put to rest.
What should IAS/IPS aspirants do now?
Aspirants should understand that this is just a recommendation. The government has not taken any decision on it.
Even the recommendation by NITI Aayog is to implement the change in phases. So there won’t be any immediate overhaul.
It is unlikely that any changes will be made for UPSC Civil Services Exam 2019.
The UPSC CSE 2019 notification will be out by February 19, 2019. UPSC Prelims 2019 is scheduled to be on June 02, 2019.
It’s better not to postpone your UPSC attempts!
Even though the government has clarified that it has no plans to change the age-limit as of now, always be on the safe side. If you are 25 plus, re-consider your decision to postpone your attempts. Better start and finish early!
You still have time to clear UPSC Civil Services Exam with flying colours even if you start preparing now.
Time is precious. Don’t waste it.