India’s premier civil services exam, the UPSC Civil Services Exam, is a rigorous test that annually selects officers for various governmental posts within India. Notably among these are IAS Officers(administrative cadre), IFS officers (foreign cadre), and IPS officers. 

However, a recent inquiry by an ad hoc parliamentary committee has suggested that this recruitment cycle – which can take upwards of 15 months from application to completion – be minimized to address the impact it has on candidates’ physical and mental well-being as well as their vital prime years being wasted in travel time between examinations sites across India; additionally regarding lackluster turnout rates at 51% with only 16.82 Lakh of 32 Lakh applying during 2022-23:

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice has recommended that recruitment exams not exceed six months and for the formation of an expert committee to evaluate the current recruitment system. They also advised the UPSC to gather feedback from candidates and improve the examination system.

The Parliamentary Panel has expressed concern over the long duration of the civil services recruitment cycle in India. While it is true that the recruitment process for civil services is indeed lengthy, there are other government exams such as AFCAT, CDS, and NDA (defence exams) which have shorter recruitment cycles. Today in this article, we will compare and contrast the recruitment process of these exams to that of the UPSC civil services exam.

Comparing the Recruitment Cycles of UPSC and Other Competitive Exams

Let us first consider the AFCAT exam. The Air Force Common Admission Test is conducted twice a year, in February and August. Candidates are required to apply as per the advertisement which is released in June and December. This means that the entire recruitment cycle lasts only a few months. 

In 2022, about two lakh students appeared for the AFCAT exam, out of which only ten thousand got called for AFSB procedures. This indicates that the selection process is highly competitive, and only a small percentage of candidates make it through. 

Next, let us look at the CDS exam. The Combined Defence Services exam is conducted twice a year by the UPSC. More than two lakh candidates apply for the exam every year, and in 2022, only 6,658 candidates cleared the written exam. This shows that the CDS exam is also highly competitive.

Finally, let us examine the NDA exam. The National Defence Academy exam is conducted twice a year, and in 2022, more than three lakh aspirants appeared for the examination. Around 8,509 candidates cleared the NDA (II) 2022 written exam and faced the NDA (II)  2022 SSB interviews for their respective services. 

Like the other exams we have discussed, the NDA exam is highly competitive, and only a small percentage of candidates are selected. Nonetheless, brief and less time consuming is a brief process. Those who successfully pass the SSB interview can subsequently attend Indian military recruitment events and be accepted into the Indian Army, Navy, and Air Force within one year of finishing their eligibility requirements.

When compared to the UPSC civil services exam, the AFCAT, CDS, and NDA exams have much shorter recruitment cycles but it does not mean that their selection process is hasty, rather it selects the best-talented youth who serve the country by defending its frontiers.

According to Mr. Naveen Pruthi from Geniehelpme, who has been mentoring civil services aspirants for more than 20 years, a short recruitment cycle may prove to be a boon for budding officers. If tests are designed in such a manner that all the prerequisites needed to administer the country in the future are properly evaluated within a period of 7 to 8 months. 

Naveen feels that UPSC should design the whole curriculum in such a manner that no required aspect of personality is left untested within the recruitment cycle of around 6 months.

He firmly believes that someone who reaches the interview stage of the civil services exam and is finally not selected should have other options left with him in the form of preparing for other exams. and this is possible if the recruitment cycle is not too lengthy so as to engross him/her completely in this exam.


In conclusion, while the Parliamentary Panel is right in expressing concern over the long duration of the civil services recruitment cycle, it is important to note that there are other government exams that have shorter recruitment cycles. However, the civil services exam is broader in scope and tests candidates in a wide range of subjects. Ultimately, it is up to the individual to decide which exam is best suited for them based on their interests and career aspirations.