The Forest Services offer one of the most prestigious bureaucratic positions in India, among All India Services. Apart from the lucrative pay scale, IFS officers get the opportunity to experience wildlife, which is something that has inspired many to opt for this career option. Becoming an IFS officer demands no less efforts than to pass the Civil Services exam. Candidates are also required to be physically fit as per prescribed standards of UPSC, the conducting body.
To apply, candidates must have completed graduation in subjects that have direct relevance to skills and knowledge expected from an officer of the forest service. In addition, one must follow the age limit of UPSC IFS recruitment.
Those aspiring to become an IFS officer, after ensuring their compliance with the minimum eligibility conditions, must proceed to fill up the online application form available at the UPSC website. The application process begins at the UPSC website every year, in February/March and the preliminary exam takes place in May. This year, however, the exam has been postponed due to COVID-19. The applicants of the IFS exam are then issued admit card for IFS preliminary exam.
This is the same test that is held for the screening of candidates for the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) selection. The prelims constitute a decisive stage to determine whether one can proceed to the next stage of selection. Extensive preparations are required to clear even the prelims that consist of objective type questions.
Candidates are then shortlisted for the next round of IFS selection, on the basis of IFS prelims result. New admit cards are issued to these qualifiers to appear in the IFS main exam. This is where the real test of mettle begins. The main exam is purely narrative and candidates have to describe their views in a conventional pen-and-paper exam. One may assume that the main exam certainly does not contain simple descriptive questions. Instead, candidates are tested for the presence of mind, ability to think and link concepts and exhibit significant analytical abilities.
We have now explained the initial two stages of the exam held for the selection of the candidates. Now let us move on to the final stage of the selection process. This is the interview stage in which only those who qualify the Main exam become eligible to appear. Unlike the first two stages, where candidates can rely on preparation tactics such as referring to previous years’ question papers, cracking the interview demands a different preparation. Besides the verification of the claims of experience and eligibility made by a candidate, this is the stage at which the UPSC personally interacts with qualifiers to select only a handful to fill the vacancies.
Now that we have described the entire process of selection for appointment as an IFS officer, some crucial points must be remembered to fulfill one’s goals of becoming an officer. Among the foremost is that there is no shortcut. One must thrive to study hard and cover the syllabus to qualify the prelims.
Secondly, being one of the All India Services, candidates must be prepared to assume different responsibilities that include decision-making in the context of conservation of the country’s forest resources. The majority of the top bureaucrats in the state-level forest offices are qualified IFS officers. Third, an inherent attachment with nature and especially outdoors is indispensable to assume the role of an IFS officer that involves conservation of the vegetative resources and the diverse ecosystem they support.
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