The NRI as bureaucrat: coaching schools warm up to idea
New Delhi, Aug 7 (IANS) Hoping to touch a patriotic chord, private coaching academies are increasingly looking at Indians settled abroad and their children and selling them the idea of taking the civil services exam to serve the motherland as a career bureaucrat.
It may be a novel idea for the NRI community - those with Indian citizenship of course - but some institutes are confident that it is one that will hit home.
The New Delhi-based Chanakya IAS Academy, for instance, last month held an interaction session in Dubai for NRI civil services aspirants.
"The concept of preparing their children to serve as Indian bureaucrats excited many NRI parents in the Gulf," said A.K. Mishra, chief of the academy.
"Many NRIs and their children agreed that joining Indian civil services was an ideal way to serve their motherland," Mishra, who is also a motivation and success guru, told IANS.
According to Mishra, civil services exam coaching was a multimillion rupee industry, fuelled by over 500 institutions spread across the country. Metro cities, especially New Delhi and Chennai, have a high density of such specialised service providers.
The fees for coaching ranges from Rs.10,000 to a few lakh rupees, depending upon the duration and features of the capsule on offer.
For civil services coaching academies, attracting the NRIs, a cash-rich segment, makes good business sense.
"Enrolling NRIs means getting cash-rich students for our specialised services. Also, they are not a very price sensitive group," said Deepti Sharma, who manages the IAS Training Academy in Jaipur.
"Traditionally, NRIs have sought professional courses like engineering, medical and MBA in India. The civil services don't really figure high on their agenda," she said.
But it could be changing with coaching institutes turning their gaze on NRIs as a special segment of students.
"Engineering and MBA students have also been on our radar," Sharma told IANS.
The nationality criteria for the Union Public Service Commission-organised exam for the Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service and Indian Police Service lays down "citizen of India" as the basic requirement.
Union Public Service Commission Member K.K. Paul told IANS: "We do not have an exam centre abroad...the basic eligibility is citizen of India."
A subject of Nepal or Bhutan or a Tibetan refugee, who came over to India before Jan 1, 1962, with the intention of permanently settling in India, can also appear in the civil services exam.
A person of Indian origin who has migrated from Pakistan, Burma, Sri Lanka, East African countries of Kenya, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Zaire and Ethiopia and Vietnam with the intention of permanently settling in India, can also appear in the exam with the Indian government's approval.
It's a market waiting to be tapped. Mishra said NRIs need to be made aware of opportunities in civil services as, at present, their interest is mainly in professional courses.
Other coaching institutes are also catching on.
Said Vinay Kumar, who heads a civil services coaching institute in Ranchi: "We do get queries from NRIs' relatives here on civil services exams but we have not really made a conscious pitch to attract students from this category. Now, we plan to do so."
Industry insiders said there is no ready data on the number of NRIs appearing for the test that qualifies a candidate to join the bureaucracy. Of the 243,003 applicants in 2011, 910 were recommended for appointment against 1,001 vacancies.
It's a growing business with students admitting that they need coaching institutes.
"Apart from an individual's own ability, the training imparted by a coaching institute makes a huge difference," said Sneh Dubey, who qualified for the Indian Foreign Service in the just concluded civil services recruitment.
(Rahul Chhabra can be contacted at email@example.com)
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