UPSC CSE/IFS DAF – A Frank discussion on how to fill Cadre Preference

Hello friends,

I haven’t written anything in my website for so long.I think my instagram posts compensates that. But ,for some lengthy and common doubts, blogs are the better medium.

Final date to fill UPSC CSE DAF is 5th April 2021 evening 6pm. IFS written results are not yet out. So,lets jump into the discussion.

In this article ,you will get answers for the following question:

1.How to select zones

2.How to select Cadre with in the zones

3.Factors to consider while selecting zones.

Disclaimer: All that I have written in this article are in my personal capacity, highly subjective and varies with person. Take what you want and throw away the rest. I am not ready for any arguments as opinion varies with person to person. Any other perspective, if I am impressed with it, I will add in this article. Do add your comment.

Cadre Preference for CSE and IFS:

Zonal Preference:

Zonal system started in 2017 UPSC exam(From my batch).Before that, All India Service was not truly all India. Southern people chose Southern cadres and Northern People chose Northern ones. There was not much flow and share of knowledge, ideas from South to North and North to South. To break this trend, zonal system has been introduced.

Types of Zones:

So, all the Indian states and UTs have been divided into zones.

Things to consider before selecting Zones:

1.Home cadre:

East or west home is best. During preparation we aim only for the service, leaving all the practical reasons. But once you enter the service, then you will realize the importance of personal life, being with your family, friends etc…(though its not in our hand). I have seen many of my friends who were very idealistic during preparation and put some cadres (not blaming the cadre, read upcoming points to know why am saying this) solely for some ideal reason and regretting their ideal thinking now. So, if you don’t want your home cadre for sure, then you put any other cadre, but don’t hesitate to put home cadre for any idealistic reasons. Eg: I want to serve the country, so I want to serve in the hardest state( Here you have considered only one factor to avoid your home state, but left other factors like being with family, cost of travelling from a distant state to your home state etc…).If you don’t put your own state as first preference then I think you are not allowed for home cadre deputation in future (not sure).

2.Zonal selection:

Consider following points before choosing zones other than your home zone(where your home cadre lies).

A. Distance from your home cadre

If the distance between your home cadre and the zone you select is less, then the cost of travelling will be less and there will be more choice in mode of transportation. If you are from Tamilnadu but chose North east zone in second preference ,then you should be ready to pay more (Cost of flight) and you cant take any other mode of transportation like car, train etc… as it will take days to reach from North to South. But you will get Leave Travel Allowance and Home travel allowance ,once in a year, for you and your dependents to travel to your home state .

B. Geography of the Zone

If you are from Plain region then plain areas will suit more at-least in initial years. If you are from hilly area, then hilly states will suit you more. If you are from cold weather region , then choose accordingly. But believe me, over a period of time your body will adjust to all weathers and geography. But ,if you are taking your parents or elders with you, then choose the zone according to their health condition. Its very difficult for them to adjust to new weather at that age.

C. Language of the Zone

Highly sensitive and debatable. I myself from a Non-Hindi state ,learnt Hindi in few months and living happily in Madhya-Pradesh. So, language is never a barrier. And don’t bring any of your prejudice and illogical bias based on movies you watched, irresponsible journalism and biased news hours. Don’t hate any state without any logic and without even being there once and talking to the people of respective state. So, language is not at all a barrier. Once you clear the exam, you will get language training in academy like LBSNAA,IGNFA and SVPNPA. Nothing to worry about it. But, if you surely wants to stick to your language speaking people ,then go for those zones of your language. Bias exists everywhere and in many forms, language is not an exception. But your talent, will to work and compassion will overcome all the bias. People will understand you over a period of time and they will shower love on you.

D. Food and Local Culture of the Zone

Food!. For many of my friends who are currently posted in various states, the single biggest complaint I am getting is Food. Though while in your government allocated Quarters ,you will get cook etc… they know only local cuisine. You have to cook your own food or train them to do (difficult task). Further, its very difficult to find multi-cuisine restaurants in all districts except capitals and tier 1 cities. So, you have to adjust to all kind of food. Else, better play safely.

Food looks small during preparation , but it matters alot. Think of eating a food that you don’t like for next 30 years of life :). Though amazon and Flipkart are delivering almost all varieties of grains, it will take time to adjust to local cuisine. You will be trained in academy for digesting all varieties of food including stones and bricks but your family members takes more time to adjust as it was not their choice but yours.

Local culture: Pongal in Tamilnadu, Bihu in Assam, Makar Sankranti in Central India. Though names are different but feelings are same. Its very difficult for an Assameese officer to find a person celebrating Bihu in Madhya-Pradesh. You have to celebrate alone or with your neighbhours or batchmates if any posted in your district. You should be open enough to all languages and cultures to be in All India Service, if you find it difficult ,then stay in your cultural zone.

Other than these, some other things like Development of the state, Political stability of the state, Insider vs Outsiders etc… cant be explained here but varies with state and varies with people and very much subjective. But do give a thought about it.

3. State Selection:

When it comes to state,asusual, with in the zones, prefer the states that suits you more according to the above points. Along with it, there some cadres like AGMUT,Assam-Meghalaya are there ,here you have to put some mind work.

AGMUT cadre includes union territories, so, if you belong to states that are closer to some union territory, incase if you couldn’t get home cadre, if you put AGMUT as second preference, then there is a chance of getting that UT based on the vacancy. But in general vacancies for UT are less and there is heavy competition for UTs like Delhi ,Chandigarh. But the issue is ,you may have to move at some point in your career to other UTs (like we have transfer with in a state cadre, transfers in UTs are between AGMUT). So, your transfers will be between states and UTs in AGMUT cadre. So, its up to you to decide. But the best part about UTs are , you will be directly under Central government and all central government perks and allowances will be given to you.

AGMUT and Assam-Meghalaya cadre people will get to know which state they are going only after academy training. So, even though you get your cadre at the time of announcement, you will get to know your state only at the time of joining incase of AGMUT and A-M cadres.

North-East cadre officers will get 25% extra income as a part of motivating many to choose North east and promote Nation Development. Assam people gets 10% extra income .So, worth the wait!.

Work culture of the state varies with State. Some states are highly tech-savvy, some are still passing red files, so ,we cant talk about individual states here and if you want ,you have to call individual officers who have already spent at least 2 to 3years in cadre and decide based on it. Kindly don’t put solely based on Suggestion from Coaching academies and Faculties. Have conversation with people who have cleared and serving in cadres and then decide after a brainstorm. Because, the cadre going to be your home for next 30 years. Don’t take it lightly.

Urban vs Rural State: Some states are largely urban like Tamilnadu ,Gujarat. Some states are largely rural like Madhya Pradesh and Odisha. You have to decide what kind of lifestyle you want. In Urban states you get all facilities in almost all districts, but in Rural states only few cities or capital cities are developed. But development in Rural states are need of the hour, we need you more there. But your liking matters!.

Bureaucracy Setup: In some states bureaucracy is still revered and gets more respect which is actually the remains of Colonialism. But in some states ,bureaucrats are not given any special treatment and are treated as just another job. So, its up to you to choose. Generally rural states have this reverence and urban states are not. But in future, all states going to develop and this worshipping culture will slowly fade away.

Big state Vs Small state: A large state means , you have to travel one day even to come out of your own state by road. Big states have big districts, so you will be given in charge of huge area in that case. But ,transfers may take you to North to South and East to West. Small state means, you will be having small districts, at any point of time you can reach a city soon. But ,small state means ,you are more accountable as few districts means Political masters can question your actions easily as you are more visible there.

Career Growth: Certain states have very good system. Timely promotion and post to DM,SP,DFO etc…all depends on that. In certain state, system is not that great ,thus takes more time comparatively for getting posts. You have to talk to individual state officers to get these details.

Some Specific Things to NOte for IFS

(Indian Forest Service)

All the above holds good for IFS too.But following things must be considered too…

IFS -Forest – So , After home cadre(of course, even with Zero forest ,home cadre is home cadre!) , you should check the forest cover % too to select the preference. More the forest cover, then more the area under the control of forest department of the state ,more budget ,more works ,more people dependent on forest and more people oriented schemes too. Check for Number of National Parks and Tiger Reserves in that state too , that will show how much the respective state is giving importance to wildlife and also the presence of biodiversity.

But wait , you have to check % of People dependent on Forest too…

More people dependent on Forest means more budget to Forest department and more diverse work as many schemes like Van dhan kendra will be routed through Forest department and you will get more diverse kind of experience and opportunities. So, think in this line also.

Next, Geography and Biodiversity:

Coastal state means you will get opportunity to work on coastal ecosystem too. More biodiverse state means ,more adventures waiting for you. Like ,my friend Sandeep is doing everything like Scuba diving in Andaman as part of his work. DFOs of Lakshadweep holds many departments like shipping, trade etc.. as very few officers stay there and thus having variety of experience.

Next, Importance to Forest department:

Few states not giving much important to Forest department as they have very less forest cover or they might be in developing stage and want to spend more money on development. So,check for works of forest department in various states and decide.

This doesn’t mean in states like Punjab, Haryana ,IFS officers are sitting idle. They are fighting encroachers, involved in smart city mission ,going to other departments like health, education etc…thus opportunity is always there. Even in States with high forest cover, I have seen many IFS officers entering other departments like IT, Agriculture, Industry etc…So, if you are interested and if you are competent, there is no restriction.

I think I have done justice to the article by including almost all. I have given more emphasis on personal life in cadre selection because you all wont see it coming while preparing, once you clear ,then you will realize the importance of personal life. So, give equal weightage to your own likings and personal life while deciding the cadre.

All the best!

4 Responses to “UPSC CSE/IFS DAF – A Frank discussion on how to fill Cadre Preference”
  1. Haleema Sadiya says:

    It’s very helpful. Thanks for covering this.

  2. Sutapa Barick says:

    Thank you sir for discussing elaborately one crade preferences.. Sir could you please give us some ideas if someone wants to work for forest department except from entering through upsc..

  3. Mohd Farid says:

    Thank you so much sir for writing this article. please sir write some articles for beginners like strategy, how many hours need to study for ifos exam an average student and some other basic things ……

  4. shreeyank says:

    sir how is karnataka cadre

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