Under the Silver Lining of BCS


Ebana Haque


I still remember the twinkle in my dad’s eyes, like two honey glazed donuts, when he asked me my idea regarding how I’d like to prepare and sit for the BCS exams. I was dumbfounded at the lack of his notion about my future plans. I lacked proper knowledge on why it brought such great hopes and excitement in the pitch of his voice. After I had declined his unsolicited suggestion, I was intrigued and had to look up at what the hype was about. However, like any other story, this had its own drawbacks too. It was heartbreaking to know that those drawbacks lied in no place else, but in the guarded minds of the population — the nation and us.

Bangladesh Civil Service, also well renowned by the acronym BCS, is a qualification that an individual acquires when they want to serve in governmental sectors or are looking for jobs in the said area. Although it brings light into the probable dark minds of some, BCS has become quite notorious as it gives way to anticipated awry and stress. The exam consists of three consecutive, but highly competitive stages and takes place nationwide. It takes about 2 years for the lucky individual to complete the whole, excruciating chain of 3 exams. However, one can only apply for this exam after they have completed their under-graduation.

Even though the examination itself has a shiny exterior, there happens to be a lot of negativity circulating, regarding how much of hope and future it withholds for an individual’s life. On an average, about 2,25,000 candidates apply every year for this examination. Out of which, most of the time 90% show up. After the prolonged 3 sequential tests, the final success rate stands at about 0.02% for all the candidates and at a 0.005% for the general cadres. Besides this, the country’s quota system on the BCS exam has been highly controversial for the past 6-7 years. This heavily puts up a setback in one’s life. After a thorough study process of 2 years, if a candidate unfortunately fails, what would they lose? Well, the answer to that is simple — valuable time, hope for the future, and a demolished plan of their career. It doesn’t only put a stop to one’s well-built goals but also frustrates their mental peace, confidence, and principles of life.

Most candidates face mid-life crisis at the age of 21-30 years. Well, now that the level of competitive scenario has been explained, it is well understood why in today’s culture, BCS is put up in the highest of clouds. However, when one does not reach that significant level, the fall is bound to be drastic. Is this why now potential marriage proposals, especially from men, are only deemed worthy if they are within that percentage, and other job-holders in another field of interest somewhat belittled? 

This also leads the individuals to drench themselves in self-loathing due to the feeling of unacceptance in the over-glorified BCS society. Whereas in 2 years, a CA graduate could start up his own firm, a BCS candidate could either power through their way and ace the exams, or fail dramatically. It is upon us to choose which is better and serves a higher percentage of optimised opportunity for us. Whichever we choose, it is never in one’s good notion to demoralise either of the choices.

To convert a BCS dream into reality, it takes up a chunk of elements. In the socio-economic context, a job in the public sector is always labelled prestigious and of pride. The preparation period alone may take more than 2 years for some. The candidates mostly remain unemployed during this period because of the books, the piles of prep-guides, and the system that pins them down. What is the moral reason for such a fall out? Is it because of the intensity of jitters that the preparation stage of BCS delivers? Or is it a nerve-wracking competition served in the minds of candidates?

A successful BCS candidate does not presume his qualifications to turn his life into a fairy tale, nor does he do so to be socially accepted. Why does not succeeding in the BCS exam put the individual, their parents, nosy relatives, agitated fiancé, and mocking friends through such an existential crisis?

A current candidate of the BCS examinations, Natasha Karim, poured in some insights and scoops on the suffering, motivation, and structure that any BCS candidate would face during the process or afterwards.

“BCS solely provides a form of job security, power, and pride. It gives an individual the access and ability to contribute to the community and country all in one go; hence the craze of such power blinds the general population. However, BCS demands long term commitment even after passing the preliminary and other exams. On average, it could take about 2-3 years to finally ace a job and thus, when one fails after such a prolonged period of commitment, they are bound to face clinical depression and feel that they have lost time, money, and their future.”

When further asked about how the older portion of the entire pie-chart feels about BCS and why they feel that way, she explained, “When it comes to prospects of marriage, parents always want their offspring to be settled and have social security. That alone is the reason why marrying a BCS cadre is the cherry on top for many. In this country and culture, professions that aren’t in the circumference of doctors, engineers, or lawyers are deemed less worthy, which eventually gives way less opportunity to those wanting to work in other creative or non-creative fields  and thus, making it harder to start over again when one fails.”

When asked about any suggestions that she would like to bestow upon the future and current candidates, Natasha advised, “Potential candidates must never fear what it withholds. If they plan on obtaining this qualification, they must stand their ground, not get distracted, and set a definite goal.”

In this society, it’s been falsely labelled that dignity, pride, honour, and prestige lie within the acceptance and qualification of BCS. But if it was every other individuals’ ability to build through all the mathematical, science, international affairs, and mental ability exams, we all would be living the notorious, non-existent fairy tale. How many of us would be happy to accept a degree to only define us? Isn’t that alone enough to have an identity crisis? 

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