Aspirants preparing for the Union Public Service Commission’s (UPSC) Civil Service Examination (CSE) spend close to one year doing just that. Once they clear the exam they spend time at Lal Bahadur Shastri National Administrative Academy (LBSNAA), Mussoorie, where they undergo training, also referred to as the Foundation Course (FC).
But what happens at this foundation course at LBSNAA? From the physical training (PT) sessions to the compulsory language course — three civil servants from different batches help us understand all this and more.
“One very interesting thing about LBSNAA is that you never get tired of the place even though it is situated in the mountains and needs daily mini treks from the hostel to classes,” writes Naveen Kumar Chandra, a civil servant from the 2017 batch.
Answering a question on Quora, Naveen says that an interesting fact about LBSNAA is that it is home to civil servants from Bhutan as well.
Officers from Maldives and Myanmar also visit LBSNAA for various training programs.
Manjul Jindal, an officer from the 2017 batch writes about life at LBSNAA in his Quora post. He says a day in the life of an officer trainee (OT) begins on the polo grounds, which in itself is a 2 km walk from the hostel. The training session is followed by a good scrumptious breakfast at the officer’s mess. This is also a good time for OTs to catch up with each other.
The structured class schedule begins at 9.30 am and gets done by 4.00 pm. He writes, “Professors from Indian Institute of Management’s (IIM), Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi University (DU), etc. come to deliver subject-specific matters such as social marketing, environmental economics, etc. Officers of various services are invited to deliver lectures on their experiences tied with some things we need to know.”
What is interesting is the exposure that OTs get to various other sports and hobby building exercises.
From trekking, hiking, running to village visits – there are various activities that one can participate in. At the academy, OTs also have a chance to display their talents at various events like India Day. During these events, OTs practise dance, music and theatre performances.
Bhavesh Mishra, a 2015 batch officer shares how the foundation course is designed in such a way that it breaks the shackles of belonging to a particular service, region or cadre. It promotes intermingling between the OTs at every stage. “No two roommates can belong to the same service. A North Indian OT is paired with a South Indian OT,” he writes.
The ice-breaking sessions and the seating pattern in the lecture hall are also designed in such a way that each OT gets to know others. There is a lot of emphasis on group work as well. He further writes, “After three months of training, it’s usually the case that our best friends mostly belong to other services. And the final day of the foundation course is heart-wrenching. Everyone gets emotional.”
Many officers also recollect the time spent at Ganga Dhaba, a 90-year-old dhaba that has fed many OTs over the years in Mussoorie.
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)