Only Goal in Sight, Gritty Aspirants Juggle Family, Job to Hit Books Hard
CHENNAI: It is a lone battle that every aspirant wages. Holed up in their rooms, often away from home, family and friends, dedicating the larger part of the day for studies: this is a solitary walk with nothing but a dream to guide.
It was particularly hard for Pradeep Kumar, a sales engineer with the Indian Oil Corporation, who had to strike a balance between performing well at his high-pressure job, taking care of his pregnant wife, playing a doting father to his newborn son and the gruelling preparations for what arguably is one of the toughest competitive exams. But he managed to juggle that, and with remarkable success. He came 375th, without going to coaching classes.
“Nobody takes risks after marriage, especially with a baby on the way. But my wife motivated, supported and even pushed me to achieve what I worked so hard for,” he says.
For those from outside Chennai, including the thousands that land in the coaching hub from the rural parts of Tamil Nadu, such a support system is not readily available. They stay in hostels and paying guest accommodations, or sometimes bunk with fellow candidates to help each other in preparations.
Originally from the western district of Coimbatore, Divya Ruth’s dream to enter the hallowed halls of Indian administration has taken her to unfamiliar Delhi and back to the south, to Chennai, in two years.
She and her room mate have kept each other on track in the journey the past one year, and this seems to have helped: both secured ranks high enough to guarantee a them a Civil Service job.
Or take for example the case of M C Sathish Kumar, a civil engineer in Steel Authority of India. He has attended the test five times, cleared prelims in the third attempt, cleared main in the fourth, and this time, he cleared the last obstacle, the interview, to notch up the 860th rank. In these years, Sathish lived alone in places where his job took him, shunned all recreation, and with the help of study materials, most importantly Guru Google, the 27 year-old spent the past four years of his life on the single-minded pursuit of cracking the UPSC code.
Many of these serious aspirants clear the tests securing middle and bottom ranks, but are often never satisfied with their performance. For, it is the Indian Administrative Service they covet and others like Revenue, Forest and so on do not satisfy them. Failure is not a defeat and success is not satisfaction for these future civil servants. Only a rank ensuring an IAS berth would end this quest. When he took his first shot, Dr A Pradeep, an MBBS graduate, secured the 950th rank. The past year has been a routine that featured his home, a lot of study materials and a coaching institute. And the next year promises to be just the same. Hailing from Coimbatore, this 24-year-old chose to live with his mother in the city and dedicate 10 hours each day for study, apart from attending classes at a coaching institute.
What prompts these young ones to strive so hard, ignoring families and even existing well-paying careers? Becoming an IAS officer is an opportunity for social service at a bigger platform for most of the aspirants. “Working in a PSU (public sector undertaking), I can perhaps help 10 people. But in the administrative services, service to the society is your career. My scope of helping people expands to a village, a town or a city and that inspires me,” explains Sathish, who is preparing to better his results this time.
Like him, Divya Ruth is assured of an IRS ticket with her rank of 701. But the goal has not been attained.
A government job in the Agriculture sector has exposed her to the gaps in the implementation of several schemes. “Eliminating corruption and implementing the several schemes in the agriculture sector properly is my dream,” she says.
As Dr Pradeep puts it: treating the causes of disease is more important than treating a disease itself.