MAHARASHTRA: In his childhood, Ramesh Gholap sold bangles to sustain himself and support his poverty-ridden family at Mahagaon village in Barshi Taluka of Solapur district. Years later, in 2012, Gholap became an IAS officer of the Jharkhand cadre. Today he helps youngsters make a career in the civil services.
“In semi-urban Barshi, 500 students have cracked the civil service and other competitive exams in the past 10 years,” said Gholap, adding that students in rural areas need equal opportunities and platforms for their talent.
Gholap is still known as Ramu in his native Mahagoan. His father Gorakh Gholap, who ran a bicycle repair shop, earned just enough to provide for his family of four. His business did not last long as his health suffered due to alcoholism.
“Education opens the only window to a bold, new perspective. In cities, students have various facilities available to them, but in rural areas, youngsters are at a disadvantage even in terms of basic facilities,” said Gholap. “The gap is huge and can only be bridged through good education. Whenever I fly back from Jharkhand to Maharashtra on holidays, I spend half my time interacting with these students on various forums.”
All he wants is that youngsters should not suffer the way he did. “I speak to many students during my tours. There are many myths about success among rural students, particularly those who are backward and poor. They believe one needs to be rich to be successful. I tell them my parents were neither rich nor educated, yet I achieved success in my own way. I was determined to change my future and was ready to work hard. I never chose shortcuts,” said Gholap.
Gholap, whose left leg was affected by polio, recalled that the easiest way to land a job those days was to get a Diploma in Education after Class 12. “I got the job, but was not satisfied. I wanted to do something different and better. I did my graduation through Open University,” he said.
Gholap was never ashamed of doing any work to support his family. “My mother used to sell bangles and I used to accompany her and yell loudly: ‘Bangde ghya bangde (buy bangles!)’,” he recalled.
His mother managed to acquire a two-room tenement allotted through the Indira Awas Yojana, a government scheme.
“Getting the house was a cumbersome experience. My mother ran around from pillar to post to get the documents and submit them. Rather than helping the poor, the system deprived them of their rightful share. I knew that the Tehsildar had the power to allot a house and issue ration cards. That’s why, initially, I wanted to become a Tehsildar in order to become capable of helping poor people. Therefore, I decided to join the civil services,” said Gholap.
His ambition brought him to Pune where, for the first time, he heard about the UPSC exams. However, he never joined any coaching classes. “I took a six-month leave and stayed in Pune, and started studying for the UPSC. The preparations were quite
demanding. I resigned from service and focused on studying for the civil service exam. I cracked the prestigious exams in 2012,” he said.
Gholap believes that if you really want to help people, then you should either be in a top government job or become a politician. “Both of them have immense power to help people. When I look back, I feel happy that my effort to teach students is paying off. If each one contributes positively, then we can make a better society and better country,” he said.