|Posted by Praveen on May 5, 2013 at 1:10 AM||comments (0)|
If you don't succeed the first time, try, try and try again !
K Jayaganesh's story is similar. He failed the civil service examination six times but never lost heart. The seventh time -- his last chance -- he passed with a rank of 156 and has been selected for the Indian Administrative Service.
Jayaganesh's story is inspiring not because he did not lose heart but also because he comes from a very poor background in a village in Tamil Nadu, and though he studied to be an engineer, he worked at odd jobs, even as a waiter for a short while, to realise his dream of becoming an IAS officer.
Childhood in a remote village
I was born and brought up in a small village called Vinavamangalam in Vellore district. My father Krishnan, who had studied up to the tenth standard, worked as a supervisor in a leather factory. My mother was a housewife. I am the eldest in the family and have two sisters and a brother. I studied up to the 8th standard in the village school and completed my schooling in a nearby town.
I was quite good at studies and always stood first. Coming from a poor family, I had only one ambition in life -- to get a job as fast as I could and help my father in running the family. My father got Rs 4,500 as salary and he had to take care of the education of four children and run the family, which you know is very difficult.
So, after my 10th standard, I joined a polytechnic college because I was told I would get a job the moment I passed out from there. When I passed out with 91 per cent, there was a chance for me to get entry to a government engineering college on merit. So I decided to join the Thanthai Periyar Government Engineering College to study mechanical engineering. My father supported my desire to study further.
Even while doing engineering, my ambition was still to get a job. If you look at my background, you will understand why I didn't have any big ambitions. Most of my friends in the village had studied only up to the 10th standard, and many did not even complete school. They worked as auto drivers or coolies or masons. I was the only one among my friends who went to college.
I understood the importance of education because of my parents. My father was the only one in his family to have completed school, so he knew the value of education. My parents saw to it that we children studied well.
In search of a job
Four days after I completed my engineering in 2000, I went to Bangalore in search of a job and I one without much difficulty. My salary was Rs 2,500 at a company that reconditioned tools.
It was in Bangalore that I started thinking about my village and my friends. I wondered sadly why none of them studied and worked in good companies. Because they had no education, they always remained poor. There was not enough money to buy even proper food. There was no opportunity there; the only place they could work was the tannery in the nearby town. If they didn't get work at the tannery, they worked as auto drivers or coolies. In short, there was no one in my village to guide the young generation.
I thought would I be able to help my villagers in any way?
Getting interested in the civil service examination
Till then, I had not even heard of something called the civil services examination. It was only after I went to Bangalore and saw the world that I was exposed to many things. I came to know that a collector in a small place could do a lot. At that moment, I decided that I wanted to be an IAS officer.
I resigned and went home to prepare for the examination. I never thought resigning was risky because I had the confidence and knew I would do well.
My father also supported me wholeheartedly. He had just got a bonus of Rs 6,500 and he gave me that money to buy study material. I sat in my village and studied from the notes I received by post from Chennai.
In my first two attempts, I could not even clear the preliminary examination. I had no idea how to prepare for the exam, what subjects to opt for and how to study. There was nobody to guide me.
I had taken mechanical engineering as my main subject. That's when I met Uma Surya in Vellore. He was also preparing for the examination. He told me that if I took sociology as an option, it would be easy.
Even with sociology as the main subject, I failed in the third attempt. But I was not disappointed. I knew why I was failing. I didn't have proper guidance. I started reading newspapers only after I started preparing for the examination! So you can imagine from what kind of background I came from.
To Chennai for coaching
When I came to know about the government coaching centre (external link) in Chennai, I wrote the entrance examination and was selected. We were given accommodation and training.
Because I got tips from those who passed out, I passed the preliminary in my fourth attempt. We were given free accommodation and food only till we wrote the main examination. After that, we had to move out. I didn't want to go back to the village but staying in Chennai also was expensive.
I tried to get a job as an engineer but my efforts turned futile. I then decided to look for a part time job so that I would have time to study.
Working as a waiter in Chennai
I got a job as a billing clerk for computer billing in the canteen at Sathyam Cinemas. I also worked as the server during the interval. It never bothered me that I, a mechanical engineer, preparing for the civil services, had to work as a server. I had only one aim -- to stay on in Chennai to pass the examination.
Attending the interview in Delhi
After I got the job at the Sathyam Cinemas, I was called for the interview. As counselling was my hobby, a lot of questions were asked about counselling. I was not very fluent in English but I managed to convey whatever I wanted to. Perhaps I did not articulate well. I failed in the interview.
Preliminary again, the 5th time
Once again, I started from the beginning. Surprisingly, I failed in the preliminary itself. On analysis, I felt I did not concentrate on studies as I was working at Sathyam Cinemas.
I quit the job and joined a private firm to teach sociology to those preparing for the UPSC examinations. While I learnt the other subjects there, I taught sociology. Many friends of mine in Chennai helped me both financially and otherwise while I prepared for the examination.
I passed both the preliminary and the main in the sixth attempt but failed at the interview stage.
While preparing for the interview, I had written an examination to be an officer with the Intelligence Bureau and I was selected. I was in a dilemma whether to accept the job. I felt if I joined the IB, once again, my preparation to be an IAS officer would get affected. So, I decided not to join and started preparing for one last time.
I had to give the last preliminary just a few days after the previous interview. I was confused and scared. Finally, I decided to take the last chance and write the examination. Like I had hoped, I passed both the preliminary and the main.
The interview was in April, 2008 at Delhi. I was asked about Tamil Nadu, Kamaraj, Periyar, Tamil as a classical language, the link between politics and Tamil cinema etc. I was upset since I did not wish the interviewers at the start and they did not respond when I said thanks at the end. Both the incidents went on playing in my mind. I just prayed to God and walked back.
The day the results were out
I was extremely tense that day. I would know whether my dreams would be realised or not. I used to tell God, please let me pass if you feel I am worthy of it.
I went to a playground and sat there meditating for a while. Then, I started thinking what I should do if I passed and what I should do if I didn't.
I had only one dream for the last seven years and that was to be an IAS officer.
Finally when the results came, I couldn't believe myself. I had secured the 156th rank out of more than 700 selected candidates. It's a top rank and I am sure to get into the IAS.
I felt like I had a won a war that had been going on for many years. I felt free and relieved.
The first thing I did was call my friends in Chennai and then my parents to convey the good news.
Warm welcome in the village
The reception I got in my village was unbelievable. All my friends, and the entire village, were waiting for me when I alighted from the bus. They garlanded me, burst crackers, played music and took me around the village on their shoulders. The entire village came to my house to wish me. That was when I saw unity among my villagers. It was a defining moment for me.
What I want to do
I worked really hard without losing faith in myself to realise my dream. My real work starts now. I want to try hard to eradicate poverty and spread the message of education to all people. Education is the best tool to eradicate poverty.
|Posted by Praveen on May 5, 2013 at 1:10 AM||comments (0)|
The 2006 competitive examinations for India’s civil services is notable for the number of young people from non privileged backgrounds who feature in the merit list. For the first time, none from India’s elite metros feature in the top ten.
We will bring you some amazing success stories in this special series. Today, meet a rickshaw vendor’s son from Varanasi who is one of the IAS toppers this year.
Tears ran down Govind Jaiswal’s face and refused to stop. Staring him in the face was the only thing he had ever wanted, and now that he had achieved it, he couldn’t even reach out for the keys on his cellphone.
He waited till the tears dried up, till the news sunk in and made that one phone call on which depended the hopes of his entire family.
Govind, 24, the son of an uneducated rickshaw vendor in Varanasi, had grown up with cruel taunts like ‘However much you study, you will still be a rickshawpuller.’ He had studied with cotton stuffed in his ears to drown the noise of printing machines and generators below his window in a poor neighbourhood where small workshops existed cheek by jowl with tiny residential quarters.
He had given Math tuitions to supplement the paltry sum his father could afford to send him each month. His ailing father had sold a small plot of land to give Govind about Rs 40,000 so that he could move to Delhi which would provide him a better place to study.
Throughout his life, he had lived with only one dream — to become an officer of the Indian Administrative Service. For him that was the only way. And when he broke the news to his family, that he was ranked 48 among 474 successful candidates in his first attempt at the exam — it was the turn of his three sisters and father to weep with unbridled joy.
‘Besides the Civil Services, I had no option’
Icould not afford to have any other career goal. My life would have been absolutely futile had I not made it into the civil services,” says Govind, just back from his medicals in New Delhi, mandatory for the IAS.
“You must understand that my circumstances were such that besides the Civil Services, I had no option. I didn’t have much of a chance with lower government jobs because they are mostly fixed, neither could I start a business because I had no money. The only thing I could do was work hard at my studies.”
It was almost impossible for him to study in the one room he shared with his family. To add to his woes was the power cut that extended between 10 and 14 hours every day. The moment the lights went out, he had to shut the window to block out the deafening noise of generators in the many workshops around his home.
So in search for a quiet place to study, he briefly shared a friend’s room at the Banaras Hindu University. Since that did not help him much, he did what many civil services aspirants in northern India do — he moved to New Delhi.
His father sold his last plot of land for his son’s dream
F or his son to make a fresh start in a city Govind had never visited before, Narayan Jaiswal, Govind’s father, sold the only remaining plot of land he had saved after getting his three daughters married.
Working for ten years at the government ration shop, Narayan earned a living by weighing goods at the store. One day when the shop shut down, he bought one rickshaw and hired it out. He added three more and at one time was prosperous enough to own about 36 rickshaws.
That was a period of financial security and Narayan was prudent enough to buy three small plots of land. With three daughters to marry off, he knew he would need it in times to come. But bad times soon befell the family. His wife passed away when Govind was in school. For 10 years there was acute hardship. The rickshaws dwindled.
On his meager earnings, the uneducated rickshaw vendor with a hearing disability continued the education of his children. The girls were married after their graduation — Narayan sold two pieces of land for the weddings, the last plot was sold to achieve his Govinda’s dream.
Narayan gave his son Rs 40,000 to prepare for his Civil Services exam in New Delhi and pursue his childhood dream of becoming an IAS officer. For the next three years, he sent his son between Rs 2,500 and Rs 3,000 every month, sometimes foregoing the expense of treating the septic wound in his foot that continues to nag him till today.
Courier boys found his house with difficulty; now the fruitwallah will tell you where the ‘IAS’ house is’
Outside his narrow lane, opposite the Varanasi City railway station, where Narayan Jaiswal parks his rickshaws and spends most of his waking hours, he still walks barefooted with a bandage, one end hanging loose and scraping the dirty road.
“Beyond this year, my father could not have afforded to send Govind any more money. It was getting very tough for him. Govind was earning Rs 1,500 from tuitions, I don’t know what he would have done if he didn’t make it to the IAS this year. My father could not sleep for 10 days before the results came,” says Govind’s eldest sister Nirmala, whose son is almost the same age as her brother.
Now that he will earn Rs 8,000 as his starting salary during his two-year training period in Mussoorie, Govind says his first priority is getting good treatment for his father’s wound.
“I want to look after him, I don’t know if he will leave Varanasi but I will definitely move him out of this rented room that we have lived for 35 years.”
If his son’s new job dramatically changes things for the better, Narayan Jaiswal is quite unaffected by it. He is surprised by the scores of journalists and well wishers flocking to his house.
Until now, courier delivery boys found his house with great difficulty but now even the fruit cart-wallah, one-and-a-half kilometres away, will tell you where the ‘IAS’ house is.
“I like my work. I haven’t decided about the future — what could be a better place than Kashi? As long as my son looks after me, what else can one want?” he says, visibly uncomfortable with the media spotlight.
‘My character will be put to the test, then I want to see what a real man I am’
Having lived his life in Varanasi, the holy city on the banks of the Ganga, Govind has given his home state Uttar Pradesh as his preferred region of posting. If he doesn’t get UP, he is open to being sent to any state in India.
“Varanasi needs a tight administration. As for me, I want to be a good officer. We are the agents of change and I as an administrator would like to inform common people about their right to know, their right to information. The benefit should finally go to the people.”
His hero is President A P J Abdul Kalam. Govind is reading the Hindi translation of the President’s best-selling book On Wings of Fire and takes out a nicely thumbed copy from a plastic bag.
“After Gandhiji, President Kalam has given us a dream and the power to dream. His dream is of a developed India and he is a symbol of many common people’s dreams.”
In a time when the Indian bureaucracy has its drawbacks like a lack of accountability, corruption and perpetuating a system that was handed down by the British to rule a subordinate population Govind’s thoughts are fired by the idealism of youth. He insists his idealism will not be watered down in future years, that he will not allow himself to be influenced.
“I am a product of my circumstances that has been wrought with hardships. When I go out as an officer my character will be put to the test, and then I want to see what a real man I am.”