The Civil Services Examination (CSE), conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), is one of the most difficult examinations in the country. Around 5 lakh candidates attempt the Preliminary Examination. Eventually 900 to 1000 appointments have been recommended per year by the UPSC in the last couple of years. The average success percentage of the CSE over the last some years is around 0.19%. Candidates from every region of India and all socio-economic backgrounds vie for these appointments. This time, I shall share with you the inspiring stories of the All India Topper of CSR 2016, two toppers from CSE 2017 and a successful candidate from CSE 2020 and what we can learn from them.
In CSE 2016, Ms. Tina Dabi proved that caste and privilege have no role to play in life as long as one is committed to success. She was a candidate from the Scheduled Caste category, and she secured the All India Top Rank in the prestigious examination. Among all the IAS toppers we at the CSR have interacted with, Ms. Dabi was found to be one of the most articulate, assiduous and progressive par excellence, yet humble and down-to-earth. Ms. Dabi is an avid reader of CSR. She said, “CSR enables one to learn about the strategies of successful students and from that draw one’s own game plan.”
Ms. Tapasya Parihar is a feisty young lady from an underdeveloped village in the state of Madhya Pradesh. She bagged 23rd Rank in CSE 2017. She hails from Jowa village that has just over 800 people. It is about 10km from Narsinghpur district headquarters and has a literacy rate of 63%. The Law student cracked the exam in her second attempt after she failed to get through the Preliminary Examination in her first attempt.
In 2004, Mr. Sivaguru Prabakaran gave up his dream of pursuing an engineering degree as his family could not afford the money to help him attend a counselling session in Chennai. What followed was an extraordinary tale of grit and determination that took the son of an alcoholic from Melaottankadu village in Pattukottai in Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu to the hallowed corridors of the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration as an IAS probationer with Rank 101 in CSE 2017. An alcoholic father meant that much of the earning burden fell on his mother and sister, who made ends meet by weaving coconut fronds. When he could not pursue engineering, he decided to work to support the family. He worked as a saw mill operator for two years and did a bit of farming. Whatever money he could muster, he spent a portion on his family and saved some for his education. He was not prepared to let go of his dreams.
Constable Firoz Alam made Delhi Police proud by securing the 645th Rank in CSE 2020. His seniors in the force would help him by sanctioning leaves for his exam since he had shared with them that he was working hard to become a senior civil servant by cracking the CSE.
All of you would be at different rungs in India’s socio-economic hierarchy. While many of you would be financially comfortable thanks to the hard work put in by your parents, some of you might be able to closely identify with the protagonists of the above-mentioned stories of heroic achievements. No matter what your individual situation in life is, you can all draw inspiration from these real life stories. Remember to always focus 100% on your career so that you can build a golden future for yourself and be of utmost benevolent use in service of your country. It is one thing to get admission in a good college and score well in order to make your parents happy. It is another thing to make them really proud by achieving difficult career goals. Do not merely drift along in life and while away your valuable time with friends or on social media. Aim high, write down your career targets in a diary and make planned efforts every day to achieve your goals.
Television channels try to improve their Television Rating Points (TRPs) by focussing on distractions like Bollywood scandals, conjectures about the consumption of banned substances and the recent suicide of a popular film star. You should not fall prey to these games which are played on the minds of the viewers by the media. You should save yourself from wasting your valuable time in lapping up silly and salacious tales which are broadcast non-stop until the next scandal breaks, or is manufactured by vested interests. You should, instead, use this time to work hard and build a successful career for yourself.
I wish that you have all the focus, dedication and success in your career!