The real character of a person is tested when they face obstacles that pin them down. It is when they have their backs against the wall, that questions are asked of their will. But those with big dreams always find a way to achieve them. Though some are not as privileged as others, they have a bigger fight on their hands, but the problems are no excuse for them.
Qualifying the Civil Services Exam is a big thing, and it surely is not everyone’s cup of tea. There have been stories of real struggle and determination to succeed, of people who have cracked the civil services after overcoming adversity.
Let’s look at nine examples of people who have overcome steep challenges and ridden their way to success.
1. Hasan Safin
There is no dream big enough, if you have the resolve to accomplish it. Nobody could know it better than Hasan Safin. He cracked the Union Public Services Commission exam 2017, with an all-India rank of 570.
Hailing from a low-income family from the village of Kanodar in Palanpur district of Gujarat, his parents worked in a small diamond unit on meager wage. As Hasan stated in an interview “There were times when we had to go to bed without having food.”
But his parents knew Hasan’s hunger for education was far beyond the physical need to fill his stomach. So, his mother Naseem Banu began rolling out hundreds of rotis for local restaurants and marriage halls. Waking up at 3:00 a.m. every day, she would make anywhere between 20 to 200 kilos of medium-sized rotis, earning Rs 5,000-8,000 a month – all of which was saved to fund his education.
Such was his dedication that he also received help from a local businessman who spent Rs 3.5 lakh to fund Hasan’s two-year stay in Delhi, including the fees of a coaching institute, travel, and accommodation.
2. Ramesh Gholap
There is no room to quit, and that’s exactly what Ramesh Gholap did. The 2012 batch IAS officer started in life as a bangle seller and now nine years later, he is posted in Jharkhand as Joint Secretary in the Energy Department. Ramesh faced a lot of ups and downs in life. But that’s didn’t stop him from becoming what he is today.
His father Gorakh Gholap ran a cycle repair shop, enough to provide an income for his family of four, but the business did not last long as his health suffered from constant drinking. He passed away when Ramesh was still in school.
It was then that Ramesh’s mother, Vimal Gholap, started selling bangles in nearby villages to support the family. And though Ramesh’s left leg was affected by polio, he and his brother joined their mother in her little venture.
Despite thriving in academics in school days, Ramesh did a Diploma in Education as it was the only course he could afford. He didn’t stop there and also pursued a graduate degree in arts from an open university, and in 2009, he became a teacher.
Seeking inspiration from a tehsildar he had visited during his college times, Ramesh wanted to be one too. After his mother borrowed some money from a self-help group, Ramesh quit his job and went to Pune for six months to prepare for UPSC.
Ramesh tried for UPSC exam in 2010 but he did not qualify then.
Finally, he cracked the UPSC examination of 2012 with an AIR of 287. After a few months, his MPSC results were also out where he topped with the highest-ever marks of 1,244 out of 1,800. At present, Ramesh plies his trade as joint secretary in Jharkhand’s energy department.
3. Jayant Mankale
While clearing the UPSC is no cakewalk, doing it while being a visually-challenged candidate with no financial resources, is even more daunting.
Despite all odds, Jayant Mankale, who lost 75 percent of his vision in 2014 to retinitis pigmentosa secured the All-India rank of 923 in his fourth attempt for UPSC in 2018.
While his mother and sister sold homemade spices, pickles, and other food items to help him, his late father’s pension did little to pay off his college loans. But he was fortunate to get guidance from some of the teachers free of cost.
4. M Sivaguru Prabakaran
Much like many people out there, M Sivaguru Prabakaran had dreamt of joining the civil services. It was a difficult path, though, with his father drowning in alcohol and his mother and sister struggling to get through the day, selling coconut fronds.
Prabakaran, the young man from Melaottankadu village in Thanjavur district, was forced to give up engineering after class 12, to support his family. But he worked as a sawmill operator, managed his younger brother’s engineering education, got his older sister married and returned to complete his education.
He finished civil engineering at a Government institute in Vellore in 2008, and travelled to Chennai in the hope of cracking the IIT-Madras entrance examination. His friend referred him to a tutor at St Thomas Mount who coached disadvantaged students at no cost.
Prabakaran would attend college in Vellore on weekdays, working part-time at a mobile recharge outlet and travel to St Thomas Mount on weekend for tutoring. Often with no place to live there, he would sleep at the railway station.
Not only did Prabhakaran successfully crack the entrance, but he also topped his MTech programme in 2014 with a 9.0 GPA! He took one step closer to his dream of becoming an IAS officer after he cracked the UPSC civil services examination in 2017 and secured the 101st rank among the 990 who made the cut.
Also read: How A Specially-abled Bangle Seller Became An IAS Officer
Tapasya Parihar’s road to the pinnacle is a tale like no other. After years of hard work and overcoming challenges, she nailed the UPSC exams in 2018 after she secured an AIR 23 among the 990 selected candidates.
The young daughter of a farmer hails from the underdeveloped village of Jowa in Madhya Pradesh, that has a sparse population of only 800 people and an overall literacy rate of 63%. Most girls in this village never had the opportunity to pursue education as many of them are married off at a tender age.
But Tapasya, whose educational dreams were also supported by her father and the rest of her family, cleared the exam in her second attempt. Although she attended coaching classes in Delhi for her first attempt, she failed to make it through the preliminary examination.
So the law student decided to quit coaching and decided to prepare on her own the second time around. She proved all naysayers wrong when she not only cracked the competitive exam but also managed to rank among the top 25.
Surya Kant Dwivedi worked at the University of Lucknow as a security guard. His meagre income barely helped his family of five meet ends. But this humble security guard knew that only education and hard work could pull his family out of the abyss of poverty.
And so, when his youngest son Kuldeep, expressed interest in attempting the UPSC exams repeatedly, Surya became supportive of the idea.
Surya’s hard work and Kuldeep’s single-minded focus paid off when Kuldeep secured the 242nd rank in the Civil Services Exams in 2015. His dream of becoming an IPS officer could now be a reality.
Ansar Ahmad Shaikh
Nestled in Marathwada, Maharashtra, bordering the state of Karnataka, Shelgaon is home to Ansar Ahmad Shaikh. He rose to limelight after he cracked the UPSC exam in his very first attempt at 21 years of age.
While Ansar’s father Yonus Shaikh Ahmad, worked as an autorickshaw driver, his mother worked in the fields. His younger brother, Anees, dropped out of school and worked as a mechanic to support Ansar’s UPSC dream.
Despite all odds, Ansar secured 91% in his Class X board exams and moved on to get a degree in political science from Fergusson College, Pune. He studied for over 12 hours a day for three years to prepare for the civil services and made headlines when he became one of the youngest candidates to crack the competitive exams in 2015. Ansar secured an All-India rank of 361.
8. Pradeep Singh
His family faced limited financial means but that could not stop him realising his dream. Indore’s Pradeep Singh was not deterred by his father’s meagre income as a petrol pump attendant.
He dreamt of becoming an IAS officer and secured an all-India rank of 26 in the civil services examination in 2019.
Singh was selected for the Indian Revenue Service based on his 2018 ranking and was undergoing training at Nagpur’s National Direct Taxes Academy, from where he took leave for another crack at the exams for the coveted IAS tag.
According to a report by Navbharat Times, Pradeep’s family had to sell their house to help him continue his studies. When Pradeep moved to Delhi to prepare for UPSC, his family did not have enough money; however, they did not want his studies to suffer. As a result, he sold their house and the family moved into a rented house.
Also read: Family Sold House For Son To Study In Delhi, He Secured 26th Rank In UPSC
Ennis Kanmani Joy
A majority of India’s population does not have access to basic amenities in their lives and many struggle to get even basic essentials. However, that did not stop Ennis Kanmani Joy from pursuing her dreams.
A farmer’s daughter from a small village in Pirvom, Kerala, Joy’s family did not have enough money to buy books for her education. Beating all odds, she managed to crack the UPSC Civil Services exam in just her second attempt. Joy secured AIR of 65.
Ever since she was a child, Joy was a bright student and always aspired to be come a doctor. After finishing her schooling, she appeared for her MBBS examination but failed to crack it. After that, she completed her graduation in B.Sc. Nursing course and became a nurse.
Not being satisfied with her job as a nurse, Joy was determined to try something different to help others and, as luck would have it, she came across two people while travelling on a train and found out about the UPSC Civil Services Exam.
Despite a lack of access to books, she managed to prepare for the exam and used newspapers for her preparation.
She spent endless hours reading newspapers and especially paid attention to the editor’s page and current affairs. In her first attempt, she secured the 580th rank. Disappointed with her result, she took the exam again and managed to secure the 65th rank.