Even when I was a child of 3-4 years of age, my Father used to talk about IAS officers he knew, and how they were ‘big people’. While I was in the 5th standard, he first brought us (my Sister and me) a copy of the Competition Success Review (CSR) Magazine, where IAS toppers were featured every month. Their inspirational journeys and the general knowledge the magazine offered, made us thirst for more. This was without doubt the only reason why I started dreaming about being an IAS Officer. As a child, I was never into reading, like my elder sister was, who was a voracious reader and a poetess in English. Her poems were regularly published in the Indian Express Newspaper. All cajoling by my father didn’t work. Finally he told me that if could read hundred books, then he would buy be a bicycle. That was a good enough carrot. I started the laborious process of reading novels. But once I got going, there was no stopping me! Books of Enid Blyton, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Tolstoy, Maxim Gorky, Hardy Boys and Dana Girls etc. kept me awake day and night…. I am indebted to Father, and Mother who was Government Teacher and my Sister, for getting me into the reading habit…
Later on, our Father got us admitted to the Public Library and British Library, Trivandrum, where we used to spend all Sundays of our childhood. Come a Sunday, than I would be peddling away on my bicycle towards Palayam. Those days in the 70s, participating in in all kinds of quiz programmes in Trivandrum was a craze for all kids. I too was bugged with this craze. The weekly Siddhartha Basu Quiz Time Show was eagerly awaited. Cycling from one quiz programme to the other was a routine. I used to participate in AIR and Doordarshan quiz programmes too. When I was in the 6thstd, I asked an MP as to how does one get into the IAS; and he promptly asked me to first pass my 6th std, pass out of school with distinction, do well in College and then think about taking the exam! Discussions at home used to centre around this subject most of the time…After getting into Trivandrum Medical College also, when asked what specialty would I be interested in, I would answer that becoming an IAS Officer was my ambition.
But marrying my MBBS classmate at the age of 24 against objections by both families meant that we had to commence work the moment one had completed house surgeoncy. The first thing I did was to sell my Lamby Scooter for Rs.7,500/- and go straight to Pai and Co bookstore at Pulimoodu Jn. and come back home in an auto rickshaw filled with Civil Service exam material! Working at night, studying during the day became the norm. In between we started our own clinic with the help of my parents. But that didn’t work out, so one had to again work during the night and study during the day. It was my wife, the perfectionist that she is, who insisted that the subjects I had chosen, History and Geography, for my prelims and mains were cumbersome to study and were low scoring, and she sat through the entire syllabus and finally chose Zoology and Anthropology for me! Zoology for a medical graduate is a cakewalk! And Anthropology was so easy and a pleasure to study. It was a do or die battle! A zero to hero dream!
I got into the Indian Postal Service in the 1993 exam and subsequently into the IAS in the 1994 exam. Today I feel that any service in the Government is an opportunity to discover ones potential to do our outstanding best for our Country!