Chandigarh: Students who have received top marks in their board exams are elated, their faces plastered all over the media and social media. But what about those who didn’t get high marks. Should they hang their heads in disappointment?
That is the question that faced Aditya, who goes by one name only, when he got 67 per cent marks in his Rajasthan board exams in 2009. He was raised on the dreams of becoming a civil servant, but his marks seemed to signal the end of the road for him.
Eight years later, he cleared the UPSC examination process, and the next year, became an IPS officer of the Punjab cadre. He is currently posted as assistant superintendent of police in Sangrur, and is undergoing training at the National Police Academy in Hyderabad.
Aditya told the story of his arduous journey from his board exams to his eventual selection by the UPSC. In between, he appeared without success in more than two dozen competitive examinations, clearing the UPSC exam on his fourth attempt.
The mantra for his success was hard work, persistence, patience, “and a very, very thick skin”, the 28-year-old told ThePrint over the phone.
“I did not give up. And though it might sound easy, it’s tough to handle constant failures. When one belongs to a middle-class family whose only investment is your education and there are high hopes, the pressure is immense,” he said.
Success after a string of failures
Aditya had first tried to become an engineer, but could not clear the entrance exams. “My father then coaxed me towards preparing for the civil services. He too had attempted the UPSC exam but did not clear it. But many of his friends cleared it, and they became my source of inspiration,” the IPS officer said.
“My parents are both government school teachers and we live in a village in Rajasthan. Till class 8, I studied in the village school, after which I shifted to the (Hanumangarh) district headquarters school in Bhadra, where I also finished my graduation. I was studying in the regional or Hindi medium,” he said.
“We don’t own any land or have any business. For us, education is everything, and is the only ladder to move ahead. Once I had understood that, I knew I had to vie for a job through competitive examinations. I have studied all my life in the Hindi medium and prepared for the exams also in Hindi. In 2013, I left my village for the first time to go to Delhi for my civil services preparation.”
Aditya appeared for his first attempt at the civil services exam in 2014, but was unable to clear the prelims. The next year, he managed to clear the prelims and the mains, but did not make it through the interview.
“In 2016, I appeared again, but I was so overconfident about my achievements of 2015 that I stumbled badly and could not even clear the mains. That is one big lesson I learnt in my life. Never take anything for granted. I prepared again and managed to clear the examination finally in 2017,” he said.
“In between, I took several other exams, including some that would have made me a school teacher or a banker or an excise inspector. I also tried for the Rajasthan civil services and made it to the interview twice, but did not make the final cut. Today, I am so glad that I did not clear any of those exams,” he added.
Pressure from society
Aditya also spoke about the pressure that society puts on an individual.
“Apart from the fact that one has to keep studying for long years, there is a lot of social pressure as well. People who know your family, relatives and friends, are most interested in what you are doing. All is well if you are faring well. But the moment one fails, one is projected as the biggest failure they have come across,” the IPS officer said.
“When I did not clear the UPSC mains, I was told so many things that I finally just shut down my social media accounts and decided that I will not tell anyone that I am preparing for the exam again. It was my parents who supported me all through not allowing these social pressures to get to me,” he said.
(An earlier version of this article incorrectly gave Aditya’s rank as additional SP. The error is regretted)