Alumnus Omnibus : Ayush Sinha, AIR 7 – UPSC 2017

“Wahi Pashu Pravarti Hai Ki Aap Aap Hi Chare,

            Wahi Manushya Hai Ki Jo Manushya Ke Liye Mare!”

The above two lines from a famous Hindi poem ‘Manushyata’ by Maithili Sharan Gupt are apt for Ayush Sinha, IAS officer and BITS Goa Alumnus, who recently made us proud by securing AIR 7 in the Civil Services Examinations, 2017. In a world where most people work for self-gain, a true human serves a bigger purpose in the society and works for his fellow beings.

DoJMA got the golden opportunity to interview Mr. Ayush Sinha when he came on campus to deliver a talk; for The 4th Annual BITS Alumni Summit – Metanoia, organised by BITSAA; about his experiences, his inspirations and his journey from BITS Pilani, Goa to Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie.

Q. What according to you are the ways in which one can make one’s fundamentals strong for the Civil Services Examination?

A. The most important thing is to understand the initialization process. One needs to know where to start from and how to start. In order to do that, the aspirant should consult a senior from college or a friend from the Civil Services, who has cleared the exam recently. This will give the aspirant the right guidance about which books to study from, what topics to cover, and how to go about the preparation from the very beginning. Fortunately for me, I had enough guidance from senior BITSians in the Civil Services.

Q. What according to you is the main difference in the strategy of preparation for the prelims and the mains?

A. The preparation for prelims and mains is integrated to some extent. There are some subjects that overlap. However, there are certain subjects which are stand-alone subjects in the mains. So that requires a different preparation process. Plus, prelims is objective based, so your focus should be on practicing objective-type questions. Mains, on the other hand, is subjective. It requires a great deal of answer-writing practice. Finally, the interview stage is completely different from these two because it is more of a test of your personality rather than a test of knowledge.

Q. As a Civil Servant, in what specific areas would you like to work upon to bring about a change?

A. My interest lies in being involved in sectors which are involved in delivery of essential public services, ranging from education, healthcare and sanitation to even law and order and women security. After seven to eight years of my service, I feel that I will have a better understanding as to which sector to go in among the three main sectors, namely social sector, economic sector and infrastructure sector.

Q. There is a pre-conceived notion among people that when you get a job like the Civil Services, you get job security and all kinds of incentives and life becomes smooth. How close or far is this from the reality?

A. That is true to an extent because it has been felt that job security acts as a deterrent to performance. While job security is needed in this sector since the constitution itself guarantees it, we also need to perform consistently. The current government has come up with a lot of initiatives in this area. It is interesting to note that some officials have also been sacked by the government. So, it is expected from the officials to deliver a respectable performance.

Q. What do you think is an ideal lifestyle/routine for a Civil Services aspirant?

A. Well, my routine was quite different. I used to study mostly at night. My routine was to wake up in the afternoon, then study for an hour, then take a break, then read the newspaper and so on. It is important to understand that it doesn’t matter how many hours you study. Some people study for eight hours, some for four, but there is a bare minimum which is required. But what matters the most is the focus and concentration you put in the subject. Apart from that, if you could include a physical activity in your routine, say Yoga, or a sport, or maybe a TV show, that certainly helps relax your mind and body. However, it differs from person-to-person and you should follow a routine that works out for you the best.

Q. How did you make the choice between a corporate lifestyle and the Civil Services?

A. After my third year, I interned with ITC. While the internship experience was really good, I wanted to be involved in something which had a bigger purpose in life. I wanted a platform to make a difference in people’s lives. The corporate sector, in some places, does not offer that. The kind of difference you can make being an IAS officer is unparalleled. Secondly, I was the captain of the football team at BITS. I like to lead people and leadership in Civil Services comes at a very early age since an IAS officer has to be constantly involved in decision making. So these are the two major factors which led me to choose Civil Services over a corporate job.

Q. Why do you think some people switch from corporate jobs to Civil Services these days?

A. From the talks I have had with my colleagues who shifted their careers, I understood that the logic for doing that has been quite simple. While the salary may be better in a corporate job, life is short and at the end of the day, you need job satisfaction. You need a good sleep at night. And if you are deriving a lot of job satisfaction, if you are able to improve people’s lives, if you are able to get a widow her pension on time, if you are able to improve the education facilities in a school, that kind of job satisfaction is unparalleled. The second reason, to an extent, is social prestige. For example, I was invited by the President and it was a proud moment for my family. So, Civil Services carry a lot of social prestige in comparison to the corporate sector. That’s primarily why people are more keen towards Civil Services these days.

Q. What are the challenges faced by a Civil Servant in a bureaucracy?

A. The challenges are many. Unlike popular perception, it is not a nine-to-five job. It is a twenty-four/seven job with no weekends off! The pressure is from all the directions. On one hand you’re accountable to the public for the delivery of the essential services and on the other, you are also accountable to the fourth pillar of the democracy, that is, the media. Thirdly, you are also accountable to the political executives. A political executive might be an elected leader. They have to deliver what they have promised to the public. That consequently puts a lot of pressure on Civil Servants in order to implement the policies of the government.

Q. This might be a clichéd question, but what’s your success mantra? You could tell us. We won’t share with anyone. *Winks*

A. For success in an exam like this, Sacrifice is the key. I gave up meeting my friends. It was tough for someone like me who was so fond of his friends, but I had to do it. I gave up going to family events. Civil Services became my life. It was the only thing that mattered to me day in and day out. I would study for six hours a day, but with a lot of focus and concentration. That doesn’t mean that for the remaining eighteen hours, I would go out and meet people! I would always be in that zone, and I find this mantra common for most people who clear this examination.