How Maharashtra’s Auto-driver’s Son Defied All Odds To Become One Of India’s Youngest IAS Officers

Cracking the UPSC Exam to become an IAS officer is every student’s dream. Well, Ansar Shaikh, a village boy from Jalna’s Shelgaon the son of an auto-rickshaw driver is one of those students who had studied hard to get his name in the merit list of Civil Services exam which is conducted by UPSC(Union Public Service Commission).

Well, this Maharashtra lad had made headlines after he cracked the competitive Union Public Service Commission exam in his 1st attempt at the age of 21 to secure an All-India Rank of 361 in 2016.

If you’ve ever heard his speech, you would come to know about the odds he fought to restore his family’s faith in the need of education in today’s competitive world.

His father, who was a rickshaw driver in the drought-hit village of Shelgaon in Jalna district of Marathwada was struggling with alcohol addiction. He had married thrice, while Ansar’s mother, who used to work as a farm hand, is his second wife.

Right from childhood, Ansar had to go through a lot of struggles and hardships. While his sisters were married off at the young age of 15, his brother had to drop out of class 6 to work at his uncle’s garage.

Though Ansar’s brother is just 2 years younger yet Ansar considers him bigger than himself. Well, this is interesting, isn’t it?

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While things were going against the young boy but he still didn’t give up.

“My relatives would walk up to my parents and ask them why there was a need for me to study. When I was in class four, my parents approached my teacher and said that they wanted me to drop out, but my teacher was persistent. He told them, ‘Your son is a bright student, invest in his education. You will not regret it. He will turn your lives around.’ For my uneducated parents, a teacher saying that was a big deal,” Ansar said.

Finally, his parents decided to give him a chance.

Narrating his days of struggle while studying in Zilla Parishad School, he jokes and says, “I loved chicken growing up, but of course, it was a luxury in a home where a square meal was difficult to put together.”

“Once in a while, we’d spot worms in our mid-day meals. So vegetarian food would automatically turn non-vegetarian,” he adds.

After completing his class 12 studies in Marathi-medium, Ansar’s decision to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science at Pune’s renowned Fergusson College was a tough decision.

While his father used to send small amounts from his savings to help him survive in the city while his brother would deposit his entire monthly salary of Rs 6,000 in Ansar’s account to help Ansar in achieving his dreams.

During his college days, he had a pair of chappals and two pairs of clothes. While he was from a vernacular medium school and wasn’t fluent in English that had created an inferiority complex.

During 1st year, he came to know about UPSC through his teachers. So, he decided to approach the Unique Academy’s Tukaram Jadhav and requested him for admission to the course.

Meanwhile, the question here was as to how he would arrange the UPSC coaching fee which cost him around Rs. Rs 70,000.

 He said, “I spoke to Jadhav sir and told him of the background I came from. He was gracious enough to accept me into the course and agreed to give me a 50% concession because he believed I had a spark.

When I entered the class, most students who came there were in their late 20s and early 30s, who had given two to three attempts. I was the only 19-year-old. I would often get intimidated and found it difficult to interact. I would sit in the back and crane my neck,” he added.

Interestingly, when the course started, Ansar became curious and started to interact with others. He said that the need to inquire is very essential to a UPSC aspirant.

“I was often mocked when I would ask silly questions. But I never really stopped asking questions. There were days when I would survive on vada pav and didn’t have the money to buy preparatory material. So I would borrow it from my friends and photocopy it. I pushed myself very hard. I would study for 13 hours a day because I knew that I couldn’t afford failure. I wouldn’t have the resources to give a second attempt,” he added.

Fortunately, he managed to clear the prelims, but the mains and interview were still to go. Suddenly,  while preparing for his mains, his sister’s husband died of alcohol overdose.

Now the responsibility of comforting the family had fallen upon his shoulders as his father and brother were working.

He said, “But even in the difficult time, my sister who had lost her husband, as strong as she was, told me to return to Pune and prepare for the mains.”

Finally, the results were and he managed to clear the mains.

During his interview round with a panel, a retired IAS officer asked him about Muslim youth joining the radical organisation. Further, at one point in the interview -they asked him if he belonged to the Shia sect or the Sunni sect.

To this, Ansar brilliantly replied, “I am an Indian Muslim.”

He scored 199 out of 275 which is a remarkable achievement as far as scoring in an IAS interview round goes.

To all the serious IAS aspirants, Ansar gave a very good message, “If you think your competition is with other lakhs of aspirants who give the exam, you are mistaken. Your only competition is you. So get rid of all of your pessimistic thoughts and success will come your way.”

He added, “Please remember, poverty and success have no correlation. All you need is hard work and determination. What background you come from, doesn’t matter. Marks might not define your intelligence. But for some, it is their only way to pull themselves out of the abyss of poverty. It is not easy and requires rigorous hard work to arrive at those grades and shouldn’t be disregarded.”

Well, this was an inspirational story. If you liked it or not, please share in the comments section below

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About Manish Sharma

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