For a willing and stubborn heart, sky’s the limit. A determined individual becomes successful who gives all his efforts battling against all odds to achieve something in life. K Jaiganesh of Tamil Nadu is a gritty success story who has proved it by cracking UPSC after 6 unsuccessful attempts and becoming an IAS officer which he always aspired to be.
Born in a remote village, Vinavamangalam of Tamil Nadu, Jaiganesh K Jaiganesh was working as a waiter at a Chennai-based eatery to earn his daily bread. However, his dream was to achieve something big and do something to improve society.
For the last eight months, K Jaiganesh (29) served food to hungry customers at a small city eatery next to Satyam Cinemas. Now, he will continue to serve people, though in a different capacity ” as a civil servant.
Despite facing all hurdles and several failures, K Jaiganesh cracked the Union Public Service Commission Civil Services (UPSC) exams, dubbed one of the country’s toughest exams, and became a prestigious civil servant. After six unsuccessful attempts, he secured a rank of 156 in the UPSC exam.
Jaiganesh holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Government Thanthai Periyar Institute of Technology in Vellore. Despite a professional degree, he had to do odd jobs to meet ends.
“I had tried unsuccessfully to appear for the civil services examinations thrice from my village. I realised that I needed to be in Chennai to be able to make it. Therefore, I secured admission at the government-run All-India Institute for IAS Coaching at Anna Nagar. Having come here, I had to take up whatever work I could get to pay my monthly mess bill of Rs 600 and travel,”
He initially started working at Satyam Cinemas, but that didn’t spare him sufficient time to prepare for the exams with dedication. At this point, he took up a job at a local eatery. This assignment gave him some time to prepare; finally, in 2007 he overcame all odds to crack the exams successfully. He went to the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy for Public Administration in Mussoorie for further training. Jaiganesh believes that the stint at LBSNAA(the training academy) honed and polished his skills and prepared him for a life of bureaucracy.
He was serving the people through food orders. He will keep serving people albeit in a different capacity. During his three years in Chennai, Jaiganesh stayed with his friends and used their cellphones to stay connected with his near and dear ones. Today, after his success after six unsuccessful attempts, Jaiganesh has this to say:
“It’s been a struggle all through.”
Such was his condition that he could not even afford a phone to stay in touch with family and had to depend on his friends’ help. Jaiganesh was used to the harsh realities of life and took it in his stride to gather motivation. The eldest of four siblings, Jaiganesh had landed in Chennai right after graduation.
“It was in Bengaluru that I started thinking about my village and my friends. I wondered sadly why none of them studied and worked in good companies. Because they had no education, they always remained poor. There was not enough money to buy even proper food. There was no opportunity there; the only place they could work was the tannery in the nearby town. If they didn’t get work at the tannery, they worked as auto drivers or coolies. In short, there was no one in my village to guide the young generation. Can I help my villagers in any way, I thought?”
In his first two attempts, he failed to clear even the prelims. Jayaganesh says that in the initial years, he had little idea on how to prepare or even what subjects to choose. Choosing mechanical engineering as his main subject was a problem, the solution of which was given by Uma Surya in Vellore, who was also preparing for the exam.
Surya advised him to drop mechanical engineering and pick sociology as his main subject since it’s syllabus is a lot crisp. However, he failed in his third attempt, due to lack of proper guidance. That’s when he came across the All India Civil Service Coaching Centre in RA Puram, Chennai, a state-sponsored coaching centre that gave him direction.
After intense preparations and cracking the prelims and mains, came the crucial phase of the personal interviews. During the interview, Jaiganesh was asked questions on Tamil politics, Tamil history and association with cinema, among other facets. Despite giving his best shot, Jayaganesh was filled with an obvious sense of unease. This time, however, he would not be denied his glory.
“Finally, when the results came, I couldn’t believe myself. I had secured the 156th rank out of more than 700 selected candidates. It’s a top rank, and I am sure to get into the IAS. I felt like I had won a war that had been going on for many years. I felt free and relieved,”
His success was met with great joy back home, and everyone from his village welcomed him with much love and fanfare. Jaiganesh became an instant celebrity and role model for several budding civil service aspirants. This is not merely a story of true grit, self-belief and perseverance, but the aspirational value the coveted IAS title holds for many Indians.