How an Auto Driver’s Iron-Willed Son Became One of India’s Youngest IAS Officers :
- It is true that intelligence without ambition is like a phone without a network. Ansar Shaikh, a Maharashtrian lad is the youngest IAS officer of India who has managed to crack the UPSC exam at a tender age of 21. He made headlines across the country after this unimaginable feat was achieved.
- The Maharashtra lad made headlines after he cracked the competitive Union Public Service Commission exam in his maiden attempt at the tender age of 21 and secured an All-India Rank of 361 in 2016.
- Ansar Shaikh cracked the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) exam on his first attempt and became India’s youngest IAS officers. But, all this was not easy for him as he had to overcome a lot of challenges and difficulties on a personal front. Ansar grew up in a house with social menace of domestic violence and child marriage at close quarters. His sisters were married off at a young age of 15 and his brother dropped out of school when he was in the sixth standard. While all this might be more than enough for someone to drop out, determined Ansar didn’t.
- “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.”
- So his parents gave him a chance and he proved his mettle by getting a 91 per cent in his 12th boards. 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.” While Ansar’s father was an auto driver it was hard for him to maintain everything. So, when it came to Ansar’s higher studies in Pune’s renowned Fergusson College his brother used to deposit his entire monthly salary to Ansar’s account.
- It was during the first year that his teachers exposed him to UPSC. But, the big question was how he would be able to arrange ₹70,000 for his coaching classes.
- He recalls, “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 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.”
- However, as the course continued, Ansar became curious and began interacting with others. He explains that the spirit of inquiry is an essential quality that a UPSC aspirant should possess.
- “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 adds.
- He scored a 199 out of 275, which is a remarkable achievement as far as scoring in an IAS interview round goes.
- In his speech to IAS aspirants he said, “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.”
- Ansar Shaikh completed his early education from Zillah Parishad School (Marathi medium). He was an exemplary student and had secured 91 per cent in his Class X exams. He did HSC from Barwal College in Arts stream and got 100 out of 100 marks in Sanskrit. Ansar Shaikh came to Pune to pursue Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and got graduated from Fergusson College, Pune.
- Ansar Shaikh prepared for UPSC Exam at a private coaching class against great financial odds but never lost sight of his goal. Ansar’s father had to sell house for his IAS coaching classes. He attributes his success to his family and friends.
Optional Paper :
- Ansar Shaikh opted for Political Science as his optional subject for UPSC and he cracked it at the first go, securing rank 361 in the merit list.
- Ansar Shaikh, the son of an autorickshaw driver, cleared the IAS in his maiden attempt, snaring All-India Rank of 361. Since then, the media has thronged his lodgings in the city in a bid to capture his inspirational and remarkable personal struggle.
- Driven by sheer will, Ansar Shaikh worked for 12 hours a day straight for three consecutive years while preparing for UPSC Exam. Added to these burdens, he faced the stigma of social discrimination and a turbulent family life which he triumphed with a strength of character extremely rare for a youth of his age. Ansar Shaikh used to remain without food for 2-3 days as his financial condition was very poor. Ansar Shaikh set his goal to become IAS officer when he was in 10th and was inspired by his teacher who has cleared MPSC.
- “There is no alternative to hard work. During my struggle, my friends helped me a lot mentally and financially and even my coaching academy waived a portion of fees due to my poor financial condition,” said Ansar Shaikh.
- Besides his father, his younger brother Anees also helped a lot. His younger brother quit school so Ansar Shaikh could become an IAS officer. His bitter, first-hand tryst with social ostracisation has made a deep influence on Ansar Shaikh.