Kolkata’s Azar Zia was leading a life that he had always aspired for – having a corporate job, earning a good amount of money and of course enjoying the madness that comes as a package with such high profile jobs. But three years into it made him realize that he had enough of the corporate madness. He found himself craving for job satisfaction that the corporate sector never provides.
The Reason for the Move
Speaking to edInbox over the phone, he said, “I was earning a good salary. But it made me realize that my needs were still very middle-class. I also discovered that my job was not giving me the satisfaction that I was looking for. A bit of introspection made me realize that a career in civil services was my true calling.”
Zia, a resident of Kolkata’s Beniapukur locality, is very much in news for securing the 97th position in the Civil Services Examination 2017, conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). An alumnus of St. James’ School, Azar, while speaking to edInbox, said, “My aspirations, like any convent-educated student, were very different. Making a career in civil services was something that never appealed to me. I believed that the corporate sector was my true calling. Hence, like any youth of today, I dedicated my life to completing my engineering course, which was quickly supplemented with an MBA degree from the University of Delhi’s Faculty of Management Studies. Post that, I got into a corporate job, only to realize that I shall have to hang my boots as it wasn’t my true calling.”
However, recalling the moment when he decided to share the news with his family, he said, “My mother was extremely upset with my decision. She was all set to see me settling down in life and here I was quitting a dream job. However, my father, who is a retired West Bengal Civil Service (WBCS) officer, was very happy with my decision as he had always wanted me to be into civil services.”
He added that his decision to appear for the UPSC examination after reaching the fag end of his educational career was indeed a risk. “I was 28 when I took this decision. So, I was even more determined to crack the examination.”
The Path Taken
Determined to be a Civil servant, he packed his bags and moved over to Delhi, where he gave himself a solid two-years of training. “The biggest challenge was to survive without any source of income. Luckily, I had saved enough to fund my UPSC training.”
It took three attempts and a lot of hard work to crack the UPSC examination. However, he maintained that he had no fixed hours or routine set to study for the exam. “At times, I studied for hours and at times for shorter durations. However, each time that I studied I made sure that I devoted quality time to my books.” On being asked about his decision to shift his base to Delhi, he explained, “Delhi, till date, provides some of the best UPSC training courses. In this respect, Kolkata lacks. It could be because of the fact that there are not many UPSC aspirants from West Bengal. But, I guess, things are changing with time.”
On being asked as to what could be the possible reason for a lesser number of students from West Bengal opting for civil services, he replied, “Language could be the main reason. UPSC examinations are conducted in English and Hindi. Many from West Bengal are not very comfortable with these two languages. As a consequence, most of the civil service aspirants end up appearing for the WBCS examination.”
Coming back to his preparations, the young lad maintained that having known that he had a limited number of attempts to crack the examination; he approached it with a complete plan. “I knew that Delhi has power and water problems, which can actually affect my performance. Hence, as a conscious move, I opted to stay at the minority-run Hamdard Study Circle. It has a very informal coaching approach. Single accommodation is provided to aspirants who crack their entrance examination. The bonus is their well-equipped library, which is open to students for 18 hours a day. The big lawns and playground give the students a chance to enjoy their leisure time. The food is both cheap and healthy. In other words, this study circle gave me a very conducive environment to prepare for the UPSC examination. There was absolutely no distraction for me.”
Also the fact that he is completely off social media helped him a lot. “I have never been active on social media. I perhaps won’t be able to recall as to when I had last logged on to my Facebook account. I am not on Twitter and am rarely online on WhatsApp. So, I didn’t really have to take care of these distractions.”
The Plan Ahead
On being asked as to what he plans to do as an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer given that he has bagged a decent rank in the UPSC examination, he revealed that he plans to work towards poverty alleviation and education for all. “These two areas are inter-related and are very close to my heart. So, once I take on the charges, I shall be working towards serving my nation and help it address these two issues that in a way constitute the root cause of many problems that plague India today.”
Reporting by Shabina Akhtar Special Correspondent, Kolkata
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