The UPSC civil services exam is considered one of the toughest exams in the country. Lakhs of people appear in the exam and only a few hundred qualify in the end. Only a proper combination of hard work, guidance and tenacity can help UPSC aspirants crack these exams. Many candidates, despite having all the comforts and coaching that money can buy, fail to clear the Civil Services exam. But some determined and zealously diligent candidates achieve success despite all odds stacked against them. One such inspiring person is Ansar Ahmad Shaikh, who cleared the UPSC civil services exam, 2015 in his very first attempt. He secured AIR 361 and he was just 21; beating Roman Saini who was 22 when he became an IAS officer.
Ansar is the son of Yonus Shaikh Ahmad, an auto rickshaw driver from Jalna’s Shedgaon village in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra. His mother worked in fields. His younger brother, Anees dropped out of school in standard VII. Anees worked in a garage to support the family and help his brother to prepare for the IAS exam. His financial condition forced him to go without food for two to three days during his preparation for the exam.
Ansar worked almost twelve hours a day for three years to achieve his IAS dream. His success is especially commendable because of the fact that education wasn’t a priority in his family. In his own words Ansar describes his domestic situation, “Education has never been a watchword in my family. My father, a rickshaw driver, has three wives. My mother is the second wife. My younger brother dropped out of school and my two sisters were married off at an early age. When I told them that I had cleared the UPSC and in all likelihood will be an IAS officer, they were stunned.” Ansar has been given West Bengal cadre. His father used to beat his mother often and his two sisters were married off at ages 14 and 15. However, braving all challenges and with the support of his brother and mother, the perpetual topper during most of his academic career focused on studying and cracking the UPSC exams at first shot.
Even though Ansar’s large family struggled to make ends meet, he remained a bright student Science from Fergusson College, Pune.He thanked Rahul Pandve, his 30-year-old teacher for giving him guidance and support. (Pandve had also cleared the UPSC civil services exam in 2015 with AIR 200).
Ansar said on his success “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”.The 21-year-old Muslim lad from Maharashtra had to change his surname to a more acceptable “Shubham” to get accommodation and food without hassles. He had come to Pune in 2014, as a Fergusson College student.
However, since he belongs to the Other Backward Class category, he is optimistic of an Indian Administrative Services (IAS) posting, which could catapult him as country’s youngest IAS officer
“I was marginalized by three different categories. I am from a backward undeveloped region, I hail from a poor economic background and I belong to a minority community. I will tackle all these issues as an administrator since I have witnessed these issues at close quarters,” Shaikh added.