Telangana's Uma Harathi N, who stood third in the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) Civil Services Exam (CSE). (Photo: DC)
We all think that cities are best for better quality education and job prospects. So it is not unusual for students to move to cities with the hope to become achievers. They think that cities offer the best training, particularly for professional courses and competitive exams. But Uma Harathi from Telangana, who scored third rank in the UPSC, has a completely different opinion because of her experience first-hand!
Talking about her humble family background. Her father is a Superintendent of Police and mother a homemaker. Her brother is an IES officer. He cracked the UPSC in 2000 to join the Indian Engineering Services. Having graduated from IIT-Hyderabad, Harathi felt she wanted to crack the UPSC.
When Deccan Chronicle contacted her and asked why she left Delhi and went back home to prepare for the top exam, she says: "I went to Delhi to get trained for cracking the UPSC, but could not adjust there. The food was different and also, the cost of living was very high. I felt the atmosphere was chaotic and the UPSC aspirants were just getting carried away into the rat race. I felt the training institutes were not giving any time to the students to understand and assimilate what they were studying. Students are forced to ape what others do. We become active because the others are. There is no time to decide on our own. So, I moved back to my native place, Narsampet, to prepare for the tough exam."
So, you felt you could not withstand the commotion?
"I did not have time to think for myself about the examination. There is continuous ‘gyan daan’ from the tutors in the institute. Some people can thrive in chaos, but I am one of those that can think better in a calm environment."
What other challenges did you face in the national capital?
Forming a healthy peer group was also very difficult. There are numerous UPSC aspirants, but I could not find reliable friends there. I could not cope with the prevailing conditions. People who are used to such an atmosphere can probably manage it, but I was new to the place and felt it was a challenge. There was no time to stop and think about what we wanted to do."
What’s your message to UPSC aspirants?
Students don’t have to worry so much. These days, all the coaching institutes have gone online. We can access the training offered by any institute online. You can study from your home, away from all the hustle and bustle of the city.
The primary thing is for students to understand the examination pattern and with determination, anybody can succeed in clearing the UPSC exam. You will be able to clear the exam if you get the exam pattern properly.
If you would not have cracked the UPSC, what would you have done?
Initially, I did not have a Plan-B. But after beginning this journey, I thought if I fail the exam, I will do something related to yoga and healthy food. I would have become an entrepreneur in nutritional food. I would have launched a start-up in that sector.
Tell us something about your peer group.
I have very good friends. A few of my friends cracked the UPSC last year and this year, a couple of them cleared along with me. I am fortunate enough that my friends always shared their knowledge with me and even my seniors told us about some tricks and tips to have an edge over others. Pawan Datta (AIR 22) and Jaisimha Reddy (AIR 217) and Akshay Deepak (AIR 759) are few of my UPSC friends.
These days, many youngsters complain that they do not have true friends. You are speaking about peer groups. Were they transparent with you?
I am fortunate enough that even my seniors helped me a lot. I did not face such issues within my peer group. Our institute was in Narayanpet and we did group studies and indulged in group discussions. It was a very healthy environment.