Count your blessings'...
Deccan Chronicle.| Swati Sharma
The 1992 batch IAS officer Jayesh Ranjan shares his motivational story
Jayesh Ranjan with wife Ruchi
Jayesh Ranjan doesn’t see anything special in himself that led to his selection as an IAS officer. "As a matter of fact, there are countless others who seem more deserving, yet they get left behind doing relatively mundane things. This realisation makes me remain grounded and modest, and see my position as an opportunity to help others, and respect people," says the Principal Secretary of the Industries & Commerce (I&C) and Information Technology (IT) Departments of the Telangana government. ‘Count your blessings’ is his motto in life.
A strong believer in healthy work-life balance for optimum productivity, the 1992 batch IAS officer says, "squeezing more out of my day is a skill that I have developed quite well. Moreover, pursuing my hobbies and interests gives me a chance to get close to people outside my regular work circles, and get fresh insights as an administrator."
Jayesh, the son of highly educated parents, was born and brought up in Lucknow. Preparing for a corporate career, he took the CAT examination and won a seat at IIM Calcutta — the very college that his father had studied in. But he realised that it wasn’t what he wanted, and decided to sit for the civil services examination. "If things had worked out differently, I would have started my work life in the corporate world, but I’m sure I would not have stayed there for long. I might have drifted to academia or the NGO sector or even journalism like my father," says Jayesh.
His desire to serve the country was influenced by his father’s attitude of wanting to look after people and help the vulnerable. Talking about his early years, the soft-spoken Jayesh says, "I had more or less a normal childhood. As I am an only child, and both my parents were working, I did get lonely at times at home. But that also made me develop my imagination, my creativity, my inner resources, and thus I never felt bored. I was fond of sports, reading books – the usual things which children from professional families did. But I had one relatively uncommon hobby – listening to the radio. I used to listen to all kinds of radio stations from a very young age, including stations like BBC, VoA, Radio Australia, Binaca Geet Mala on Radio Ceylon, etc."
Acing the test
Jayesh spent nowhere near the 20 hours a day that civil services aspirants generally spend studying, yet he topped the examination at the first attempt, without attending any coaching institutions.
"It’s very important for a civil servant to stay up-to-date with what’s going on in the rest of the world, the best practises, the success stories, and so on. This calls for a lot of reading — books and articles — listening to web casts and podcasts, attending conferences and seminars. I try to do as much as I can, but realise that my efforts are not enough," says the bureaucrat, who came to Hyderabad in 1993.
He believes that being grateful is the key to success. "I feel very fortunate that till today, I have been able to stay engaged with all my childhood hobbies. I continue to read, listen to music. I play sports only occasionally, for recreation, but now I am involved in sports administration and organising, as the President of the state Olympic Association. Over the years, I have picked up new interests too – travel, food, culture, photography, social service – that have added a new richness to my life," says the multifaceted bureaucrat.
Jayesh Ranjan has developed a good exercise regimen. "I walk for one hour every morning between 6 and 7 a.m. at the KBR Park. I hit the gym in the evening for a light workout 4-5 days a week," he says, but quips, "I wish I had similar control over my diet." He shares that he eats very simple food in small portions when at home, but since he has to dine out frequently, dieting goals go awry.
"I have been experimenting for a decade. I turn completely vegetarian for the first 6 months of the year, and change to a non-veg diet for the next six months," he says.
While admitting that he is not sure if this programme has made a difference to his health, he says, "It has increased my will power though – I don’t find it difficult at all to say "No" to the most tempting non-veg food during my vegetarian phase."
The overworked officer, knows how to unwind as well. He says, "My mental makeup is quite different, in that I don’t feel stressed. Not to say that I don’t face difficulties in my work or non-working life, but I take a detached and optimistic view of things and try to plan and make things work differently."
He listens to music quite a lot. "I have eclectic taste. Qawwalis are my favourite, followed by Hindi film songs, jazz, and Indian classical. I enjoy movies too. I don’t fail to watch the films of my favourite directors and actors. And when I hear of a movie becoming popular, I make it a point to watch it."
What’s his ‘To Do’ list
"That’s a really long list, and unlikely to be fulfilled in one lifetime. But a few items at the top include learning to cook exotic dishes, learning to play musical instruments, and learning to speak foreign languages."