One day, Y.K. Puttasomegowda, who was soon to retire from the Indian Administrative Services, decided after a chat with friends that he wanted to give back to society. He formed a larger group with 10 others from the civil services and other professions, all of whom came from rural backgrounds. They knew what it felt like to try and compete against urban residents, who had more exposure and knew better English. This experience gave them a sense of purpose, and in August 1992, they launched the Krishik Sarvodaya Foundation.
At the time, says Puttasomegowda, who is founder-chairman of the foundation, they formed the charitable trust with the sole purpose of encouraging youngsters — particularly those from rural backgrounds — to write the all-India civil services exams. While the foundation didn’t want to shut out urban aspirants, the focus was on rural candidates, who lacked nothing in terms of intelligence, but needed a boost when it came to confidence levels and communication skills.
An average of 40 students are trained here every year, and around half of them come from rural areas in the State.
The foundation offers coaching on its premises in Kodihalli for Rs. 10,000, which includes the cost of course materials, and lecturers from different universities are brought in to coach the students in various subjects. Additional English training is provided to those who require it.
The Krishik Sarvodaya Foundation can also accommodate around 35 male rural students on its premises.
Candidates are selected after an entrance test and an interview with the trustees. And while the foundation’s focus is on students from Karnataka, they have, in rare cases, trained the odd student from other States such as Jammu and Kashmir and Jharkand.
The foundation has since expanded from its office in Kodihalli to other districts all over the State, with branches in Mysore, Hassan, Tumkur, Kodagu and, most recently, Shimoga.
It even has a branch in Delhi, where candidates from Karnataka are trained for the interview round.
Ramya Nagaraj is one of the foundation’s current batch of students preparing to write the UPSC exam. She says, like many of her classmates, that apart from the reasonable price, she applied to train here as the foundation had made a name for itself for the quality of coaching it offers.
“Our alumni group isn’t as active as we would like it to be,” says Puttasomegowda, but old students do come back to train younger candidates if they can, and the foundation even organises interactions with senior bureaucrats. Most recently, the foundation set up an endowment scholarship for rural meritorious students from economically weak backgrounds, to help them pursue higher studies.