City was stepping stone for over 70 aspirants who cracked the exam this year

For over 70 candidates who cleared the Civil Services Examination 2011, Chennai has been the stepping stone for Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration in Mussoorie, where the foundation course for fresh recruits is held.

Most of the successful students find the city of Chennai “slow” but reliable when it comes to achieving great goals in life. The 11 rank holder Neeraj Kumar Singh, who hails from Raipur in Chhattisgarh, used Chennai's facilities in his pursuit of bureaucratic excellence.

When he started preparing for the Civil Services exam two years ago in Chennai, his friends and family were happy for he was just 20 and had many more years before the ‘last attempt.' But Mr. Singh hit the target in his first attempt; he was determined not to spend years preparing in the event of his being unsuccessful. While becoming an IAS officer was not his childhood dream, he delved into preparations in Chennai's unfailing network for the civil services preparation.

Mr. Singh's decision to pursue the IAS aspiration was the culmination of a long-term plan to be exposed to different perspectives. “Choosing to pursue a humanities course at IIT-Madras known for its technical excellence was part of that too. By the end of fourth year, I was sure it is implementation where we go wrong, and I decided I wanted to be part of policy making and implementation,” says the young professional, who graduated from the institute last year and is now working as an economics consultant in New Delhi.

“As part of NSS work at IIT-Madras, we, a mixed group of B. Tech and Humanities students, went to villages, analysed problems scientifically and even gave demonstrations of solutions wherever possible. If I had studied in a college offering only a humanities course, the approach would have been very different,” he says. “And I liked Chennai; it is slightly slow but suits me,” he adds.

M. Sundaresh Babu, ranked 38, did B.Sc. from Agricultural College and Research Institute, Madurai. The city's contribution to this 26-year-old's success has been “immense.” Mentors, study material and vibrant facilities for information on the changing dynamics of the examination make Chennai unique, the native of Bodinayakkanur in Theni district says.

R. Ramachandran, 115 Rank, says the friends the city gave him, helped sustain his “spirit of perseverance, determination and hard work even after five attempts.” The city helped him actualise the inspiration he received from his father, who was the PA to the Collector of Dharmapuri. The commitment and determination of many IAS officers in the city has made them his role models, he adds.

For T. Sreejith, 506 rank, from the southernmost district in peninsular India, “Chennai is the hub of civil services preparation in South India.” Sreejith did his internship at The Hindu after his masters in Mass Communication from the University of Madras in 2004.

According to K. Sasikumar, 440 rank, Chennai's collective consciousness on empowerment of weaker sections of the society has contributed towards his resolve to fight against discrimination.

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