It was a case of being third time lucky for R. Kumaran, who has made it to the UPSC rank-list this year after two previous attempts at cracking the code ended in disappointment.

Hailing from a family with agrarian roots — his father Ramachandiran is a farmer in Perungalore village, Karikallampakkam near here — Mr. Kumaran works as an agricultural officer in the Puducherry government.

“It was quite a challenge in time management juggling work and preparations,” says Mr. Kumaran, who is married to Usha, a school teacher.

He would squeeze in time after work hours, on weekends or holidays. When his brain began to buzz, he would relax by turning to his favourite A.R. Rahman songs or even MGR’s philosophical numbers, he says.

On what kept him going through the lows of his two failed attempts, Mr. Kumaran says that he owes it to his friends, Chandru who is an IFS officer in Sri Lanka and his namesake who works as a Tahsildar here, for being a source of strength and encouragement.

Right from the time he made his first attempt in 2011 after he got his job, Mr. Kumaran has been preparing for a shot at the civil services on his own. In between clearing the prelims and appearing for the interview, he took training sessions at Shankar IAS Academy Chennai and later at the Manithaneyam IAS Academy, which even sponsored flight tickets and stay in Delhi for one-on-one mock interviews, a “great gesture for which I am ever thankful” as he says.

Mr. Kumaran has got a ranking of 689 in the UPSC list, which opens the door to the IPS or the IRS.

In another two months, he will be getting his orders indicating the services he qualified for. By September, he would get initiated on a two-year training programme. But, he does not see qualifying for the UPSC as the end of the road.

“I will be appearing next year too,” says Mr. Kumaran, who has set his sights on IAS or the IFS.

More In: Puducherry