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Hard won, with generational difference

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Role models: Chief Secretary K.J. Mathew and T. Mithra, 10th rank holder in the Civil Services Examination, oblige autograph-seekers at a personality development camp for children organised by the Kesari Memorial Journalists’ Trust in the city on Saturday.
Role models: Chief Secretary K.J. Mathew and T. Mithra, 10th rank holder in the Civil Services Examination, oblige autograph-seekers at a personality development camp for children organised by the Kesari Memorial Journalists’ Trust in the city on Saturday.

Staff Reporter

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: It may have been a victory tinged with sadness for T. Mithra as her success in the Civil Services Examination trailed the untimely death of her parents. But the 10th rank holder certainly had it a lot easier than K.J. Mathew, Chief Secretary, when it came to pursuing her IAS dream.

So when the two met at a personality development camp for children organised by the Kesari Memorial Journalist’s Trust in the city on Saturday, Mr. Mathew could not help but recall the hardship he had to undergo as a student hailing from a humble background to scale the pinnacle of success.

“My mother used to scold me for reading late into the night, as I would exhaust all the kerosene in the lamp,” he said.

Mr. Mathew, a postgraduate in English language and literature from St. Thomas College, Pala, had to walk five kilometres every day to reach his school. “At school, teachers used to chide me for reading books other than the ones meant for academic study. So, I utilised the time spent to commute for reading,” he said. “This gradually developed into a habit,” said the Chief Secretary admitting that his priority during his student days was to get a job than to get into the civil services. “The desire to become an IAS officer came to me at a later stage while working as an English teacher,” he told the students.

However, the Chief Secretary was of the view that education alone could not be regarded as an indicator of success in life. “Education is essential. But it is not necessarily an indicator of what you will achieve. There are people who have succeeded in life without any formal education.”

Mr. Mathew urged the participants to develop a voracious reading habit. “Reading enriches and expands the horizons of your mind. There is no substitute for reading good books,” he said.

Sense of service

The Chief Secretary had a word of advice to Ms. Mithra: “Your passion for this job should be driven by a sense of service to the people, not by profitability or market share.”

Ms. Mithra, who spoke to the participants, explained how her personal tragedy had strengthened her resolve to face the challenges of life with poise and equanimity. “How you react to various situations in life is going to be a crucial part of your personality,” she said. She lost her mother last July during the preliminary examination, while her father passed away days before the results were declared.

Ms. Mithra, a postgraduate in English language and literature from All Saints College here, attributes her success to her systematic hard work over a year and a half. “Identify your strengths and work hard with self-consciousness and awareness. You will realise your dream,” she said.

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