Saddled with jobs that demand time management to go with a meticulous work ethic, here are some IAS officers who pursue avocations that range from Carnatic music to wildlife photography and Chola epigraphy.

And, in many cases, these affairs of the heart are no longer amateur hobbies but rather professional pursuits.

“Since we do not live off our parallel pursuits, we are under no compulsion to make compromises. And, though we are amateurs, we strive to maintain high standards of professionalism,” said T.K. Ramachandran, Managing Director of Aavin and well-known Carnatic vocalist.

An IIT-ian with a Masters from Princeton University, Mr Ramachandran, who learnt music from his mother, took up singing seriously only during his graduate days.

“I give one concert a month though there are more performances during the December Margazhi season,” he said, while explaining that finding time for practice was not difficult if one can manage time well.

“I practise while travelling. You may become impatient when you see the red light at a signal. I make use of those moments to rehearse ragas. In vocal singing, listening to good music is as important as practising,” he said.

Mr. Ramachandran and other IAS officers are only following the footsteps of their predecessors, who belonged to the Indian Civil Service, which was later renamed as IAS. Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, who wrote Vande Mataram, was an ICS officer, while A.O. Hume, another ICS officer and one of the founders of the Congress, is hailed as the Father of Indian Ornithology.

In Tamil Nadu, former Chief Secretary T.V. Venkatraman is an authority on Tirumanthiram, a form of mystic poetry. Another officer, Iravatham Mahadevan, is an internationally renowned epigraphist.

Former Post Master General Theodore Bhaskaran is a well-known naturalist and film historian while V. Irai Anbu, who holds a double doctorate, has earned fame as a writer and motivator. In fact, Dr. Irai Anbu is a household name in Tamil Nadu and a role model for any IAS aspirant.

A powerful speaker and creative writer, this officer made a mark even during his initial days as an agriculture graduate.

There are women in this league too, such as V. Sivakami, an IAS officer, who has a rich contribution to Dalit literature to her credit and G. Thilagavathy, an IPS officer, is a prolific writer.

“The passion is always with us. But IAS aspirants from the middle class cannot afford to follow their heart like everyone else. They opt for a subject which will get them into civil service,” said M. Rajendran, Commissioner of Agriculture.

Though a student of English literature, he found his true calling in history, epigraphy, Chola temples and temple renovation. He has published two books on Chola and Pandiya epigraphy.

“Your circle of friends also plays a vital role in shaping your interest. I could actively involve myself in these activities only after I completed my district postings,” Mr. Rajendran said.

Tirunelveli Collector C. Samayamurthy, an Indian Forest Service officer before getting absorbed into IAS, is an ace photographer. He has held five photo exhibitions and produced five calendars featuring wildlife.

“I was fortunate to have my postings in districts with rich flora and fauna. I go out with my camera in the mornings and evenings when there is perfect lighting,” said Mr. Samayamurthy, a Zoology major with Botany as an ancillary subject.

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