NAGAPATTINAM: The shamiana-roofed portico, cracker-littered narrow street and a huge banner of a bespectacled girl by the side would have meant anything for a non-descript Panchayat of Aivanallur, with its tar road punctuated by scotching red earth. But on Saturday, all of this meant festivities thrown by paternal grandparents for their visiting granddaughter, who had secured the 36th rank at the Civil Services Examinations, 2008, conducted by the Union Public Service Commission.
For the 22-year-old Shanmuga Priya it was a moment to rejoice. To have secured third place among those who had cleared civil services exam 2009 from the State in her maiden attempt is no mean feat.
“I began my preparations immediately after my graduation,” says Shanmuga Priya, a B.Tech. Pharma graduate from Anna University, who had passed out in May 2008. With a natural inclination for science and linguistic affiliation towards Tamil, Botany and Tamil Literature seemed to be the natural choice for optional subjects. “Botany is considered to be a non-scoring option. But, I never went by trends and believed that hard work would pay ultimately,” says Ms. Priya.
For her, this feat appears to be a culmination of her past achievements of a State-level third rank holder in History in standard X and university first in graduation.
A stint with the NCC during her college gave her a taste for services, says she. All through her conversation, Ms. Priya was lavish in her gratitude for Manidha Neyam IAS/IPS free Coaching Centre in Chennai for mentoring her dream. She gushes over the dedication of its chairperson Saidhai Duraiswamy who took the effort to place a separate teacher to coach Shanmuga Priya and another student — the only two students with Botany as an optional subject.
“It takes a lot to offer free coaching and boarding for civil services aspirants. At Manidha Neyam, our needs were taken care of — right from nutritious food to mental health — and our only job was to study,” says Ms.Priya, who joined the institute after she was screened for coaching through an entrance examination conducted by the institute in August 2008.
“The interview was stress-free after being put through several mock-interviews. The panel ended up discussing issues rather than questioning me,” says Ms.Priya.
Number of hours of study do not count, it is the quality of work and understanding of the subject that makes the difference, says Ms.Priya. With a reticence that belies her achievement, this would-be bureaucrat proposes to make a qualitative difference wherever she gets posted.