From corporate to civil services, with a mission to serve the nation

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Kolkata: Thirty-year-old Azar Zia was leading a life that he had dreamt of – a cushy corporate job and a handsome salary that took care of all his expenses. However, three years into the corporate madness and he realized that despite having achieved all that he had aspired for, something was missing. A little introspection made him realize that civil service was his true calling.

Zia, a resident of Kolkata’s Beniapukur locality, one of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) 2017 cracker, bagged the 97 position, this year. The St James alumnus, while speaking to eNewsroom, from New Delhi, said, “Being a convent education child, my aspirations were very different. I never wanted to take up civil services as my career. Corporate was my true calling, I had believed, back them. As a consequence, after my completing my engineering from Kolkata, I opted to do my MBA from Delhi University Faculty of Management Studies. Following which, I took up the job that I had always wanted to do. But three years into it I chose to hang my boots and make a career in civil services, as the spirit of serving my nation is in my genes.” The young man does have a point, his father is retired West Bengal Civil Service (WBCS) officer and his uncles too are civil servants.

“My father always asked me to appear for civil service examinations, but I wasn’t really interested till I almost reached the fag end of my educational career. I was 28 years of age when I quit my job. My mother was extremely disappointed as she was very much interested in me settling down and here I was saying adieu to a very successful career. But then I was not happy with the way I was working. There was nothing to look forward to, socially, other than huge salary packages and designations,” recounts Zia.

He maintained that the decision of quitting and then devoting two years to train himself for the UPSC examination was a difficult call, as that meant surviving without a salary. However, he added that he had saved enough to help him float through the self-imposed lean phase.

“It took me three attempts to secure this position and a lot of hard work to crack the UPSC examination. However, I would like to add, that I never had a fixed routine. I studied according to my convenience, sometimes for as many as 12 hours and sometime as little as 2 hours, but each time that I studied, I ensured that I gave quality time to my books,” he revealed. He added that his passion to crack the UPSC made him leave his city Kolkata and make Delhi his base for UPSC preparation. Explaining the choices made, he said, “Kolkata still doesn’t have many UPSC aspirants. It could be because of the fact that the examinations are conducted in English and Hindi, an option that not many are comfortable with, so, most of the aspirants for civil services end up appearing for the WBCS examination. As a consequence there are not really good coaching centres for UPSC aspirants in Kolkata.”

However, realizing that the number of attempts for him to take was limited, he made a complete plan as to how he should go about realizing his dream. He appeared for an entrance examination of Hamdard Study Circle, New Delhi, an educational organization that helps students belonging to all five minority community prepare for the UPSC examination. “I shifted to Delhi as it’s a great place for UPSC aspirants. However, since I did my MBA from here itself, I was well aware of the challenges that students face while studying in Delhi. Power cuts and water are huge problems. Hence I opted for this study circle as it ensures that the environment is conducive enough for UPSC aspirants to study along with the coaching that was provided by them. It also has a great library which is open for 18 hours a day,” he explained.

He added that the fact that he is not very active on social media helped him in many ways. He said, “I never managed to develop an affinity for social media. I am not on Twitter and I can’t recall when I had last logged on to my Facebook account. So, I didn’t have this distraction to address while preparing for UPSC.”

On being asked if he had any plans, he replied that poverty alleviation and education are two areas that interest him and he would be working on these areas. The young lad when asked, if was aware of the fact that he was the second Muslim to clear UPSC from Bengal, he replied with immense pride, “I have always considered myself as an Indian first. I appeared for UPSC as I want to serve my country. Also, I presume, now the craze for UPSC is increasing in Bengal. As I mentioned earlier, choice of language (English and Hindi) made UPSC lose its appeal to the Bengali bhadralok. But things are changing, let’s not generalize things.”

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