To see one self as an Indian Administrative Service officer continues to be the dream of so many people.
Mr. Ayush Prasad is one of those who had realized his dream with an amazing rank of All India 24 in the UPSC civil services exam 2014. Coming from a family of Civil Servants with his mother Mrs.Amita Prasad being an IAS officer and his father Mr. Ashit Mohan Prasad working as the additional DGP, Intelligence Dept. He considers himself to be lucky for having born in a family which can afford to educate their children for there are millions of children who can’t go to school as their parents cannot afford it. In this interview, he talks about his education, exam preparation and career as a budding IAS officer.
Hi Ayush! Can you please tell us about yourself?
Hi, I am Ayush Prasad. I hail from Patna, Bihar. Both my parents are civil servants. I had completed Bachelors degree in Engineering from Manipal Institute of Technology in 2010. Worked with SBI and TCS. Then went to Young India Fellowship from Ashoka University. Now, I am working as the Assistant Commissioner/Sub-Divisional Magistrate & Collector with the Govt. of Maharashtra. I consider myself to be very lucky for having born in a family that has awareness of the importance of education and can afford to educate their children. There are millions of children out there who cannot go to school as their parents cannot afford the fee. So, whatever I have been able to do so far, it is because of this privilege.
You had secured an All India Rank 24 in UPSC EXAM, 2014. How did you go about the preparation?
(Smiles!) Well, I had attempted a lot of other competitive exams too. I had never signed up for any coaching classes. I had prepared for all the exams at my pace. I had first checked the syllabus for the exam, then searched on what is expected of me for the exam and analyzed how I want to prepare. I had laid out a schedule for myself. I had first prepared all the topics that I need to cover and practiced as many questions as I could. Then, I went on taking numerous online tests to get an idea of where I stand in terms of my preparation. I had organized my study time carefully. I had prepared for bank exams, GATE and a few other exams. I have cracked all the exams with a good rank. Preparing for those exams also helped me for UPSC exam.
What aspect of your preparation do you think has worked out well for you?
It is important to know the syllabus completely and understand what is needed. With this information in hand the key thing is practice. Practice ample questions until you get thorough with the process of solving the questions. I can’t stress enough on the importance of Practice tests. Take as many as possible. It is through these tests, you get to know where you have to work better and improve. This is something that I think had helped me do well not just in UPSC exam but all other competitive exams that I had attended.
You’ve had Liberal arts education through Young India Fellowship. How do you think it helped in realizing your dream?
It helped me a lot not just in getting through the exam but through the career even after that. I think it gave me a better understanding of world and life. The diverse perspective that we acquired collectively through the fellowship is extremely important for any individual. It was a great learning experience from the courses and fellows who are from different walks of life. During the fellowship, I got to work with an MP. I had met a lot of people, especially women in Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. Those talks taught me a lot about life, made me realize how the society works and how policies are implemented. Those talks had a transformational effect on me. These experiences in a way helped me shape my career.
How was your career as an IAS officer so far?
Well, I first had to undergo training for a year with all the other qualified candidates. The training was rigorous and the best part of it was the trainees. Each of them are talented, come from various places across India and had stories that are very inspiring. I am so happy for having been a part of such a collective group. I was later posted as Assistant Commissioner/Sub-Divisional Magistrate & Collector with the Govt. of Maharashtra. It was a privilege to be working in such close quarters with the government and taking part in implementing the policies and working directly with the people. It gives a great sense of pleasure and pride in implementing the policies that help people improve their lives. The satisfaction that I derive from such work is immeasurable.
Can you tell us about any leadership experiences you had during your time as assistant commissioner?
Let me be a bit clear about this. Most of the people have a misconception that IAS officers are directly involved in policy and decision making which is not completely true. We are more of mangers, who take over the policies decided by the government, implement them and make sure that these are being properly implemented. We don’t have a say as such in decision making. The leadership roles come in when you give the other officials the instructions as to how to go about the program implementation. But, if you are so much inclined towards shaping policies and implementing your ideas, NGO is a great sector you may pursue.
Finally, what do you have to say to those young people who are aspiring to become an IAS officer?
Firstly, know what you want to do. If you want to become an IAS officer, Great. Go ahead with the preparation. Know the syllabus, practice, practice and practice. Remember, IAS is a very competitive exam. So, it is always important to keep in mind that IAS is not the end of life. If you want to contribute to the society and if you can’t make it through UPSC exam, it is fine. There are so many other opportunities that you may pursue. As, I have already said you can get into social sector. Follow what your heart says. Whatever it is that you want to do in your life, put in your best efforts. All the best.