Dev Karan has been working in the Prime Minister’s Office for the past 35 years. But the Group D employee possibly never imagined one day he would actually meet the Prime Minister — and share a few words with him. So when he got a call from the PMO a few days ago, inviting him and his son Rajesh Kumar for a brief meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it took him a while to believe it.
Dev Karan’s world changed last week when the UPSC results were announced. His son Rajesh Kumar had secured 578th rank, making him swell with pride. But it was the call from the PMO that was the icing on the cake.
As the father and son prepared to meet the PM on Wednesday, both were nervous. “My father had been in PMO for almost 35 years and it was the first time that he has been invited inside the office. He was very nervous but I could see the pride on his face when the PM asked me about my plans for the future. I told him that my father has been my inspiration,” said Rajesh, showing the picture of them with Modi that was tweeted by the PMO.
Their two-room government quarter in Delhi’s Laxmibai Nagar was filled with excitement as Karan asked his family members to switch to a television channel that was running shots of Modi congratulating their son.
For Rajesh, the only son among five siblings, this day did not come easy. It took loads of hard work, patience and persistence to get there. He said his sisters too played a crucial role — they couldn’t study much and had to be married off. He said he wanted to prove a point by studying hard and rising in society
“As the tradition goes in Rajasthan, we marry off children at an early age. And due to financial constraints, two of his sisters grew up with me in the village while two stayed here. The youngest did graduation from DU (correspondence) and soon went to her in-laws. Rajesh always wanted them to study but he was very young to take these decisions,” said Bawri Devi, his mother.
Another reason for his success, Rajesh said, was his father who always motivated him to join government job.
Asked about his dedication, Rajesh’s younger sister Laxmi said the family always wondered why he used to have dinner late for almost a month while preparing for the exam. “Now he tells us that it was because of the wedding drums and noises from the next-door marriage hall. He would eat only when the baraat came so that no time was wasted. He also stopped eating curd as he believed it makes you sleepy,” she said.
Father Karan said, “If we talk while he is studying, he simply lifts his chair and goes to the other room.” His sister added, “As the house is small and there are so many children he used to go to the public library but never said anything to us.”
His mother said she now wanted him to get married. “We never said anything to him but whenever I returned from my brother’s house I would ask him to marry as there was family pressure. My brother would say “Collector banana hai kya itna padha ke’. Then the day his result was announced, my brother asked me to tell him that he has become a collector,” she said.
Rajesh, who finished school from Kendriyala Vidyalaya INA, pursued engineering from IET College Alwar for which he took an education loan. He paid off the loan by working in a private sector bank but his aim was IAS. Meanwhile, he cleared his State Service Commission exam and was offered jobs in IB, ICAR and DoPT. He took up the job of an assistant with the welfare department of DoPT.
But he said would take the UPSC exam again. “I did not get a good rank to become an IAS. I will sit again,” he said, determination in his eyes.