Fighting all odds, 21-year-old Ansar Ahamad Shaikh, the son of an autorickshaw driver from Jalna’s Shedgaon village, has managed to crack the tough UPSC exam in his first attempt, securing an All-India Rank 361. The Bachelor of Arts, political science graduate from Pune’s Fergusson College said he came to the city to pursue his degree in Arts and focus on his UPSC preparations.
Forced to change his name to a Hindu surname in order to get accommodation and food in the city without facing any discrimination, Shaikh said he will proudly say his real name now. “I remember when I went to look for a PG accommodation, my friends who were Hindus got rooms but I was refused. So the next time, I said that my name was Shubham, which was actually my friend’s name. Now I don’t have to hide my real name,” said Shaikh.
His eyes swells with tears when he remembers the difficult circumstances he faced in his life. “My father has three wives, my mom is the second. In my family, education wasn’t so important. My younger brother dropped out of school and my two sisters were married off at an early age and didn’t study much. When I called home and told them that I cracked UPSC and in all likelihood will be an IAS officer, they were shell shocked,” said Shaikh, adding after a small celebration with friends, he is headed home for bigger a celebration.
Asked about his preparations, Shaikh said there is no shortcut to success. A topper all throughout school and college except Std X where his scores dipped a bit, he said he prepared for 10-12 hours at a stretch for 3 years without a break. “I think I would tell students to question themselves, Why do they want to be in the system? Once they have answered this question, the path will get clear,” he said. Having faced religious discrimination, all his life, Shaikh said that promoting Hindu-Muslim unity and bridging disparity is one area that he would like to work on.
Meanwhile at Unique Academy where Shaikh studied, celebrations were on in full swing as 45 candidates emerged victorious. Shaikh’s teacher, Rahul Tukaram Pandve (30) also cracked the UPSC, securing All India Rank 200. Pandve who stood seventh in the state worked as a teacher at the academy. A MBA degree holder from IIM Calcutta, Pandve gave up his corporate job for civil services preparations.