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Determined climb to the top
AIM FOR the stars and you are sure to reach the treetop, might be a well-heard saying. But for Ashwathy, it just worked the other way round. She aimed to be on the final list of the Civil Services examination, but her dedication and perseverance helped her achieve much more.
Ashwathy Sivadasan Nair was ranked first among women in South India and All India third in the recently announced IAS results. "I found it hard to believe when I was informed about the results. Making it to the final list was the top proirity for me, but I am thrilled with what I have achieved."
Born and brought up in Thiruvananthapuram, Ashwathy chose to pursue her higher studies in Chennai and joined the Madras Christian College. After completing M.A. Economics, she did her M.Phil in Energy Economics. Soon after her graduation in July 2001, she went back to Thiruvananthapuram to prepare for the IAS exams. "It took me 10 months of dedicated study before I took my preliminary exams in May 2002. Once I learnt that I was selected for the main exam, I just wanted to make it to the final somehow." She joined the Centre for Career and General Studies in Thiruvananthapuram to complement her preparations.
"There is a limit to how much you can learn on your own and the institutes provide right guidance and exposure. The advantage of enrolling into an institute is that you get to meet fellow aspirants and during the training process, you can figure out where you stand. People think it is mandatory to go to Delhi for proper preparation. But I think that what matters most is hard work."
Ashwathy feels that interview is one of the imporant part of the examination process, even though it may account for just 300 marks.
"The interview is where they meet you in person and look for qualities such as honesty, integrity and confidence. Moreover, interviewers go through the bio-data and ask only relevant questions."
She says that a series of mock interviews and tests conducted by her institute helped her identify her negative points and overcome them. "These mock interviews are like samples, but you have to be prepared for any kind of question. The interview is the most unexpected part. The interviewers gave me a couple of hypothetical situations and asked me to find solutions. Also they asked questions about Malayalam literature as it was one of my electives."
Being the first person in her family to become an IAS officer, Ashwathy feels that her parents are her major strength. "They gave me enough confidence. Since it is one of the most competitive exams where the vacancies are very few, they also prepared me for the worst."
Music, especially Carnatic music is this achiever's passion. "I also enjoy reading books, especially Malayalam literature. As far as reading English books is concerned, I have not gone beyond Eric Seagal," she says frankly.
What would this aspirant be doing if not for IAS? "Well, had I not been selected, I would have surely given it a second chance and if that also did not click, I would have become a lecturer." She also owes a lot to her college and feels that she has learnt some great lessons in life there. "If you are looking for something more than just bookish knowledge, the MCC is one of the best places to be in."
Now, Ashwathy looks forward to her training in Mussouri. After a year's training and completing a period of temporary posting, Ashwathy will take up the post of an officer.
Finally, her dreams have come true. "It might take almost a year of preparation and another two years of training, but at the end, it is worth the effort," says Ashwathy.
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