– A factual Account by Suresh Pala
I am Suresh Pala, born 23 years ago. I am an Indian and belong to Daburavaripalli village in Ananthapuramu district which is in Andhra Pradesh. When I was much younger, I used to look at the trains wistfully and allow my mind to be transported to all kinds of mysterious places. Unfortunately, I could only do that in my mind for the chances to ride on a train were few and far between for a poor villager like me. Now, however I have qualified for the prestigious Indian Engineering Services (IES) and will start off serving my country in the Railways hallowed portals. This is a story of God’s grace, accompanied by the hard work of one person, and the full support of his family and his extended family, the Rural Development Trust (RDT). Allow me to tell you the story.
I belong to one of the backward communities, both in terms of education and finances. Our family comprises of 5 members, father, mother, two sons and a daughter. I am the eldest child in the family. My sister is studying general graduation in nearby town, while my younger brother is doing graduation in engineering with the help of Rural Development Trust’s (RDT) merit scholarship. RDT’s Special Education Programme is a boon for meritorious students of rural areas, where the students get full help from Intermediate (Pre-university) to post graduation.
My father is Shri Ramakrishna and has studied up to secondary school level. My mother, Shrimati Lakshmidevi, while very wise, is unfortunately illiterate. Both my parents are farmers and they have 6 acres dry land. They have to work very hard but for most of my childhood, they had to rely on the rain gods to favour them, which unfortunately was not the case most of the time, due to inconsistent rains they did not get proper income from land.
My parents had limited means to support the education of their children. Due to their inability to pay fee, I was admitted in Government Residential School at Lepakshi in Ananthapuramu district. From very early on I could sense that a good education played a very important part in anybody’s life and society treated one very differently when one had a solid education. Therefore, I decided from very early on to work hard, despite us children also having to help in the home and farm for our parents. In my class X exams, the first real test of a child in India, I was lucky enough to do very well, and scored 559 marks out of 600 (93% marks).
That was when I stood at a crossroads in my life – both about what I should study and where that study should be. Normally, Intermediate after the class X exams will provide you a good base for higher studies. Of course the better college we join, the better will be our future. Some of the private colleges have very good faculty and very good Intermediate courses. Unfortunately these colleges also charge for their reputation and my family and me were in no place to even dream of a place in the private colleges. Luckily, dreams can come true if dreamed about passionately enough! My dreams came true when I got in touch with my benefactor – the Rural Development Trust (RDT). The trust provided all the funds – from tuition fees to hostel fees – for me to go to Sri Chaitanya College, Vijayawada, a private college with an admirable reputation. In addition, they provided me with even pocket money and all the required material for my course!
Although the college was very far away from my village, over 400km, I put all thought of homesickness out of my mind as I again persevered during the Intermediate course. Here I scored 950/1000, translating into 95%. At the same time I sat for the EAMCET examination. The EAMCET is an entrance exam for admission into Engineering, Agriculture and Medical Common Entrance Test (EAMCET) is conducted by Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, Hyderabad on behalf of Andhra Pradesh State Council of Higher Education (APSCHE). This examination is the prerequisite for admission into various professional courses offered in University/ Private Colleges in the state of Andhra Pradesh, and once again I was lucky to get the 75th rank out of more than 300,000 students who took this exam. This ranking got me admission into the Electronic and Communications Engineering in Jawaharlal Technological University at Hyderabad.
Joining this prestigious University did a lot of good to me as I knew then that I could do anything provided my mind was fully into the program. Consequently, in the last year of my 4 year engineering graduation, I sat the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE), which is an all-India examination. GATE is conducted jointly by the Indian Institute of Science and seven Indian Institutes of Technology (Bombay, Delhi, Guwahati, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Madras and Roorkee) on behalf of the National Coordination Board which is a part of the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD), Government of India. Again I was fortunate here too, scoring 102nd rank at the All India Level. After graduating, I got a chance to go to the IIT, Bombay. That, for a person like me who so far had lived in villages and small towns was a real eye-opener. All my dreams of travel in my childhood came rushing back to me as I lived life in India’s commercial capital. That made me strengthen my desire to contribute to Indian society once again!
In the final year of my graduation, I had again, with the help of my benefactor RDT, joined a coaching centre which gives coaching to persons desirous of appearing in the Indian Engineering Services (IES). This is an examination which is held by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) under the aegis of the Government of India and recruits people who can perform the technical and executive functions of the Government on the engineering side.
The examination was held after I graduated. There were two streams to this exam – one was a written exam and the next was an oral/interview by a panel. I was fortunate to have cleared both and I couldn’t believe that I had come 16th at an All India Level! Naturally I chose the Indian railways although there were a host of other services I could have chosen. These included Defence, Power, and Telecom Ministry, but I was very clear about what I wanted – Railways.
Now I have been sent for training in Indian Railways Institute of Signal Engineering and Tele-Communications (IRISET). This is based in Secunderabad in Andhra Pradesh which is my home state. After that I will undergo field training and also institutional training in Hyderabad and various divisions of Railways such as Baroda, New Delhi and Guwahati. This training will last for 18 months. After that I will be posted in Signal and Communication Engineering of Indian Railways. One day I hope to be at the highest position in Indian Railways. It is indeed a miracle that one’s childhood dreams can come true provided one puts all efforts into it.
I guess my dreams are now very real. So I will have to set higher dreams for myself. What have been the things that have contributed to my dreams coming true? Is it the dedication to do what others found impossible? Is it the willingness to accept one’s fate and not be bogged down by that? Is it the pioneering nature to go where nobody from your family/village has gone before? I would say it’s all of these but would add luck to that. Imagine if I weren’t born in Ananthapuramu and had never heard of RDT. I am sure there are lots of youth like me across India who have the drive, the passion and the zeal but who have fallen short of their talent because nobody was willing to take a chance on them. I am very thankful for the RDT to have taken a chance on me. I vow that I will also seek to pay this forward by inspiring others and helping them achieve their goals.