Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Dil Se : Uday Kumar Working to improve lives of women, kids

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Achieving even one worthwhile dream is better than toying with many dicey  possibilities as one grows in life. Few people step out of their comfort zone to make a mark in entirely new fields.One such individual is Uday Kumar, IAS, District Collector of Nagarkurnool. In an interview with The Pioneer’s

Deepika Pasham, he goes down the memory lane and shares how he cleared the Civils in his third attempt without coaching by using his brother’s notes, helped scores of women set up livelihood units with help from banks, and worked with anganwadis to help underweight children gain weight.

Birth, schooling

I was born in Nizamabad. My schooling was mostly in Nizamabad and later I moved as my father, teacher in a government school, was transferred. After my sixth standard, I was in Navodaya School for two years. I was having hostel food. My mother felt that I was losing weight. So, I was then put in small private school, where I finished my schooling.

Higher education

I did my Intermediate in Vijayawada. I finished my Engineering from  Osmania University. Then I completed MBA from IIT, Khargpur.

IAS was not my dream

I come from a middle class family. I was never exposed to any IAS or IPS official. I just wanted to do Engineering from a good institution. I was scoring reasonable marks, so I got an opportunity for free IIT coaching. Still, I dropped the idea of doing IIT.

Jobs were mundane

After Engineering, I got into Infosys and worked for one and half years. During training, I liked how we were taught new stuff. But, when I was deployed on project work, it was mundane and general work that they were making me do.

BHEL experience

Then I thought of applying for MBA. IIMs were expensive — something like Rs 14 lakh or Rs 15 lakhs, so I got into Kharagpur IIT. During placements, companies were offering me consulting works. But BHEL was the only company which came with manufacturing job and offered me a job, placing me in Hyderabad. I joined BHEL but asked to be put on the shop floor.This floor means making little innovations and product changes. But they said nothing of that sort is available and they put me in management, industrial relations, and recruitment. I also looked after hospitals attached to BHEL.

Decisive moment

I do not remember the name, but the Union Secretary of India Heavy Industries, an IAS officer came and all EDs and GMs were reporting to him. This was the time I felt that I should get into the Civils. I started my preparation.

First, second and third attempt

This was in 2012 October-November, then I had free time at hand to prepare after office hours.In 2013, I flunked by 2 marks in Mains. I prepared again. I cleared and got into IPS because I never aimed for IAS. I was exhausted and thought I will not attempt for the third time.Then one day my senior called me up and asked me: What is your plan? Then, he motivated me to make another attempt. I finished the third attempt and joined the National Police Academy.

Interview

All the candidates who are in service and appear for interview will have questions framed around this thought of why you want to get out of this service. A person in uniform interviewed me.He could sympathize with us, but I had my responses to justify the service I will get into and defended the service I am in already. Since I have got decent marks, I got into IAS.

My sibling’s notes

I and my younger brother started preparing for the Civils at the same time. He had Anthropology background. He used to prepare notes for me. I did not attend coaching classes. He made notes for me from coaching studies. He is doing PhD now. I studied for Civils from his notes for examinations.

First posting

I was in Suryapet for nearly two years, including training and held special officer post in 2017.

Active child

I was not notorious. I was not annoying, but I was active at home and outside — at all extra-curricular activities.

Inspiration

My inspiration has been situational. I was inspired by my mother in one way because her parents expired when she was five or six years.  My mother and her family members were all girls, but they took care of themselves and got married into good families. Those were tough times to survive, but they did. So, she is an inspiration.

Happy moment

Nothing of that kind, but when work yields positive results, it is happiness. For instance, in Nagarkurnool there are many underweight children. So, constant efforts over months helped bring down the number by about 80%. We did this through supervisory feeding at Anganwadis. I used to conduct meetings and did it stage-wise. Initially we looked at the measurements and started feeding the children in front of teachers. We also monitored personally why certain child is losing weight.

Marriage

My marriage was an arranged one. My wife, Maheshwari, is a pilot, but yet to start her job. I stay with my family at Nagarkurnool. I spend most of quality time with them. Life after marriage has been happy. Luckily, I got an understanding wife.

Dealing with pressure

I do not take pressure from random things.If something can be avoided, I do it. I will think, take some time to do things.If something has to be done under time constraints, then I feel little pressured. But I finish the work quickly. I give freedom to my team members and ask them to execute things quickly, but I never put day-to-day pressure on them.

Hobbies/leisure

I play tennis. Wherever I have opportunity to use pool, I swim a lot.  Everyday either it is a small run, yoga or exercise. If play tennis too. I watch a lot of web series, movies. My favourite hero was previously Chiranjeevi. Now some new actors are my favourites.

Learning from dictionary

Schooling of course was in Telugu medium. During Intermediate, it was very basic. If we have to learn a language, we have to speak in that language and have good vocabulary. Every day I used to sit with The Hindu newspaper. In one small line of news, I would have known two words at least.That way, I built my vocabulary by looking at their meanings in dictionary and writing them down again and again. \

I would participate in group activities with broken English. I was bullied for my language deficiencies. But I always questioned the other person about what he did not know. If he is pointing out at me, he must also know something new.  

Politicians’ requests genuine

When it comes to politicians’ requests, their intent is genuine in 80% of the cases. For example, one of them will come up with land issue.Then there may be hundred complexities which are not politicians’ concerns. Another 20% will be about ‘do this, because we have come up’. Mostly I give them bits of advice on how it can be solved.  A few of them cannot be considered. I review and re-consider and tell them ‘this cannot work out now; let us see later’.

Plans for next five years

I always wanted to work in some tribal areas or remote areas. Anyway Nagarkurnool is the same now, so I enjoy the place.

Most satisfying work

One of the very interesting projects that I executed was setting up livelihood units in Ramagundam. It is important because it is a small town. We helped women entrepreneurs. Wherever technology was necessary, we did bring it in. Then there were bank linkages that we did. Basic training was provided. In a short span of time, around 130 or 140 units were set up. Their incomes went up five-fold in some cases.  The same way we want to develop Nagarkurnool soon.

I and my younger brother started preparing for the Civils at the same time. He had Anthropology background. He used to prepare notes for me. I did not attend coaching classes. He made notes for me from coaching studies. He is doing PhD now. I studied for Civils from his notes for examinations.

Rapid Fire

Describe yourself: I won’t give up

Nick name: It was chinni, now Uday

Favorite colour: White and Black

Favorite movie: 12 Angry Men

Favorite food: Not foodie, but I enjoy
sweets

Favorite destination: Alaska

Religious or spiritual: With my
meditation experiences I am spiritual.

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