Interview with Amrit Ruturaj, young IAS Officer

He is one of the youngest Civil Servants of our state. He continues to inspire his friends and juniors to join the prestigious services and enter into public service. He studied at historic Ravenshaw, prestigious JNU and cracked the toughest examination in the world without taking any coaching. He has been a Ravenshaw Gold Medalist. 
Shri Amrit Ruturaj shares his fascinating journey from Ravenshaw and JNU to IAS with our Senior Editor Shri Kamala Kanta Dash. 
OD: Welcome to Odisha Diary. Congratulations on your inspiring success. Tell us something about yourself?
AR: First of all I extend my thanks to the entire team of Odisha Diary for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts. I am Amrit Ruturaj, 23 years of age, just joined Odisha cadre after undergoing training at the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie. 
I got into IAS in 2015 and have been allotted home cadre. I was born in Umerkote in Nabarangapur district and now I am settled in Cuttack. I have lived in many remote districts of Odisha like Koraput, Malkangiri and Gajapati etc and I am a passionate admirer of Odia culture and literature.
OD: You have been a bright student from the very beginning. We would like you to share your educational journey with us?  
AR: I completed my 10th from Jajpur Zilla School in 2007. Then I did 10+2 in Science from Ravenshaw Jr. College. I shifted my track and got enrolled in Political Science in Ravenshaw University for my graduation (UG). I did my Masters in International Relations from School of International Studies (SIS) JNU, New Delhi and I got into IAS while pursuing my MPhil at SIS.
OD: Your parents and family have been your support and inspiration. Would you like to share a bit more about your parents and family? 
AR: Yes. Undoubtedly they have been my strength, support and inspiration. My father is an Odisha Administrative Service (OAS) officer presently posted at the State Transport Authority. My mother is a homemaker. My sister is doing her graduation in history from Ravenshaw University.
OD: We all get inspired to grow in life. Who inspired you in early life? 
AR: Unlike many, my early inspirations have been situations and circumstances rather than any particular human being in history. The gaps in service delivery, access to basic minimum needs and the want of opportunity in the remote corners of KBK districts have always driven me to contemplate a career in civil services. The opportunity to bring some meaningful changes in their life has inspired me to make this world a better place to live in.
OD: You studied at the historic Ravenshaw University? How the university and Department of Political Science helped you in your preparation for Civil Services? 
AR: Ravenshaw laid down the foundation stone of my preparation for civil services. My teachers at the Department of Political were very supportive and encouraged me to diligently prepare for the civil services. It strengthened my understanding in political science and most importantly it provided a homely atmosphere where I began serious preparation for the civil services. I did well in the examinations and received a Gold Medal for being the topper in my batch. 
OD: After Ravenshaw you joined JNU, a globally recognized university for its rigour in academics and research? How did JNU contribute to your life and preparation for Civil Services? 
AR: JNU taught me diverse values of life like gender justice, social justice, openness of ideas, humanism etc. to make me a matured and sensitive human being. This is the place where a student from an underprivileged background and from the remotest corner of the country is an equal, who can walk, study and debate confidently with everyone without any iota of inferiority. This is where all the competing identities melt into the pot of humanism and everyone cherishes dreams. I built many lifelong friendships at JNU and got another family in the form of Odisha Sanskrutika Parishad (OSP). This is where I also seriously focused on the Civil Services and the atmosphere of ‘knowledge sharing’ helped me a lot. 
OD: JNU of late has been a part of the national debates for all the wrong reasons. Any comment on what’s happening in the name of JNU? 
AR: The entire incident was pretty disturbing for most of us. Trust me there cannot be any straight forward answer for that. Freedom of expression should be synchronized with respect for the place which grants you that freedom. The idea of JNU is very much ingrained in the idea of India where the mind is without fear and the head is held high and that idea is somehow impaired when Afzal Guru and Mahisasura are brought to the forefront as great figures.
OD: Let’s come to the issue of preparation. Civil Services Examination is arguably the toughest examination in the world given the wide range of subjects one needs to study and the sheer number of people who apply and compete. Take us through your preparation strategy? 
AR: I made self-preparation for the civil services and internet was an essential part as I didn’t go to any coaching. I tried to figure out some basic books for general studies which are easily available in most of the places and in Delhi I collected few photocopied materials of coaching centres to fill the gaps. I was a regular reader of The Hindu and current affairs of Vision IAS institute. For prelims in-depth study and multiple revision hold the key as the margin of error is pretty less. One should pick standard books and revise them multiple times instead of going for multiple books for the same subject.
For the written examination smart work matters the most. Optional remains the key so I did prepare political science diligently. Essay and ethics don’t require any specialized preparation and I tried to link my main preparation and knowledge to write these two papers. In ethics I tried to gather online materials by looking into the syllabus and developed a systematic approach for case studies. That involved interlinking of commonsense, some procedural knowledge and situational problem solving aptitude.
I used to prepare notes from the Hindu newspaper which came handy. For other papers I read standard prescribed books. I used to follow websites like the Mrunal and Insights on India etc which were extremely useful. For interview I read my detailed application form carefully, tried to form informed opinion on ongoing issues and made sure that I remained calm and confident. I never attended any test series or mock interviews. In interviews psychological quotient is as important as the knowledge quotient. 
OD: People believe that coaching plays an important role in preparation as it creates a community, helps cover the syllabus and keeps the aspirant engaged through tests and mock tests. Why didn’t you opt for coaching?   
AR: I didn’t take any coaching from any institute. I only subscribed the Main modules of GK Today which used to supply handy notes on topics of Main which was useful. My optional was Political Science and preparation during Ravenshaw and JNU days were enough to cover the syllabus of General Studies and the optional. 
OD: What would be your advice for aspiring Civil Servants?
AR: This exam is not the monster which one cannot defeat. I believe perseverance is the key. You shouldn’t get demotivated ever. Luck plays a very vital role in this exam which one has to keep in mind and it’s not a bad idea at all to sit for other exams and have your Plan B ready. Once you determine to appear for it then don’t be in doldrums and your syllabus and previous year questions are your friends, philosopher and guide. There’s no hidden key to clear the exam except smart work and a tinge of luck. But people with indomitable spirit can be tamed down by luck once and again. Remember it’s a battlefield and you are Arjuna, the best warrior.
OD: In Odisha what should be done to encourage students to prepare for Civil Services? 
AR: Odisha needs huge improvement in its university education system to retain talents in the state for higher education. Then only it will be possible to have a competitive atmosphere in the state. Internet has helped the knowledge barriers to bridge and it’s possible now to prepare civil services from different pockets of India and actually crack it.
OD: What’s your future dream for Odisha? 
AR: My dream is to contribute to make Odisha great and glorious again for which the entire nation will acknowledge and applaud. I refuse to accept the allegations that Odia people are not industrious and are mostly laid back. I want to see resurgent sense of Utkaliyata among all Odias to make this state rich, prosperous and happy. Celebration of our identity and culture coupled with transformation in socio-economic sector are truly my twin dreams which I would like to see happening in near future. 
OD: Do you have any message for our readers? 
AR: Odisha Diary is a fantastic online portal to keep a track on what’s happening in Odisha. It’s extremely useful for those who are staying outside. It is also useful for students preparing for competitive examinations like the Civil Services. I would like to congratulate the entire team of Odisha Diary for their commitment to the state, hard-work and perseverance. 
Note: This interview is part of Odisha Diary’s initiative to reach out to young minds of Odisha to celebrate the forthcoming International Youth Day on 12 August 2016.