The satisfaction of achieving a dream that one has nurtured since childhood is something special.
24-year-old Deshal Dan, the UPSC 2017 topper, experienced this joy when he cleared the examination. His efforts are even more applaudable because this was his first attempt, and he gave the examination without any formal training.
Originally from the Sumaliyai village of Jaisalmer, Deshal had a rather humble start. His father Kushaldan Charan is a tea-stall owner and has faced financial problems for most of his life.
Deshal is a BTech graduate from IIIT-Jabalpur and only the second person in his family, which also includes seven siblings, to be educated.
In this exclusive interview with The Better India, Deshal speaks about his motivation to appear for the examination, a very personal loss that instead of pulling him down, made him work harder, his journey from being the son of a tea stall owner to a UPSC exam topper, and the role of an IAS officer.
Why did Deshal choose civil service?
Speaking about an incident that both changed him and gave him strength, he says, “My elder brother served in the Indian Navy for almost eight years. He was posted on the INS Sindhurakshak submarine. Unfortunately, my brother laid down his life in an accident that occurred on-board the submarine.”
Deshal was in Class 10 when this incident took place. He goes to say, “I had heard several stories from him about the Indian Navy.”
“He spoke so highly of being in service and would often tell me to follow suit; either join the armed forces or the administrative service.”
Inspired by his brother, Deshal decided to appear for the civil services examination. “All I wanted was to attempt the examination; the outcome was not something I was stressing about,” he says.
The son of a tea-stall owner
Speaking about how he comes from a family of very modest means, he says, “My family had land, but there was not much we could do with it and were hardly able to grow anything significant.
That led to my father starting a tea stall in the year 1989, even before my birth. That coupled with one or two crops a year is what brought in our family income. My older brother also joined him at the tea stall, but I always knew that I wanted more,” he says.
He goes to say, “Neither of my parents is educated, and even my eldest brother did not choose to get educated and instead, started working from a very young age.”
“Only me and my younger brother have completed our education.”
When asked what their reaction to his achievement has been, he says with utmost honesty, “While they are not aware of what I have managed to achieve, they are proud and what makes them take note is the respect that they see others giving me.”
According to Deshal’s father, being an IAS officer, was something beyond their reach. He says, “he would often tell me that what I was aspiring to become was something beyond my reach. He also often asked me why I was working so hard for the unachievable.”
It was Deshal’s sheer passion and determination which saw him through. “If I hadn’t believed in myself I would have also been in the village engaged in agriculture and allied work.”
Making IAS officers accessible
“I will never forget my roots, and that is my biggest strength. I have seen and experienced the struggle first-hand, and I can truly say that I understand what needs to be done. Unfortunately, with elitism comes complacency and that is something I will always strive to stay away from,” he says with conviction.
Deshal says that rather than sitting on a high horse, it is of paramount importance for officers to make themselves available.
People in should be able to approach an IAS officer and seek a solution to their problems, at all times. These are the qualities that make an officer stand apart.
“We must never forget that we are ‘civil servants’ and are here to serve the people first—it is time to start living up to that,” he concludes.
As Deshal embarks upon this new phase in his life, we at The Better India wish him well and hope that he continues to uphold his principles.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)