Jammu and Kashmir’s Athar Aamir ul Shafi Khan was ranked second in the 2015 national civil services exam. Khan had aspired for a top slot after becoming the youngest IAS officer from the state at the age of 22 last year.
Not satisfied with the 560 ranking in the 2014 exam conducted by the UPSC, he gave a shot at it again this year — and achieved an almost improbable feat of cracking the demanding civil services test twice in a row.
Khan is a graduate from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Mandi, Himachal Pradesh. He cracked the civil services exam at 22, the year he completed his BTech. Though a few offers from multinational companies came his way, he chose the IAS instead.
From a modest village in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district, Khan has the distinction of cracking all professional exams he took, whether it was the All-India Engineering Entrance Exam or the pre-medical entrance tests. Before IIT, he had joined a medical college for a while.
He spoke to Hindustan Times some time ago. Excerpts
What did it take to be an achiever?
The desire to do better in life, the will to work hard and the support of my parents have helped me achieve my aim. My father is a lecturer and my mother a homemaker. I am grateful to my teachers and friends for their guidance and support.
Who is your inspiration, and why?
My biggest inspiration is my grandfather. His hard work, passion and enthusiasm have been a great source of motivation for me.
What’s your next goal?
I will keep working hard and serve the country to the best of my ability as a civil servant. In the last year of my BTech, I was very clear that this is what I wanted to do. I would have been paid better in an MNC but money is the last motivation for me. The IAS comes with roles and responsibilities that can actually change the lives of people.
Why is it the best time to be young in India?
India today is an India of possibilities. Being young today means being a part of the huge transformation that this country is going through.
How can the youth be a change-maker?
The youth are the heart and soul of a nation. With their energy and vigour, they can act as catalysts of change and bring in a long-lasting transformation that has more impact.