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How I Made It To The IAS

Disclaimer: This is a grossly misleading account of how I, a non-existent guy, made it to a non-existent service. Kindly do not take it to heart or mind or soul. More importantly, do not hunt me down.

This article is a standalone piece on my path to IAS aka Indian Acronyms Service, a new pseudo-all-India service created and tailored to suit the needs of the present government. If you came here looking for the Indian Administrative Service as I’m sure most of you did, I have to tell you, this here is THE NEW BOMB.

Did you really think that the catchy acronymic names of government schemes with no-nonsense full forms grew on trees (GoT)? It is a result of our PACT (Persistent And Unprecedented Creative Talent) and STUFF (Sunny Times Under Football and Fun) and SHIT (Shit Has no Ixpansion Though), and not putting together random words as many think it to be.

So here goes.

Getting into IAS is a three-step process, a lot like other all India services, but not really.

STAGE 1: The Preliminary Test

Although the competition isn’t as high as it is for the Civil Services test, I’m sure once this article is out, the number of job applicants will increase by tenfold if not more. The syllabus is pretty much the same, which is everything under the sun. This is to ensure that even if somebody (more often than not) mistakes us to be an officer from the Administrative Service (which we usually tend to not rectify), we should be a convincing one at the least.

The exam itself is 50% luck, 50% hard work and 50% qualifying math which I’m naturally good at. I’d say another 25% is political correctness.

For eg: What is SCAM?

(a) Save Country from Amit Shah and Modi
(b) SP, Congress, Akhilesh and Mayawati
(c) Both (a) and (b)
(d) I support Jayalalithaa

Like I mentioned, this is not really an all-India service to be apolitical.

I owe a lot of my success to LUCK (Look Up online in Case of Konanders). For those who don’t know, it’s an app allowed in the exam hall, accessible only to those who voted Yes when MyGov asked: “Do you support demonetisation?”

STAGE 2: The Main Exam (written)

Pro-tip: Squeeze in at least one acronym in every sentence possible, the more it annoys the reader the better. Flaunt your creativity, even if you have none.

This is where they test your skills in balanced articulation, neutered criticism, ETC (Exemplary Tailwagging to Central policies). Diplomacy here is KEY (Kickass Excellence in Your test). Okay, I’ll stop that shit.

STAGE 3: The Personal Interview

This has to be the toughest stage, what with the mental pressure ET AL (Every Two minutes At the Loo). Present in my interview board was who I will call MPD or Mere Pyare Deshvasiyon’s hologram (naming him might get me in trouble).

I fainted out of sheer awe at the mere sight of it him.

“Would you like some nariyal juice?” A behind-the-scenes guy ran to me and asked.

“You mean nariyal paani, yes please,” I croaked. I knew the panel was impressed. Your degree of political correctness has to be breathtaking, even when your own breath isn’t working right.

“So tell us, since you fainted et al, why do you admire MPD?”

“Because he is a man with a big heart, sir.”

“Oh, so you have seen his MRI Scans?”

“Well, what do you think the 56-inch chest houses then? Aloo gobi? It’s his BIG heart. I’m sorry to say (SOS), but you sound anti-national (ANAL).” The rest of the panel turned to him, fuming. I thought my job was done.

“Here’s my Aadhaar, and here’s my screensaver” – it was Gomaatha, “I have a Jio Sim and I only use PayTM.”

“Tch tch, sorry we misunderstood.”

“Well. Back to you. What do you think of India’s demographic dividend and our rising population?”

“Sir, when the Army officers and BSF jawans are working day and night at Siachen so that the country sleeps peacefully at night, I do believe people should just sleep peacefully at night, instead of contributing their share to the population. It is the least we could do.”

“Actually…” the HR member cut in.

SHIT, I knew there had been a technical glitch. Wasn’t India’s population actually stabilizing? I’d fallen into their pit.

“… you do know that babies can be made during the daytime (DAD)?” Well, thank God.

“Sir, perhaps if we could make a policy to empower moral policing groups in the context of PvtDA, as it already is legalized in case of PDA, that’s when India would really shine, and that is how India will become digital.”

I knew I was almost there. The cherry on top coming up.

“Or we could play the National Anthem on loudspeakers in every locality every few hours, that’ll terrify them out of their wits, and beds.”

At this, the 56-inch torso-ed hologram got up on its legs, and said, “YOU. YOU will join my Kitchen Cabinet on Monday.”

“But sir, I don’t have a degree in political science, I can hardly cook.”

“I’m sure we can do something about that,” said the HR guy. He was already on the phone  – “Yes it’s me again, we’ll need another couple of certificates.”


Like I said, the interview is a little ‘unconventional’, but if you get through, you’re a quasi-public servant/IAS officer. You also get a complimentary lifetime Jio subscription.

I soon got married to a rich businessman’s daughter on account of my job title *wink*. She almost kicked me out when she found out what the ‘A’ stood for. Her mother was about to hurl my beloved miniature figurine of the UN-adjudged ‘The Most Charming PM in The World’ (kuch bhi) when I remembered and yelled, “The car – I still get the car! With the red beacon!”

“Oh! Well, why didn’t you say so in the first place? Come on in son,” my mother-in-law beckoned.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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