GUWAHATI: The pandemic forced Anila Gyadi to return home to East Kameng in Arunachal Pradesh from Delhi where she was studying at a coaching institute for the civil services exam. Her biggest concern was her studies. Then, she was introduced to a WhatsApp group, and most of her worries were over.
The group was created by an IAS officer, Pravimal Abhishek Polumatla, for aspirants like Gyadi. The young Pravimal is the District Magistrate of East Kameng that shares a border with China. Anila, who hails from district headquarters Seppa, says she was introduced to the DM by a relative.
"When I told him I had to return home from Delhi leaving behind my classes, he advised me to be a part of the group. He has been very helpful. He guides us by answering our queries and sharing articles. I will go to Delhi when the situation improves, but I will stay with his group," says Anila, a post-graduate in sociology.
Some 45 aspirants are a part of the WhatsApp group created two months ago. There are four mentors, who have cleared the civil services exam. Pravimal is from Hyderabad and had worked with the Union Ministry of Coal and Government of Puducherry before coming to Arunachal few months ago.
"The aspirants from the state don’t know much about how and what to prepare for civil services exam. I thought I would replicate something that I did in Hyderabad. I created this group, and as the word spread, the aspirants started joining it," says the 30-year-old, who cleared the exam in 2017. So far, he has been a part of six such WhatsApp groups.
The others were created for aspirants from Hyderabad and Maharashtra. Senior Andhra Pradesh IPS officer Mahesh Bhagwat was also involved in one such WhatsApp group. "The mentoring proved very successful. We have plans to organise a workshop once the pandemic is over," says Pravimal. He says he started mentoring from his personal experience. As An IIT-Madras pass-out, he struggled a lot with preparation for UPSC exam.
"There are many candidates with amazing capabilities who put in hard work, but they don’t have the right orientation. Cracking UPSC requires not just acquisition of knowledge, but also the ability to do multi-dimensional analysis and presenting one’s ideas cogently. This is as important as having knowledge in a subject matter. Many people cannot afford to go to coaching institutes or get professional guidance. So, we can tell them how they should go about it," Pravimal says.
Shashikanth Korravath, who cleared the exam twice and is now an Indian Railway Traffic Service officer, spoke very highly about a group where Pravimal and Bhagwat were mentors. "The mentors shared crisp notes. We tend to read hundreds of documents which are not required for the exam. The mentors simplified the process," says Korravath.
He says the mentors understand what UPSC requires and the demand of the exam. Their role in Prelims and Mains are minimal, but the mentoring is very helpful for the interview. Yashni Nagrajan is a mentor in the WhatsApp group created for the aspirants of Arunachal. She cleared the exam in 2017.
"Given the fact that this group was created recently, the returns will not be quick. I first interacted with him (Pravimal) after my selection. Sir has been very supportive. I have also set up the NIT Arunachal Pradesh Civil Service Club that has more than 125 students," says Yashni, who is serving as a manager in the RBI in Thiruvananthapuram and was mentored by Bhagwat.