Dreams are Built one Step a Day (and may take decades)- By Nagarajan M (District Collector at Aravalli District, Gujarat)

I joined as District Collector and District Magistrate at Aravalli District(HQ-Modasa), Gujarat. After covering Smart Villages and Smart Cities this tenure will provide me an opportunity to lead one of the newly formed districts of Gujarat.

It all started with a simple question about who is the biggest person in government. My father replied that its the District Collector. From then on the dream to be a Collector burned deep inside for the next 25 years.

The journey was never straight. Twists, turns, ups and downs made the journey memorable and meaningful. I had lived the dream for all these years meditating the idea, visioning the goal, dedicating small and big steps everyday. Letting the dream define you, your life, your personality and even your life purpose. Such is the power of dreams.

One thing about being an IAS aspirant is it brings in high expectations from all those around and rouses interest and curiosity. The mere aspiration makes you different and invites judgements and predictions.

As luck would have it i cleared Railway Recruitment Board (RRB) Exam and was selected to be a Ticket Collector (TC). Immediately after my Class 12, I joined as a TC in Southern Railways. The job taught me many things about managing oneself, dealing with people and balancing the letter and spirit of law.

Meanwhile I completed my graduation in distance mode. Started efforts earnestly to prepare for my dream of becoming District Collector. It was tough working full time and preparing for the mother of all competitive exams - the UPSC Civil Services Exam.

After 6.5 years in Railways I was selected as Section Officer (Commercial Audit) by Staff Selection Commission (2004) with an All India Rank -12. Meanwhile the mission to crack IAS Exam continued. 

In the next year (2005) i was selected as Manager in Reserve Bank of India and was posted at Mumbai. This job is like the IAS of the financial sector offered tremendous opportunities for growth and development . However I was not able to forget the dream of IAS.

I kept trying again. In 2007 i cleared Mains exam and was called for Interview but was not selected. Nevertheless I had made up my mind to put in one last effort one more time. In 2008 i cleared mains and interview and achieved All India Rank - 225. I joined IAS training in Aug 2009.

The Civil Services offers a platform to make a bigger impact on society. Its a challenge and an opportunity. The beginning of this tenure marks the culmination of a dream that became a reality after two decades not just for me but for my parents, family and friends.
Nagarjan M (IAS officer)
(District Collector at Aravalli District, Gujarat)