Happy Birthday , immortal Rajesh Khanna

73 years back,  a baby boy Jatin Arora was born in Amritsar, Punjab. The year was 1942 and the date was 29th December. Jatin Arora was remamed Jatin Khanna when he was adopted by Chunnilal and Leelavati. In 1965 he won the United Producers All India Contest prevailing over 10000 competitors. The prize was a chance to become a Hero in the intensely competitive Hindi Film Industry. His illustrious predecessors were Dilip Kumar, Rajendra Kumar, Dev Anand, Shammi Kapoor, Raj Kapoor. Unbelievable that he overtook them in terms of popularity and adulation, as also in number of Hits. He is none other than superstar Rajesh Khanna

The 1st superstar’s hits.    Rajesh Khanna was lovingly called Kaka by all due to his baby face. He had as many as 74 Golden Jubilee Hits, 22 silver jubilee hits as well as 9 average hits, totalling an astonishing 105. Kaka had the maximum number of solo hero films in the history of Hindi films. He hardly acted in multi-hero movies. In 3 years he had as many as 17 consecutive super hit movies from 1969 to 1971, an unparalleled feat not been repeated thereafter. Is there any doubt that he is the first mega star and the 1st Superstar of Bollywood.

Kaka and his top heroine          His top heroine was Mumtaz. They had as many as 10 movies together out of which as many as 8 were super-duper platinum jubilee hits. “Gore rang pe na” is their most famous song together.  Mumtaz , herself a C survivor has said that she met Kaka when he was ailing and they discussed their fight against the dreaded disease. Of her memories of Kaka, she recalled him carrying her on snow in the movie “Roti”. She used to joke with him saying he had to carry a 100 kg sack on his shoulders for a week. The gallant Kaka had replied that she was not that heavy, though Mumtaz laughingly says she was never slim.

Kaka’s other 3 top heroines        Sharmila Tagore comes to mind. Can anyone ever forget “roop tera mastana”, the iconic song from the movie Aradhana which got Sharmila ji her one and only best actress award. The other movie of the loved duo which has to be mentioned has to be Amar Prem, which had Kaka’s most famous dialogue, “Pushpa, I hate tears.” Kaka and Asha Parekh too were a top pair and the songs, “yeh sham mastani” and “achcha toh hum chalet hain” come to mind immediately. The 3rd top heroine i would like to pick has to be Zeenat Aman, and the top 2 Kaka-Zeenat songs for me are “Hum dono do premi” and “Ik ajnabee haseena se”.

Kaka and 2 of his controversial relationships      Kaka 1st girlfriend was Anju Mahendru, who has been linked with the legendary Sir Gary Sobers as well. He however had a sudden break from her and reportedly to spite her took his baraat past her bungalow. The next relationship was with Dimple whom many say he married on the rebound. Interestingly he had purchased a bungalow called Dimple from Rajendra Kumar and had renamed it Aashirwad. Later he was to marry someone named Dimple. They were separated in the 80’s. Both of them were with him by his side when he was breathing his last.

Kaka and Kishore Kumar. The duo were made for each other. Kishore Kumar who was the highest paid singer even had a special clause in his contract that if he is signed for a Rajesh Khanna movie, he has to sing his songs, and if there are two heroes in the movie, he only will be Rajesh Khanna’s voice.  No need to say anything more than what Kaka himself says “Kishore kumar was the soul and i was the body”. Ironically Shakti Samamta had wanted Rafi Saab to sing Roop Tera Mastana and SD Burman prevailed upon him to give the song to Kishore Kumar. Since SD fell ill, RD completed the song. The rest is history.

Views of Amitabh Bachchan on Kaka      Superstar Amitabh Bachchan has tweeted “the word superstar was invented for him, and for me, it shall ever remain his, and no others. His generation and the generations that follow, shall never be able to describe or understand his phenomena”.

Unbelievable Examples of the phenomena        The kind of craze he invoked and the adulation he received was just amazing. Girls used to marry his photograph by cutting their fingers and applying the blood as sindoor. His car was covered with kisses from lipstick, female fans sent him letters written in blood and so on. The trend of wearing Guru shirts and belt on shirts was started by him. Public demand led to change of movie ending in 1 movie  as people could not bear to see him dyeing. A song sequence under Howrah bridge was cancelled as it was feared that so many fans would come to see him that the bridge itself would collapse. All this is unprecedented.

Kaka’s death      To the dismay of all, that dreaded disease took Kaka away on 18th July 2012. 9 lakh people attended his funeral and came from various places in India and abroad. As in his heydays there was lathi charge to disperse the crowd. Amitabh Bachchan later said that among his last words were “Its time, lets pack up”

Hey, wait a minute. Has Kaka left us. No, its his birthday today. Let us celebrate it. He is with us and will remain with us. He is an immortal.


Increasing Use of technology by police.

I personally know that Mumbai Police is pretty strict as regards towing of car is concerned. A couple of years back when my wife and I were returning after buying vegetables to where we had parked our car we saw it had vanished. We got a rude shock. A shopkeeper told us it has been towed away. We had to take an auto to the place where towed cars are kept. The officer in charge showed us the challan where it was written “double parking”. I paid Rs 300/- (Rs 100/- for wrong parking and Rs 200 for towing charges) and got my car back.

This incident of few years back came to my mind after reading in newspapers that a citizen friendly technology has been adopted by Mumbai Police. Traffic police have been given smart phones and an application has been downloaded whereby details of towed vehicles are put there. So if you find your car missing and you are not sure if it is stolen or towed away you can check the application and find out instantly. You need not get the shock we had. I understand Bangalore Police too has such an app.

Now let us have a look at some more recent initiatives whereby technology is being used by the police to adapt to changing times and before we do that let us address some basic questions.

Why Police is required at all            A State has certain sovereign functions such as defence, administration of justice, external affairs, collection of taxes and maintaining law and order. The Police therefore plays an important role. With changing times the role of the police has to be evolving too so as to keep up with rising expectations of the public, growing importance of media and increased sophistication of the crime doers.

Why Technology is required at all   Simple. Technology can make the jobs of police officers easier. It can help the citizen’s too in getting their problems, concerns and issues reached to the police faster so that effective steps can be taken.

Factor’s to be kept in mind before purchasing technology. Most important- Is it cost effective? How often the technology will be used. Obviously the more often and more frequently the technology is used the better it is for cost effectiveness. At the same time the maintenance cost has to be factored in as well.

A look at a New initiative in Maharashtra  The recently joined Director General of Police of Maharashtra has stated that the police force will be going digital. Police will now e-mail or whatsapp FIR copies to complainants on request. The idea is to make life easy for the citizens. In sensitive cases where the complainant does not want to reveal his identity then it will be kept secret.

Reactions.       Some police officers felt it will add to their long hours of work. Surely, that can’t be helped. Doesn’t a doctor too have long hours of work  and after that he/she has to update patient data etc. Most citizens have however welcomed this initiative and have stated that more publicity is required as many times due to ignorance of the public and overwork of police officers, FIR copy is not asked for or given. A former police officer turned noted activist offers a contra view. He says that this is against section 154 of Cr PC and instead of using technology, all FIR’s should be put on police website to prevent manipulation and antedating. I asked a couple of senior officers their opinion on the topic and they were clear that copy has to be given, and one should evolve with technology.

CCTV                        This is extremely important in modern trying times. Recently the experiment was carried out in Mumbai whereby CCTV Cameras have been placed at important areas of the city. Hopefully these will be helpful in stopping crimes. A few days back, in Mumbai, a man wielding a gun got into the SUV of a banker at a traffic signal, forced him to take him to a lonely area. He then tied him up, drove the car to an ATM and forced him to divulge his password and took out money. He then fled with the money, a chain, watch and cell phone. Using modern technology including CCTV he was caught within 72 hours.

Citizen’s portal in Odisha     In Odisha, a Citizen’s Portal has been launched whereby Citizen’s can file complaints online. The Chief Minister says this will especially help women and senior citizens who are hesitant to go to police stations. A feedback of performance can also be given. The services which can be availed through the citizen portal are issuance of character certificates, permission for taking out processions and rallies, issuance of FIR copies, permission for holding events and performances, permission for holding protests and strikes. Tenant verification, employee’s verification, registration of missing permissions and registration of lost property can also be done through the portal. Citizens can also track the status of their on-line registered complaints.

Advantages of such moves   Such type of quick delivery system benefits society at large and enhances the image of police. These new initiatives are helpful to people, particularly those living in remote areas.

What in future. Anything is possible. Let us think big. Maybe Unmanned Drones can help patrol in ways and areas police cannot. They can capture images of crime scenes as they are in progress, which will be of immense help in future court proceedings. Maybe Police can use Google glass to help patrol more effectively. They can use social media such as facebook and instagram to help solve crimes. It is also pertinent that technology helps rapid identification. For instance in USA the police have reached a level that officers can obtain biometric information from a person, usually a finger print and compare it with the criminal database of the FBI. Instant identity is known whether the person is a first time offender or has an arrest history. Similarly facial recognition tools help check the driving license history of a person if say he is stopped by traffic cops and has inadvertently forgotten his driving license.

Thanks for going through my random thoughts as a layman on technology and police.


Why compare a Dad/Mom and his/her son/daughter

Recently Amit Kumar ( Dada) celebrated 50 years of his singing in a memorable concert 50 golden years of Golden Voice. Dada started his singing career at 13 and at 63 still sings superbly. He has sung many evergreen songs and has some of the best ever solo songs and duets in Hindi film music history. His song “Bade achche lagte hain” is becoming more and more popular every year, though it was sung 40 years back.

Though Amit Dada has so many hits of his own, in his musical concert, every ½ an hour or so there are requests from the audience, “Sing Kishore dada song please”. During his recent show, he remarked jocularly, “Half my life has gone in comparision and in singing Baba’s songs, allow me to sing my songs today at least in my show”. Ultimately he did sing a few lines of his immortal Dad’s song “Pal pal dil ke paas” to make the audience ecstatic. In the same musical show, his younger brother Sumeet Ganguly too sang 2 of his Dada’s hit songs. Audience screamed “Kishore Kumar song”. Sumeet smiled and said, “I always sing Baba’s songs, let me sing Dada’s songs today”.

This led me to think that is it fair to compare a son with his legendary father if they are in the same profession especially if that someone is someone like Kishore Kumar. Universally it is accepted that there will never be another Kishore and no one like Kishore so isn’t it unfair to compare his son with him.

As an aside, let us think of Rohan Gavaskar  and Abhishek Bachchan. Is being the son of living legends Sunil Gavaskar and Amitabh Bachchan their fortune or otherwise. While it is definitely not their misfortune or bad luck, isn’t it being unfair on them, being subject to constant scrutiny and comparision.

I know you may possibly think that Abhishek Bachchan would maybe not have got what he has if he were not Amitabh Bachchan’s son. That probably gave him not only a headstart and comfortable entry but also a cushion when his films flopped.  So let’s leave him out and discuss briefly about  Rohan Gavaskar.

Now, there can be no doubt that the pressure on Rohan  must have been immense. Sunil Gavaskar is probably one of the finest batsman ever to play the lovely game of cricket. There must have been so much pressure on Rohan to live up to the famous surname. Otherwise he is a competent player in his own right. After all how many players have scored almost 7000 runs in 1st class cricket with more than 50 scores above 50 including 18 hundreds and an average of almost 45. Many cricketers will accept such a career happily. Yet, Rohan had to suffer throughout his career due to comparision with his legendary dad. Interestingly however when asked whether he felt additional pressure, Rohan said that it was Sunny Gavaskar’s genes which helped him play 1st class cricket for 15 years, 11 ODI’s and be Bengal’s 3rd highest run scorer after Pankaj Roy and Arun Lal.

Still the fact remains that tremendous pressure would have been there on Rohan Gavaskar as also other children of legendary parents.  In such a  daily pressure cooker situation of life, doing well and coming up triumphs is nothing short of fantastic.

Best example of such a person is Amit Kumar. What a tremendous achievement to come out of shadows of his legendary Dad and carve out his own identity. He has sung for all leading heroes of Bombay film industry. From  Amitabh, Jeetendra, Dharmendra, Mithun, Sachin  to Kumar Gaurav, Sanjay Dutt, Shahrukh, Salman, Aamir, Anil Kapoor, Ajay Devgn to Riteish Deshmukh for whom he sang that madcap song “Dekha jo tujhe yaar, dil mein baji guitar”. He has sung for all the top music directors and has 170 songs with Pancham Da, the one and only RD Burman. A unique feature of Amit Kumar as a super singer is that while the movie may have been a flop, his songs were super-duper hits. Lets take some examples. Poocho naa kaisa mazaa aa raha hai ( Aamir, Awwal Number), Tip tip tip tip baarish ( Aamir, Afsana Pyar Kaa), Roz roz Aankhon Tale ( Sanjay Dutt, Jeeva) and so on. This is how remarkable a singing superstar Amit Kumar is.

Thus, there is no doubt that being the son of a famous father brings lots of pressures to the son/daughter. What better example than Don Bradman’s son who changed his name to Bradsen for as many as 45 years. Currently another living legend’s son has taken up the same profession as his father. Yes, none other than Sachin Tendulkar, whose 14 year son Arjun has taken up the same sport which made his illustrious Dad a Bharat Ratna. Immense pressure of comparision on him is likely. Its our responsibility to give him space, and not to compare him with Sachin.

To conclude, its unfair to compare a Dad with his son or daughter. In fact, why talk only of legends. This is true for everyone. We see bureaucrats, doctors, engineers, MBA’s many of whom want their children to take up the same profession and do as well as they have done. In the process, there is unnecessary pressure which is definitely a potential problem area. Please do not put pressure. Allow the kid to choose his/her profession of choice.  Let us follow the example of football legend Ronaldo who when asked if he would like his son to follow his footsteps spontaneously replied “let him choose what he wants to do in life”

I would like to conclude with a statement and a thought. The statement is that the golden Rule is Give Space. The thought is that this article focusses more on Dad-Son. What about Mom-Son. Or Mom-Daughter. Or Dad-Daughter. Or is it that we do not have any ready examples or examples don’t come to mind so easily. If so, have we as a society missed out on the capabilities of women who after all comprise 1/2 of our population. Ending with this sobering thought.

Communication and Telephone Etiquette

A few days back I was trying to have a telephone conversation over cell phone which just could not be completed mainly due to call drops and passing through low network area. Finally, with a great degree of difficulty I managed to communicate that I will call later from landline.

My thought went back to a similar unfinished conversation over landline more than 2 decades ago. That had led me to write a short article on telephone etiquette in a local newspaper. I started thinking about my old article and how most of it is still pertinent. Hence, why not pen down a few thoughts on telephone etiquette. For instance, there are certain golden rules which should always be followed. Some of these are:

Ask “Is it a good time to talk? This may sound formal but is actually very helpful when you are calling someone. If the other person is busy then the chances of his/her listening is negligible. Hence it’s better to call up later when he/she is free. Ask clearly what time you should call up. If a time is given, call up at that time.

How to respond when a call comes. While receiving a call, Greet with a Hello, Good morning/afternoon/evening, this is….. speaking. The effect on the other person will be nice.

Pick up the telephone as early as possible. Here too the effect is nice. It will help to start the conversation on a good note. The iconic ITC Maurya in Delhi which among other things markets itself as the preferred destination of Global leaders has an interesting incentive policy. It pays its telephone receptionists an extra incentive for picking up calls on 1st ring. I am sure they must have done research while doing so that it will result in some degree of not only customer satisfaction, but also customer surprise and maybe even customer delight.

Speak clearly and in normal tone. Never shout. Nothing for instance is more irritating than someone speaking loudly in a public place. If you are in a restaurant or somewhere where many people are there, go out of the room to speak. Inform the people with whom you are there politely that the call is important and you have to take it. And yes, in public place, keep cell phone on silent or vibrator mode

Don’t talk while eating. If you are eating something while talking on a phone, its poor manners. Say politely that you will call back in some time. And please do.

Don’t keep on ringing continuously. Nowadays Cell phones give “missed calls data”. If you are not getting someone, ring 2 or 3 times and then leave a message. The other person obviously is in a situation where he/she can’t take your call. Nothing will be more vexing to him to see, say 24 missed calls. Why make someone worried?

How to talk to Answering Machine? This is something inevitable which we have to deal with nowadays. Answering to an answering machine is not that easy as it sounds. Prepare for it. Have an idea of what to say. Give the message clearly .Don’t make it a long winded message. Be short and crisp.

What to keep as your Answering Machine message . Don’t get tempted to keep something so called interesting like “The name is Bond, James Bond “or “Don ko pakadna mushkil nahin namumkin hai (it is impossible to get Don) Don is not there now, Call back later”. Have something simple like Ï am not there now, please leave your name and message, i will get back to you.”

Listen. Don’t hear. No elaboration is required; I am sure on what is listening and what is hearing.

Think and Plan in advance. For important telephone talks, visualise in advance what you are going to speak. If the other person is important you may get hardly any time to speak. Hence marshal your thoughts properly and say what you have to in a logical, coherent manner. Don’t rush, at the same time get your thoughts across.

Have patience. Treat the person with whom you are talking with courtesy and respect by giving him attention. Do not interrupt. Allow him/her to present his views.

Choose Ring tone/caller tune carefully.  Have u been in a restaurant and someone’s ring tone blares some raucous filmi song. How do u feel? Irritated, I am sure. Therefore don’t do that yourself. Accordingly choose both caller tune and ring tone carefully.

Call back. Maintain a list of people who have called and you could not take the call as you were busy. Then call them back. Same is with SMS. Please respond. The effect will be magical. Check missed calls and call back.

Use Texting/SMS before talking to a working professional. It may so happen that he/she is busy and not in a position to talk. You may get a pleasant surprise. A return SMS saying which is the convenient time to talk. Isn’t it convenient. Please do the same thing too.

It is also important to choose the time when to talk carefully. If you have a fair idea of the work schedule of the other person, avoid busy times. One should also avoid early mornings, late nights and say sunday afternoons as the other person may be inconvenienced and we are eating into his precious private time. If still important, SMS, then talk

Many of us have desk jobs. Yet we use the cell phone. Why not we use the land line ? In fact, for longer conversations we should use a land line with a corded phone, not a cordless line, which uses electromagnetic emitting technology similar to cell phones.

These are a few golden rules which i thought even though everyone knows it will be helpful to pen down in one place. Regarding calling back/responding, I have two interesting real life instances which I hope will not only be of interest, but will also have tremendous learning points.

The first instance is of a friend’s father who was Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister of India. He was obviously a very busy person (what an understatement), free after 11 pm every night. Still he made it a point to spend 30 minutes every night from 1130 pm to midnight returning calls he could not receive throughout the day.

The second instance is of an Uncle of mine in IRS whose philosophy in life is “”always reply to a communication, always return a telephone call, always reply to an SMS”. He was in charge of  Bhubaneswar and one day he was suddenly asked to take over charge of Puri too. He saw that letters of several months were unanswered. The 1st 2 days he gave a 1 line reply to all, “Your letter has been received, I have just joined, I will get back to you at the earliest.”. He actually did, and within a month he responded to all.

The scene now shifts 20 years later. Uncle was a Director in CBDT. Restructuring proposal was pending for long with the Secretary DOPT, a much feared officer. Finally, Chairman CBDT told my Uncle to go and seek an appointment for him. In trepidation, Uncle went and sent a slip inside with his name. To his surprise, he was called in within seconds. The Secretary said, “Are you the same Mr Misra who was posted in Puri 20 years back?” When Uncle said yes and how he guessed, the Secreatary replied, how can I forget. So many of my letters had gone unanswered, but you responded, something rare and unusual, hence it got stuck in my memory.” Thereafter he asked “what brings you here?”Uncle replied “I want an appointment for my Chairman who will request you to clear our restructuring proposal. The Secretary replied “will it benefit you? Uncle said “yes I will become Commissioner Income Tax. Hearing this the Secretary said “Your Chairman does not need to meet me. Since it is going to benefit you I am calling for the file and clearing it right now.” What an amazing real life incident.

These are my random thoughts on communication/ telephone etiquette. Why don’t you share yours?


Memories of Super Cyclone 1999

Florida is in crisis at present with Mother Nature displaying her fury. Memory takes me back to October 29, 1999 when Orissa was hit by a super cyclone .

What was i doing on that Super Cyclone day? I was giving the most difficult exam of my life, the challenging written exam conducted by UPSC for selection to Civil Services.

The morning drive. On that day, i drove to the exam centre at Ravenshaw College, Cuttack and reached at 9am, an hour before exam scheduled time of 10am.  I had recently purchased a new Maruti 800 and was very possessive of it. I looked around and parked it under a huge tree. Someone told me, “cyclone warning, why are you parking there”. I said a bit flippantly, “this tree has not fallen for more than 100 years i guess, so its unlikely to fall now”. Saying this i went up to the exam hall which was in the 1st floor. After i received my answer sheet, i felt a bit uneasy, for no explainable reason. I abruptly got up and requested to go out. The chief invigilator in charge initially did not agree but i pleaded with him that the question paper had not been issued and i needed to go out only to re-park my car. I went out, parked my car in the middle of a field, and came back.

The First Paper The Exam started at 10. It was a tough paper, General Studies Paper 1 from 10 to 1. Just 30 minutes or so after the exam started, hell broke loose. Nature unleashed her fury. Rain and wind were terrifyingly loud, noisy and heavy. The window panes all got smashed and it became eerily dark by noon time. I still remember that lanterns were procured from somewhere by the invigilators. Somehow, we gave the 1st paper which was over at 1 pm.

Lunch break without Lunch All candidates went down and wanted to go out for some food. The Exam in charge said “Where will you go. All restaurants, street food etc have been closed and or washed away”. I blurted out Ïs my car OK Sir. He said “yes, it was a wise decision to change the parking spot, the giant tree under which it was kept earlier has been uprooted and would have smashed your car, I am also glad i allowed you to go down that time after initially saying No”.

The lunch break without lunch which was an hour went by in a few minutes and it was time for Paper 2.

The second paper General Studies Paper 2 was from 2 to 5.  I do not know what i wrote in that situation but i managed to write something. At 4.30 i thought enough is enough and i submitted my paper and asked to leave.  The Principal had given strict instructions that no one is allowed to leave the exam center and will have to stay overnight. However i was in a defiant mood and was very sure i will take a risky foolhardy car drive back home. The positive point i thought was that since for the duration of the exams I had shifted to my in-laws house, it being only 5 kilometers away, I would make it without much problem.

A mad,crazy drive. Somehow, in the blinding rain, i ran to my car and got in. Then I drove it carefully for 300 metres or so. However i had to stop as huge uprooted trees had blocked the road. Reversing, i drove the other way and reached one of the gates of the College. Once again, it was blocked, but by sheets of fallen asbestos. I got out of the car. Somehow gathered some super human strength from somewhere and physically lifted them out of the way. In the process my specs fell off- and FLEW AWAY. Yes, i am not exaggerating, the wind speed was so much they flew away. I got back in the car and started driving again.

The next 20 minutes or so were a nightmare even in retrospective, even now, 18 years after the event. I was driving by instinct alone. Vision was almost nil. Somehow I reached the last stretch of 500 meters or so. Then something interesting happened. Water level being high, somehow it came inside the car. I was driving and i was actually sitting on water. A few minutes more could have led to anything, but i reached home. Definitely i was Scared, scarred but somehow safe.  Just somehow

A terrible Night.  It was a terrifying night. Wind speed and sound was terrible. Later it came out in newspapers that the speed of the wind was so high that the anemometer at IMD office at Paradeep had failed to record it.

That whole night sleep was not possible. Somehow the night passed by and the fury of the cyclone also diminished after dawn. I did not sleep for a minute that terrifying night and nor did any of us. In fact my baby daughter then was 18 months and she cried the whole night long. Now she is 19 plus and she still dislikes the rain and storms. Scientists have held this is true for thousands of children from Orissa who were babies during that time.

The next Day On 30th too i had an exam- Essay Paper. My car was in awful shape and had 2 flat tires as well. So i had to walk 5 km to the exam hall. When I reached I saw all candidates sullenly sitting outside, with bloodshot eyes from lack of sleep. Whole night they had to stay in the center, without food, without water, bathroom facility etc. They were in a militant mood to boycott the exam. It was quite understandable and I shared their view.

At that moment the Principal came and we told him that the exam had to be cancelled. He immediately agreed. However a few minutes later the ADM came and conveyed the District Collector’s message that exam has to continue since only the UPSC in consultation with Chief Secretary of the State had the decision making authority to postpone or cancel. The ADM clearly said that forget Delhi, they were not even in a position to contact even Bhubaneswar, as all communication had collapsed. All candidates were stunned. However slowly, one by one, we went inside and appeared in the Essay Paper.

What next After the Essay Paper was over, all of us framed a resolution to UPSC pointing out the circumstances under which we gave the exam and asking for Cancellation of the General Studies and Essay paper. Thereafter the exam(s) continued. My optionals being Political Science and Anthropology, they were over within a week. I distinctly remember that I had to walk all the 4 remaining days to the exam hall as my car could not be repaired and no auto or cycle rickshaw was available too. A bigger problem was that my specs could not be repaired as well for the entire week and I had to study with a terrible headache. However there was no other option.

Subsequent decision by UPSC. A most interesting and administratively brilliant decision was taken by UPSC. Instead of cancelling the General Studies Paper which was on the day of the Super cyclone, they proposed a second Essay Paper and gave candidates the right to choose whether or not they will appear. This was because General Studies being an identical paper for all 10000 candidates repeating it again may have invited litigation , apart from practical difficulties of framing questions etc. Whereas in an Essay paper, it would hardly matter if 62 candidates are allowed to write an essay again. Anyway i took the decision that i will not repeat the exam, thinking if I have to get it, I will, and if not destined to get it , God will have alternate plans for me.

The result. That year due to the Super Cyclone, the local newspapers had carried out news articles “this year no one will get through UPSC from Cuttack centre due to super cyclone”.

They were wrong. 4 candidates got through out of the 62 in that centre. 1 got IPS, 1 joined IRTS , 1got IAAS and I joined IRS. Was it our destiny ? No idea. I only know that the Super Cyclone was a terrifying event in my life. It is indeed ironical that on such a terrifying day, I had to give the most important exam of my life in which I came out successful, with flying colours.

I hope this true life-story encourages students to do their best in times of adversity.