R.A. Israel Jebasingh’s Journey : From Average Student To IAS Officer

Every year, we hear the news of students taking their lives because they failed to clear the exam. Unfortunately, there seems to be no end to the pressure to score top marks to become successful. Many students lose their dreams because of a piece of paper. But when it comes to becoming successful in the real world all you need is a dedicated mind-set.

This is true, even for the UPSC Civil Services Exam (CSE). If you want to clear the exam, you need passion and a dedicated mind. So, here are a few success stories of students who have scored less in their schools, but still they have managed to clear the UPSC Civil Services Exam.

Obtaining a profession is believed to require a lot of sacrifices, like giving up one’s entire social and personal life. Mr. R.A. Israel Jebasingh, who served as an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer for a decade now and is currently running an IAS Officer’s Academy in Chennai, busts these myths.

Note- For more details about IAS syllabus, click on UPSC CSE IAS Syllabus

The IAS officer sends a message that scoring poor marks or failing in an examination is not the end of the world and that there is always a way to turn things around and do what you love.

R.A. Israel Jebasingh’s Journey

This is Mr. Jebasingh’s answer to this popular question, ‘Can an average person crack the UPSC exam?’:

“Finally, a question that I can answer with all my heart. I have secured AIR 59 in the attempt which led to me becoming an IAS officer, and before that, I got IRTS. The most exciting thing about this is – that I have been an average student in my entire life. Throughout my whole school life, I was an ordinary student without any particular inclination towards any subject.

I would always wonder how great it would be to become a topper and become successful and smart. As I moved onto college, there were no big surprises out there for me. Not only could I not become a topper, I even got the medal of honour every engineering student gets- an arrear. So, summing up my life until then, I was just like any other ordinary average student. Not academically brilliant, nor too shabby.

This was when I decided to change something in my life. The immediate response from my teachers and other close circles was not exactly supportive. They thought that only academic and intellectual persons could crack this exam and looking at me, nobody could picture me as an IAS officer.”

On being a public servant, ‘I usually prefer the term ‘civil servant’ to the term ‘bureaucrat’ as it spells out that the ‘master’ is the common man.’

“Well, back then- there was only one way to find out, and that was to start preparing for it. During this time, I was already working as a lecturer. Hence, in every probability of popular belief, I was not supposed to crack this exam as I don’t possess superhuman intelligence nor enough time. But I did clear it, twice.

I learned the biggest lesson on the day when I cleared this exam which I to this day tell my students. You cannot measure a person based on academic records and intellectualism. Sure, they are essential, but not everything. Success and grades are different in the real world.

Even if you are an average student, you can still be successful if you are smart and hardworking. Apply what you know and work for it, and you will get success eventually. That’s how life works for everyone.

Years later, when I decided to go back to teaching, I felt that I wanted to tell everyone that being an average student is not wrong, but somewhat wholly normal. Even at this point, there was a widespread belief that only intelligent students could crack civil service examinations. For a moment, I became the young guy who was told that I could never get IAS.

I felt that it was unfair when someone tells an average student they won’t amount to much in life. The idea of Officers IAS Academy began to shape, and for the passion, I have for teaching, I decided to help anyone who wanted to become a civil servant. And I was joined by like-minded companions in this initiative who helped countless aspirants achieve their dream. And we have seen it with our own eyes, many average students have cracked this exam just because they were passionate about it.

I feel that being passionate about something is what matters the most when you want to make a change in it. No matter what your grades are, you will achieve it if you continue to have the fire. Take, for example, Elon Musk, who was initially into internet services like PayPal. His passion for technology has built Tesla cars which have started a revolution of its own and now he is famous for his success in SpaceX, which specializes in advanced rockets and spacecraft.

Look how he managed to be top-notch in a mere two decades and that too space technology is one of the most complicated fields. So from being an online payment company to building rockets, it was his passion and perseverance that helped him achieve. Please do note that even NASA, a giant in space exploration, never took SpaceX seriously when they started, and now even NASA is collaborating with them.

I want to conclude this by saying that- there will be many factors and elements that determine or map the course of your life, and you may or may not be entirely under your control. But I want to tell all of the students -who are reading this to know that being average does not matter much if you have the will and desire to achieve what you want in life. Continue working on what you want, and if someone like me can make my dream, so can you.”

Here are some other important responses from his interview:

  1. At what age or time did you decide to join the UPSC civil service, and how did you achieve your goal?

    My desire to join the UPSC civil services started when I was in my early 20s. My parents encouraged, as they wanted me to become an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer. I was not a top student in the school, nor was I a gold medallist in my college, but my parents dreamt big. So, I started dreaming big, too. I had some arrears while doing my graduation.
    However, the seed sown by my parents was growing strong, and I wanted to something with it. I was not very successful in any of the campus interviews or placement process, and then I joined as a faculty or lecturer at an engineering college. I started my UPSC preparation in the library. And as I learnt about the dos and don’ts, I mapped put a strategy and followed it through to become a successful civil servant. This is how I landed in UPSC civil services.

  2. Do you have any secret behind your all-India 59th rank?

    The secret was the formula I followed throughout the entire preparation is learn ‘from the masters who have already achieved it’. I learnt tips by meeting mentors, who had already made it to the civil services or IAS. Initially, I only secured all-India 294th rank and joined the Indian Railway Traffic Service. Then I appeared again for the Civil Service examination and got all-India 59th rank.


There are many  myths surrounding the Civil Services Posts and the UPSC Civil Services Exam. Some people believe that only those having an excellent academic record or degree can get it. At the same time, some think that it is only easy or possible for students with professional qualifications such as engineering and medicine. However, Mr. R.A. Israel Jebasingh has shown that excellent marks or fancy degrees don’t matter in clearing the UPSC Civil Services Exam. As long as you dream big and stick to your goals, you are sure to attain them.

Areas covered in this article

  • Myths regarding the UPSC Civil Services Exam.
  • IAS Officer R.A. Israel Jebasingh gives aspirants some advice on how to clear the UPSC CSE even with low marks.

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