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Abandoned But Not Forgotten: Growing Up in a Hostel from Age Four And Cracking UPSC

Overcoming heartbreak and hardship, Akash Chavda secures AIR-1007 in UPSC CSE 2023, driven by the memories of his late parents and the unwavering support of his cousin
Indian Masterminds Stories

When Akash Chavda’s mother passed away, he was just three years old—a tender age when a child could barely comprehend the world around him, let alone the concept of loss. His father, a factory worker in the Gulf countries, was forced to make a heart-wrenching decision. With no option to care for Akash himself, he left his young son in a hostel, hoping that the volunteers there could provide the nurturing he could not. For Akash, this hostel became home, a place where he learned to fend for himself far earlier than most children ever have to.

GROWING UP ALONE: A CHILDHOOD IN A HOSTEL

From the age of four, Akash grew up in the hostel, an environment where he had to adapt quickly. The volunteers became his guardians, teaching him life skills and providing the emotional support he needed

His father, consumed by the demands of his job abroad, could only visit him thrice over the next decade, each visit a brief interlude in Akash’s otherwise isolated upbringing. Despite the sparse contact, these visits were treasured moments that Akash clung to as reminders of his father’s love and sacrifice.

Akash with his sister

THE SECOND TRAGEDY: LOSING HIS FATHER

When Akash was in ninth grade, tragedy struck again. His father died in a road accident, leaving Akash an orphan at the tender age of thirteen. The news devastated him, shattering the fragile sense of stability he had managed to build. It seemed as though the world had come to a stop.

“Unfortunately, I was not able to spend much time with both my parents. It was very difficult for me but I had to survive anyhow which is why I just accepted my reality,” he shared with Indian Masterminds.

A NEW HOME: THE STRENGTH OF A BROTHER’S LOVE

Yet, in this darkest hour, a ray of hope emerged—his cousin brother, a mason by profession, stepped in to fill the void. This cousin not only took Akash into his home but also into his heart, treating him as his own son.

Akash’s cousin brother provided more than just a roof over his head; he offered unconditional support and love. This newfound family was not wealthy—living in a one-room tin shed house with an attached kitchen—but it was rich in compassion and determination. His cousin never let their modest means dampen Akash’s ambitions. Instead, he motivated Akash to pursue his dreams, encouraging him to aim high and attempt the UPSC exams.

“My cousin brother means everything to me. I stayed with him after my parents passed away and never once did I feel that I don’t belong there. He taught me, raised me, and nurtured me like his own child. He supported me in every decision that I took and stood by me like a rock. I told him I wanted to prepare for UPSC and he gave me his blessings and encouraged me to go for it, even after knowing that it could take years to become a successful civil officer,” shared Akash.

Akash with his brother

DISCOVERING A DREAM

After completing his schooling in a Gujarati medium institution, Akash pursued engineering. It was during college that he first learned about the UPSC Civil Services Examination from his peers.

The idea of becoming an IAS officer ignited a passion within him, and he returned to his village, ready to embark on this challenging journey. His cousin brother stood by his decision, providing moral support and a quiet space in their small home for Akash to study.

SELF-MADE SCHOLAR

Akash’s preparation was marked by self-discipline and resourcefulness. With limited access to coaching classes, he relied on self-study. Every day, he would sit down with a dictionary, painstakingly noting and memorizing difficult English words, striving to overcome the language barrier posed by his Gujarati medium background.

“Initially, I had to literally translate with the help of a dictionary to understand what was written in the book, but studying in English actually felt good which motivated me further,” he told Indian Masterminds.

His first attempt at UPSC CSE in 2019 saw him clear the prelims but stumble at the Mains stage. Undeterred, Akash explored other options, preparing for the Gujarat Public Service Commission (GPSC) exams.

SETBACKS AND COMEBACKS

The path to success was fraught with challenges. Akash’s attempts at GPSC in 2020 and 2021 were near misses, falling short of just two marks in the final stages. Each setback was a bitter pill, but his cousin’s belief in him kept his spirits high.

“After even plan B of doing GPSC failed, I decided to think about plan C as I got very disturbed at the time. I started thinking of taking up a job to become financially independent and giving up on the dream of becoming a civil servant but my brother motivated me otherwise. He encouraged me to not give up on my dream for a meager job and pushed me ahead, which I am glad he did,” Akash stated.

As plan C, he went on to take the Group C exams of UPSC and finally, in 2022, Akash cleared the Group C exam, becoming a state tax inspector. This achievement provided the financial stability he needed to refocus on his ultimate goal—the UPSC.

Akash’s guardian parents (his cousin brother and sister-in-law)

FINAL VICTORY

Akash’s persistence bore fruit when he secured AIR-1007 in UPSC CSE 2023. It was a moment of profound triumph, not just for Akash but for his entire family.

The memory of his parents, the sacrifices of his father, and the steadfast support of his cousin brother had all culminated in this victory.

LOOKING AHEAD: NEW HORIZONS

Despite his success, Akash remains humble and driven. He aims to improve his rank and has already given his prelims again, seeking to push his limits further. His story is not just one of personal achievement but a pillar of inspiration for many who face similar adversities.

Akash Chavda’s journey from a lonely hostel room to the halls of the UPSC is a stirring reminder that with determination, support, and love, even the most daunting dreams can be realized.

In Akash’s words, “Every setback was a lesson, every loss a motivation. I owe my success to my parents’ memories and my brother’s faith in me. They are the wind beneath my wings.”


Indian Masterminds Stories

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