Two roads emerged. And he paused. Then took a U-turn. And started a new journey, navigated by his heart. For Israel Jebasingh, the call of duty to his parents took precedence over the hard fought hot seat of power. Barely 5 years into his innings as a 2004 batch IAS Officer in the West Bengal cadre, after notching up the All India 59th rank, his mother was battling an “advanced stage of cancer.” Upholding one of the Ten Commandments in the Christian faith to ‘Honour Your Father and Mother’, this young bureaucrat went on unpaid leave for a whole year to move to Chennai and be by the bedside of the lady who brought him into this world.
The sacrifices of his parents, both former Government servants, to put him through schoolat Don Bosco, Perambur and Sri Venkateswara Engineering College, Sriperumbudur, was not lost on Israel. Meanwhile, an offer to implement a long cherished dream of Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas (PURA) which was a pet project of former President of India Dr.A.P.J.Abdul Kalam,with Chennai as the base, came his way. Unhesitatingly, he quit the IAS to serve his ailing mother and also the rural poor through SREI Sahaj e Village Limited, away from the trappings of power.
A passion for teaching was probably in Israel’s genes, as his mother was a school teacher and he too had worked as a Lecturer before joining the Civil Services. Starting a school needed massive seed investment. That’s when an idea dawned on him. “An IAS Officer starting an IAS Academy was the first of its kind. So, I thought of starting this venture as it is easy to guide others on a path that I had successfully travelled.” A humble beginning in 2013 saw just 7 students, with Israel the sole academic ranger.
Breaking the monopoly of Delhi as the exclusive preserve of IAS Coaching, the Officers IAS Academy, soon began to deliver results. “Eight of our teachers have been Civil Service Officers. Our Associate Director, Mr Rangarajan, was an IAS Officer with an All India Rank of 46 in his first attempt.” Word spread about this ‘been there,done that’ USP of Officers grooming students to walk in their footseps.
“With quality coaching provided at their doorstep, students from South India preferred coming here rather than going to far flung Delhi.” The footprint has been getting wider with “students from Kashmir, Rajasthan, North East and Central India flocking to our Academy, primarily because of the individual attention they get here.”
From staff who clearly know their onions. And a steady stream of the Who’s Who in the bureaucracy roped in for Guest Lectures at their main Centre in Anna Nagar, and at the Adyar and Bengaluru branches. “Our coaching fees and hostel bills are nearly half of what is charged in Delhi.”
Over the last 6 years, the Officers IAS Academy has seen “about 3000 students.” Israel claims that “more than 300 students have cleared the Civil Services Exam till date. Many have also got into the Indian Forest Service, Central Armed Police Forces(CAPF), RBI, Grade B and Group 1 services of State Service Commissions.”
An Academy need not be a mere money spinning teaching shop. The Officers IAS Academy opens its doors to deserving students who cannot afford its fees.
For instance, a girl’s father died in a road accident just two months before her 12th Std exam in 2018. His last wish was to make his daughter an IAS officer. She scored 1176 marks in her 12th std. As soon as we heard about her plight, we got a seat for her in Ethiraj College, took care of all her educational expenses and offered her our four-year integrated program completely free of cost. Diligent, hard-working and determined, she is all set to fulfill her father’s dream, hopefully next year. We believe that ‘support to the right person, in the right way, at the right time’, yields desired results.”
That’s not all. Israel has started the Joyce Daniel Trust named after his parents. Free tuitions every day for slum children, free medical treatment for poor people from slum areas in Mugappair…the outreach goes on.
Israel’s wife Anandi is the Finance Director of the Academy. Their sons – Alexander and Einstein are in SBOA Global School, way too young to decipher their propensity for public service. But for scores of IAS aspirants down South, the name ‘Israel’ spells quite the promised land!
(Sanjay Pinto is an Advocate practising at the Madras High Court, Columnist, Author, Public Speaking Mentor & Former Resident Editor – NDTV 24×7)