Published: 10th August 2020
This Kerala youth, from a family of theyyam artists, cleared UPSC in 2018 and 2019 because he wanted a 'better rank'
Vivek KV who hails from Kannur now hopes to make it to the IAS. He was previously working with the railways and began tutoring UPSC aspirants while writing the exam himself
They say that sky is the limit. If you have any qualms believing it, ask Kuttikol Vannanpurakkal Vivek. Last year, when the UPSC results were declared, we spoke to Vivek who had then bagged the 667th rank. He was the first man from the scheduled Vannan caste, which boasted of many theyyam artists, to get a shot at entering the civil service.
Vivek was an unusual amalgam of a dreamer and a go-getter. He knew that he could do better than his previous rank. Adamant, he wrote the exam again in 2019. This year, he jumped 366 positions, bagging an All India Rank of 301. He is, undoubtedly elated. "This was a pat on my back," he says. "I thought that last year's rank was good enough for me to get into IFS (Indian Foreign Service). But that wasn't the case. I got into the railway service. So, I prepared again," says Vivek, who is an alumnus of NIT Trichy and IIM Calcutta.
"With a month's preparation, I wrote the preliminary examination, which I cleared. I was short of funds at that time, so I withdrew my PF money to fund my preparations. In fact, by the time I wrote the mains, I was completely broke," Vivek laughs. At the same time he paints a grim, yet realistic picture of how expensive IAS coaching is, in India. He tells us how he had spent around Rs 2.4 Lakh just for the coaching. Prior to attempting UPSC for the first time, he worked in IIM Calcutta.
Vivek comes from a family of theyyam artists
Even though Vivek joined the railways, he decided to take a leave of absence. "Some services offer you the freedom to choose that. Anyhow, it was a win-win situation for me. I had a job in hand. I knew that I wouldn't end up on the footpath, even if I don't make it this time," he says. "So, I dedicated all my time to prepare for this exam. I am passionate about cinema and photography. But this time, I decided to give it all a break," he says.
After completing the mains, he joined the Kerala State Civil Service Academy as a mentor. "This was helpful because I was revising as I taught the other aspirants," he says. Right after this, he attended the interview, which he says was 'really good' this time. "I was expecting a rank within 100. However, I hope to get into IAS this time," he says.
Vivek's family which was already elated at his last year's rank now know has no limit for their joy. "They thought that rank 667 was good enough for me. Sadly, this is how social structures work. The cost of ambition is quite high for a first-generation achiever," says Vivek. He comes from a family of theyyam artists, who are sadly pushed to alcoholism at a young age. He once told us how they 'drink alcohol like they drink tea' in his ancestral home in Kannur. He owes it all to his primary education in English medium school and his mother's determination. In fact, he lost his father to alcoholism, a few days before his first prelims.
I knew that I was cut out for bigger things. I was ready to give everything for bigger things. There was no one to push me. This was an individual decision
Vivek K V
"I knew that I was cut out for bigger things. I was ready to give everything for bigger things. There was no one to push me. This was an individual decision," he says. He believes that this is important not just for him, but for students from socially backward classes and castes. "This is where the very spirit of reservations lie. It's all about adequate representation," he says.
Vivek left Kerala right after he completed school, 14 years back. However, he now hopes that he gets selected in the Kerala cadre. He has reasons too. "Knowledge of local languages make local governance easier," he says. "Also, I wouldn't have been here, if not for the strong primary school education I received from Kerala. I owe it all to the state," he says.