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Friday, April 19, 2024

Meet the daily wager’s son who cracked IAS to become a ‘people’s collector’

Ganjam Collector Vijay Kulange, known for his people-centric initiatives, defied the obstacles to crack UPSC, become an IAS officer, and fulfill his passion of serving the common man.

Stories about people overcoming misfortune strike a chord deep within us. Parts of us hope that our future is determined by our efforts rather than fate.

Vijay Kulange, an IAS officer, has an extraordinary narrative of persistence and inspiration.

Vijay was up in the small village of Ralegan in Maharashtra’s Ahmadnagar district, the son of a tailor and a farm labourer.

His parents were continuously concerned about supplying their children with two square meals a day, although earning just approximately Rs 200 per day.

Money was constantly scarce, and even the most basic requirements were unthinkable. The one thing Vijay had ever had in excess as a youngster was a burning desire to alleviate his parents’ concerns and make them proud. And he did precisely that his entire life.

My parents instilled in me the value of education and how it may improve our life from an early age.

Vijay, a voracious reader, was always among the best scorers in school, both in his 10th and 12th grades.

He wanted to become a doctor and aid the needy after growing up in a drought-prone area with high poverty levels and little development.

Despite receiving a college seat to pursue MBBS, he was forced to abandon his goal owing to the family’s financial constraints.

“We were still poor, and I needed to start working as soon as possible. I couldn’t afford the 7-8 years it would take to pursue a career in medicine.”

After carefully considering his options, he chose a Diploma in Education (D.Ed), finished it, and began working as a primary teacher at a government school in the adjacent Nevasa taluka within six months. A consistent wage from this work helped assuage his parents’ concerns while also allowing him to complete his diploma via online school. However, Vijay always felt he could have done more.

Vijay’s father detected this recurring notion in his head and urged him to study for the state civil service test.

“My father used to remind me that preparing for an exam is never a waste of time.

It is always a win-win situation. He also mentioned that it will help me become a better teacher “Vijay recalled. These remarks would come in handy multiple times during Vijay’s voyage.

He was inspired by them and resolved to study for the Maharashtra State Civil Service (MPSC) test. Covering the extensive curriculum wasn’t easy, but he persisted, following to a rigid schedule of working during the day and studying at night.

Vijay failed the exam on his first two attempts. He was naturally disappointed, but his parents never let him down.

They, on the other hand, consistently boosted Vijay’s confidence in himself, so he decided to quit his job and devote all of his time to a final effort.

When he passed the MPSC test on his third try, he became a Sales Tax Inspector in Ahmadnagar. He also passed the Tehsildar examination the next year. During this period, I also met Sanjeev Kumar, the then-District Collector of Ahmadnagar and an IAS official, who pushed me to take the UPSC Civil Service Examination.

“I heeded his advice despite having very limited study leave for preparations,” Vijay says.

Vijay opted against taking tutoring and instead would study hard in the limited time he had before and after his duty hours. Because he still struggled with English, he elected to take the exam in Marathi, which made preparing more difficult because there was limited study material in the language.

However, as the saying goes, fortune favors the courageous. In 2012, he passed the UPSC CSE on his first try and was promoted to the post of IAS officer. When asked what contributed to his accomplishment, Vijay answers, “My father’s words of confidence, along with the security of my work, allowed me to take the UPSC CSE with no anxiety or pressure. I wasn’t concerned about failing to qualify. I just wanted to give it my all. Five years of taking notes for the state civil service test also served me well.”

Vijay’s first posting as an IAS officer was in the Odisha district of Dhenkanal. Since then, he has written a Marathi book called ‘Aajcha Diwas Maza,’ in which he describes his challenges, travels, and the sacrifices his parents made to raise their children.

Today, Vijay Kulange lives with his happy parents and continues to work tirelessly to develop Odisha. As the Ganjam collector during the COVID-19 outbreak, Vijay received widespread public recognition for launching a host of popular programs.


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