Pooja Elangbam, IAS, 81st ranker in AICS exam, 2017
The excellent communicator in the current fave of the media in Manipur

Lunminthang Haokip *

 Pooja Elangbam, IAS, 81st ranker in AICS exam, 2017
Pooja Elangbam, IAS, 81st ranker in AICS exam, 2017 :: Pix - TSE

HITTING THE BULL'S EYE IN THE FIRST SHOT : Pu Late H. Jelshyam, the first Paite IAS officer, and the former Chief Secretary of Manipur, was confronted with a hard-hitting question, "Pu, people say you have a bloated ego. Why are you so proud ?" Undaunted, the bureaucrat from CCpur, without batting an eyelid, retorted bluntly, "Tell me, why should I not be proud ? Don't you know how difficult it is to get into IAS, the premier Civil Service of India?"

The man who dared to raise the hackles of the top-notch administrator was dumb-founded. Much water has flown down the Imphal river ever since. Today, the hanker for the top Civil Service job has less to do with prestige and status, and more to do with a desire to be at a vantage point to serve the people.

One such fresh entrant in IAS, with the bang of the cymbal, is Miss Pooja Elangbam, the eldest daughter of Mr. E. Priyo Kumar Singh, IGP/Manipur and Mrs Amita Laishram, Principal Sherwood School, Ayangpali, Imphal. It was with thanks to the over-the-top parentage of the latter duo that Pooja could crack UPSC CSE, 2017 to have emerged triumphant as the 81st rank-holder, Direct Recruit IAS Officer of 2018 batch.

DISCIPLINED GROUNDING AT HOME : Pooja has completed her Foundation Course in LBSNAA, Mussoorie and is presently posted as AC to DC, Imphal West. Ever since she landed home, the local media of Imphal had been going abuzz and vying with one another to have the Officer-on-probation on their cable network talk-shows.

There were several IAS Direct Recruits from Manipur in the past years but this DR of 2018 batch enjoys some kind of celeb status. On her part, the Welham, Dehradun and St. Stephen's, DU alumnus, took to the media interviews like a duck takes to water. The viewer could not miss out on her thorough mastery of the happenings around her.

She spoke candidly on the superb grooming by her mom, and her dad's zeal to make her know the world by taking her along in his official international trips. On her grounding at home, Pooja honestly said, "Any other child in my place, given my parental moulding, would have achieved what I did."

It goes without saying that her narratives on vid-camera, on TOM TV, Impact TV etc were precious tips, not only for CS aspirants, but also for parents of CS aspirants.

BORN TO EXCEL IN STUDIES: Miss Elangbam studied from Baby Class to Class VI in Maria Montessori School, Imphal. The wisdom of her parents got her admitted in the famous Welham Girls' School, Dehradun. Her all-round personality development took shape in the boarding school of repute. The voracious reader from Manipur topped in all Arts and Science subjects in Plus Two exams.

It was no mean feat that she scored 95% in Class X and 96% in Plus Two finals. When the crucial time came for the brilliant 6th October, 1993-born books aficionado to choose optionals in college, she broke tradition by opting for Humanities. Normally, it's agreed upon that Science subjects are more scoring and job-friendly.

It was to the credit of Pooja's confidence level that she 'pooh-poohed' hackneyed 'counsel' and took up History (Hons) in St. Stephen's College, Delhi. She proved all wrong when she came out as a Gold Medalist.

A Master's course in JNU, Delhi that she finished next was an icing on the cake of her academic pursuit. Yet, in her Impact TV interview, Pooja admitted that she wasn't bookish, and never followed a back-breaking routine. The Libran always mixed and balanced studies with recreational breaks.

TRUSTING HER OWN INSTINCT: Came 2016. It was becoming of a daughter of Pooja's sharpness to give a try at MPSC exam. She got a berth in MPS and even joined the mandatory training. The physical strain in Police Service, she thought, coupled with the prospect of having to be cocooned in a Law & Order situation, would limit her scope.

After all, her dad was already in IPS. She wanted to diversify and go for a profession that would enlarge her horizon. So, she began to prepare seriously for CS exams and made an attempt at UPSC CSE in 2017. Pooja always updated her knowledge by going the extra mile. Mugging NCERT text books on all subjects wasn't enough.

She referred often to the CS syllabus, dug out the latest study materials from the internet and made her own short notes. To save time, she noted down the key word through which the whole topic would be recollected at a glance. The aspirant never risked her health in her prep for exam. In between study hours, she used to go for a walk with her sis, Priya, or played badminton with her younger brother.

After cracking the mains in 2017, her mom held mock interviews with her. Pooja proudly disclosed that 70% of the questions her mom took up in mock interviews featured in her actual UPSC interview. She used to surf the internet for study materials. Now CS aspirants are searching for her profile and interviews for inspiration.

MAKING HER OWN MIND-MAP : Pooja gave a wonderful prep tips to wannabe CS candidates in her Youtube motivational speech. To upgrade herself on current Affairs and GK, she read the first page of newspapers with the editorials. Periodicals were a must. She made it clear that there was no use in getting a grasp of an issue she didn't believe in.

If she took up a subject like global warming, she weighed the pros and cons as to how it affected her own surrounding and environment. Application of the chosen matter on life was important to her. In studying a conflict situation, she had a bent of mind to analyse it and hammer out a solution on her own. Her hobbies included watching Sherlock Holmes movies.

Strangely enough, the wannabe Administrator said she found clues to figure out solutions to a conflict situation through the detective episodes. To keep herself fit mentally and physically, she took nutrient-rich stuff and did yoga too. 'Kangsoi' and fish curry too are her faves.

Going by the impulses she nursed as an ambition, and the off-beat way of her prep, without attending a coaching centre, it can be concluded that Pooja was a chip-off-the-old block. Her takes on life were 'hatke.' That she overcame the hurdles of CSE on her own terms is poised to reflect on her job too.

THE ECSTASY OF HAVING MADE IT IN INDIA'S PREMIER SERVICE: The result of UPSC CSE, 2017 was declared in 2018. Pooja came back from her UPSC interview with a bundle of books bought from Rajinder Nagar, Delhi, to make another go. But a friend informed her that she stood in the 81st rank out of 990 selected in her last exam. She cross-checked and found her name.

The whole family erupted in joy. Pooja became the role model for every daughter. I can visualise how happy her parents would have been. The State was proud of a daughter of the soil being added to the 'charmed circle.' Now, the bureaucracy can rest assured that here's an officer well-versed and mentally rehearsed on her craft. Her goals as an IAS officer are set.

High unemployment rate, Women empowerment, Small & Micro Industries, Education, Gender and health issues and entrepreneurship are the priority sectors the charged bureaucrat is determined to reactivate. Having read volumes of books, and travelled extensively, the Welham alumnus is all set to put in her lot in good governance.

In her TV Talk-show, Pooja made her view known that the best way to bring about change in society is to join the system, use rules effectively and improve the system from within. Equipped with distilled knowledge of things, awareness of societal ills, and a zeal to mean business with her job, we hope that this articulate lady with communication skill will become an asset to the State.

* Lunminthang Haokip wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is an IAS (Retd)
This article was webcasted on June 17 2022 .

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