Thursday, 2 February, 2023
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In this sleepy UP town, lakhs are sold an IAS-IPS dream but no one gets selected

Thakurdwara is home to dozens of UPSC coaching institutes that teach youth to pursue the IAS-IPS dream, without caring for the reality of a lack of jobs.

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Thakurdwara: Just four hours away from the national capital, students as young as 14 and as old as 30 throng a nondescript town called Thakurdwara in Uttar Pradesh’s Moradabad district.

Over the last four to five years, the thinly populated town has come to be known as a place where dreams are sold to students from across Uttar Pradesh. The students have one goal — to bag government jobs, be it at the top of the civil service like the IAS and IPS, or at lower levels like clerk and stenographer. And Thakurdwara is dotted with coaching centres in every nook and corner to cater to their aspirations.

Rajni and Moni Chauhan, like thousands of other youngsters in UP, hope to realise their dreams by becoming civil servants. | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
Rajni and Moni Chauhan, like thousands of other youngsters in UP, hope to realise their dreams by becoming civil servants. | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint

“Our ‘sir’ tells us that once you become an adhikari (official), you live a life of respect and dignity forever,” says 22-year-old Moni Chauhan. “Sir says that if you become an IAS officer, you will head a district, manage everything and keep getting promoted and reach the top,” adds Moni, who did not know the full-form of the IAS until a year ago.

Hero worship

Moni’s “Sir” — K.K. Chauhan — is nothing less than a hero for the nearly 5,000 students studying in his Nalanda IAS Academy, which he founded four years ago and where he serves as director.

K.K. Chauhan is nothing less than a hero for the nearly 5,000 students studying in the Nalanda IAS Academy. | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
K.K. Chauhan is nothing less than a hero for the nearly 5,000 students studying in the Nalanda IAS Academy. | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint

Across the academy, larger-than-life posters of Chauhan, with his arms crossed and a victorious smile on his face, stare down at the students.

Chauhan was an IAS aspirant, who took coaching for six years before giving up and founding the academy. But that does not come in the way of the reverence he evokes in his students. Neither does the fact that in the last four years, no student from the academy has cracked the intensely competitive civil services exam, or that fewer and fewer government jobs are being created in the country.

“A UPSC candidate can achieve whatever they want… Chauhan Sir is a living example of that,” says Bobby, another student at the academy, as the packed classroom breaks into a loud applause.

It is not hard to guess why Chauhan’s failed attempts to crack the IAS are a success story for his students. With his shiny red blazer, pointed leather shoes, gelled hair, the English-speaking Chauhan earns Rs 5-6 lakh a month, and symbolises for his students all that an IAS aspirant can achieve, even if he or she doesn’t clear the exam.

Also read: Young, educated, jobless: These men in UP villages have nothing to do but play cricket

Little room for realism

Asked about the shrinking opportunities in the government sector, Bobby says: “We cannot compromise on our dreams just because there are no jobs being created.”

Bobby isn’t the only one — most students in Thakurdwara seem to be trained to relentlessly follow their systematically crafted dreams, no matter how elusive they may be. They repeat what seem like rehearsed lines with child-like innocence.

“A person can struggle for five years or for the next 50 years,” says 30-year-old Arish Ahmed, who left a government job — airport clerk — three years ago.

“When I started working there, I got some exposure and realised only adhikaris have the real life… I decided to play a gamble; let’s see if I succeed or not,” says Ahmed, who has appeared unsuccessfully for the civil service exam the last two years. “I have one more attempt left — it is a make or break situation for me.”

“All we are taught is that if we work hard enough, there is nothing we cannot achieve,” he adds.

However, there are those who have come to realise the cruelty of the “mass manufacture of dreams” in Thakurdwara.

Thirty-four-year-old Shamshad was among the many students to spend over three years at a coaching centre in Thakurdwara. He now says the youth is being “brainwashed” in this town.

Shamshad has spent over three years at UPSC coaching centres trying to pass the exam. | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
Shamshad has spent over three years at a UPSC coaching centre, trying to clear the exam. | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint

“There are lakhs of children who come here every day, they are trained to look up to their teachers, who are teaching them exactly what they failed to achieve,” says Shamshad, who too had taught at a coaching centre for a year before taking to practising law. “They are trained to think they have become IAS officers just by becoming IAS aspirants.”

Apart from Chauhan’s Nalanda Academy, there are 30-35 other civil service coaching institutes in this town with thousands of students each. They are all aiming to qualify as one of the 1,000-1,200 candidates who succeed in clearing the civil service exam each year. But most of those who clear the UPSC exam go into services considered less prestigious than the IAS or the IPS, which students like Moni, Bobby and Arish Ahmed have not even heard of. Their dream is to simply be among the 180 IAS officers that the UPSC recruits each year.

Smaller dreams under thatched roofs

Thakurdwara is not just about big dreams of the IAS and IPS. Lakhs of students from poorer and less privileged families are also flocking to the town in the hope of bagging Grade ‘C’ and ‘D’ government jobs.

In stark contrast to the academies run by the likes of Chauhan, these students sit on the floor under the thatched roofs of some of the makeshift coaching centres.

But it is not just their classrooms which look markedly different from those of their wealthier and more privileged counterparts, who aspire to be a part of the country’s much-celebrated steel frame. Their dreams are closer to reality.

Pamphlets of coaching centers in the trash | Praveen Jain | ThePrint

“I have been taking the SSC (Staff Selection Commission) exam for the last two years,” says 24-year-old Mohammad Yaduddin. “But there are no jobs… Sometimes the paper gets leaked, sometimes there is a court case. For how long can I keep doing this?”

It is a question Yaduddin’s parents often ask him. “My parents have also started taunting me… They say I am a grown man who is still taking coaching on his parents’ money rather than supporting them,” he says. “I will give it one more year and see if I can make it…Otherwise I will go surrender to my parents and say I will do whatever they want me to do.”

Also read: Maggi, fridge, clothes, mobile data, booze — nothing is selling in slowdown-hit rural UP


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  1. There has been a very good selection from thakurdawa for ssc ,uppsc and upsssc . Therefore it’s wrong to say that the result from thakurdawa is bad .

  2. This is half reality of this town. What about these who got Govt jobs from there. the number is in thousands. Coaching of Civil Services is new but this town is very famous for stenography and typing coaching.
    You can survey in any department, most of the hindi stenographers will be from Thakurdwara coaching centers.

  3. In modern logic being aspirational is a driving force for development. Nut Hindu religion says do not aspire, for want is cause for grief. Need is always met by God. Why do you think India is a pauper in the world today??

    • One who really want to serve his or her country by heart can do it by many ways even by teaching or by farming and many more examples are in the row.
      Guys never loose hope

  4. Why defame U.P. Substandard coaching institutes are cheating students in all other states also. State governments must regulate the coaching Industry.

  5. Typical of the job creation racket. Those like Chauhan who have failed to succeed create a start up industry by creating a dream .This is as per the guidelines given by top echelons of govt at centre. In a backward state like Yogiraj’s U P. what better way than exploiting education. It is not like the engg. Entrance course being run by a gentleman in Bihar.

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