Sultana Parveen/ Purnia
A village in the Katihar district of Seemanchal, the most backward area of Bihar, has suddenly come into the limelight. Kumhari village of Kadwa block is enjoying its moments of glory and fame because of the son of the soil Shubham Kumar who has topped the Civil Services examination 2020.
The festive look that this non-descript village wears since the news broke out represents people’s aspirations and pride. Crossing through the welcome arches on the road to this small village, 30 km from the nearest city – Purnia, one can feel the vibes of the joy of the people.
Everyone in the village is speaking about Shubham and his success as if the village has come alive with dreams and possibilities.
Shahid Raza, a senior advocate of Purnia and former president of the city council, explains this phenomenon of the combined joy of the villagers and the region. He says in backward areas like Seemanchal, Shubham Kumar is like a blooming lotus in the slush. His success has triggered the dreams of the younger generation and the youth are surely going to follow Subham.
Retired Jute Department officer Abdul Wahid says that Subham has filled their hearts with pride and their village has come into national headlines.
Devanand Singh, Shubham's father is a happy man. He says that Shubham's mother Poonam Singh has played a big role in their son’s success. When Shubham was in school, he would always attend the parents'-teachers meetings while taking time off from his work.
Shubham's mother supported him in all he did and also encouraged him. He says that when Shubham enrolled in Vidya Vihar School in Purnea in class VI, he was ranked 40th out of 110 children in his class in the first year.
The father explained the ranking business in the school premises by spreading a sheet of paper on the ground while his mother fed him his choicest food. The parents just encouraged him. The parents never made an issue of his not scoring top rank. “We kept encouraging him,” his father said.
This went on for several years. In the ninth standard, Shubham was among the three toppers.
Singh says he was expecting Shubham to score within the first 50 places in the UPSC. However, his dedication and hard work had brought results and pride to the family.
Shubham's elder sister Anchita Kumari is a Scientific Officer in the Department of Atomic Energy, Bangalore. She says that even in childhood, Shubham was focused on achieving his goals. He was always serious about his studies and never hesitated to do any work. She believes it’s his dedication that has helped him achieve success.
Shubham Kumar passed his matriculation examination from Residential School Vidya Vihar in Purnia where he was enrolled in the sixth grade. Dr. Gopal Jha was the superintendent of the school hostel back then.
Dr. Gopal says that all his colleagues have been talking about Shubham ever since the big news came in. “We tried hard to think of the mistakes he made and for which we had to punish him but failed,” he said.
He says Shubham’s commitment had made him special; he never needed to be woken up in the morning; was the first to get ready and reached the place where he was required before time be it for physical training, breakfast, lunch, or the afternoon study. He never gave a chance to his teachers’ to complain.
Dr. Gopal Jha says that Shubham has a very good habit; he writes beautifully. He was not only good at reading, he was also good at writing. This time in the written examination of UPSC, Shubham was leading with number 23. Despite being behind many candidates in the interview, he was the topper because of his score in the written examination.
The biggest secret of his success is his writing.
Nikhil Ranjan, a chemistry teacher at Vidya Vihar School, says that when Shubham Kumar came to school in 2008 in class VI, was an average student. He worked on himself and improved on all fronts. In the initial days, out of 110 children studying in his class, if he had ever been in 30th place, he was still at 40th place. But with time he got better. When he was in class VIII he wanted to study books of ninth and when he was in the ninth he used for 11th.
After passing his matriculation when he joined Bokaro's Chinmaya School for his plus two, his habit of studying his senior classes booked helped him to keep ahead of others.
After clearing his B Tech in civil engineering in IT Mumbai, he did an internship in the corporate sector and he didn’t like the Corporate culture.
He had been preparing for the UPSC from his college days. Sanjeev Ranjan says that he could not succeed in the 2018 UPSC exam but the next year he cleared with 290th rank.
He however continued his preparations while being in the job and went on leave without pay for serious preparation. The lockdown helped him focus on his studies.
Kumar Nishant Vivek, a trainee IAS in Purnia, says he and Shubham are childhood friends. Both had studied in Vidya Vihar School and were classmates for five years. Later, they met in Delhi and started preparations for UPSC, and stayed in the same room.
Recalling his school days, IAS Nishant Vivek says that Shubham was always hardworking and dedicated to his studies. He took great interest in sports as well. He played cricket, basketball and table tennis. Nishant says both of them took part in the National Talent Search Examination in 2009.
Nishant Vivek and Shubham Kumar were together in Scout. Both friends once went to Hyderabad in the Jamboori Camp of a Scout Guide and were there for two weeks.