I was born and raised in a lower-middle-class family in Bettiah. It is believed that Bettiah got its name from 'baint' (cane) plants commonly found in this district.
As you step into Bettiah, it's like taking a journey back in time. The city is adorned with numerous historical sites and monuments that tell tales of the past. Back in the Mughal era, Bettiah was the stronghold of the formidable Zamindari estate known as Bettiah Raj. Once thriving with expansive indigo plantations, today, Bettiah is a different sight, with small farms growing wheat and sugarcane, adding to its charming rural vibe.
Bettiah on the map
Bettiah is a city and administrative headquarters of West Champaran, the largest district in Bihar. As the district shares its border with Nepal, it holds strategic and international importance.
Champaran has a place in history
I need not talk about the Champaran Satyagraha (1917), countless history books, documentaries, films, and journals have beautifully captured the inspiration, the struggles, and the wins of this movement. But it does feel amazing to have one's roots in a place with such a rich history. I encourage readers to visit Bihar Tourism's website to learn more about West Champaran and other parts of Bihar.
Childhood: A journey of trials and courage
I lost my parents in my childhood. And that was the beginning of some great difficulties. I had to take up huge responsibilities at a very young age. Life has its twists and turns and nobody seeks your consent. You hardly get any time to sit and brood. And as they say, 'the show must go on'.
So, I completed my matriculation from my village high school and graduated from MJK College, Bettiah. I worked as a tutor and took up some other work to manage my expenses. I also worked in a bank for some time.
All these experiences have helped me overcome roadblocks and be more resilient in life.
Civil Services: The dream to serve my nation
Back in the day, being a Civil Servant was a big thing. It offered an opportunity to play a role in nation-building. What is more honourable than that? So I started preparing for the examinations diligently. I qualified twice in the IAS prelims but could not clear the mains. Well, recently I got to know that even ChatGPT couldn't crack the Indian Civil Services exam. That tells you a lot about the nature of the exam.
With absolutely no regrets, I moved on. I decided to apply for Bihar State Services. I took the BPSC exam for the first time in the 29th batch and it was pure joy when the results were announced. I was selected for the Bihar Administrative Service.
Serving Bihar: The trials, wins, and memories
With roots in Bettiah, I was now a part of the bigger picture.
I worked at block levels as a Circle Officer. Then at sub divisional level for three years. I worked as the Private Secretary to the State Minister for seven years. And then, I was posted at the district level for almost eight years, moving to the divisional level and state level for two years.
It was in Bettiah that I witnessed the life of IAS officers posted there. I was inspired by their work. Though there were many career choices like banking, defence services, and forest services before me, I focused on civil services.
At the same time, I love how times have changed. The present generation has many exciting choices, and private sector avenues are competitive, growth-oriented, and every bit worth considering. My own sons and daughter are doing extremely well in the private sector, working with some of the leading corporates and big names in their respective fields.
However, I see them struggling with work-life balance. I know it's not sector-oriented, that's how it is. It brings back memories of how challenging it was to balance work and personal life at the field level. But it was a little better at the district and state-level postings.
My journey at the initial levels was very challenging. Law and order, flood and other natural calamities were very challenging. But at district and state levels, legal matters were also very challenging. Political interference and indifferent attitudes of senior officers were also very disheartening.
Bihar is different from other states, especially in matters of poverty and illiteracy. It is also primarily an agricultural-based economy. So the issues that came up were quite complex and handling such assignments helped me learn more and more about my state and its people.
Embarking on this career path is truly motivating, especially if you're passionate about resolving people's issues. However, it's worth noting that various other career paths also provide similar opportunities. I personally opted for what resonated with me, and the journey it has taken me on has been nothing short of remarkable.
A timeless memory
Amidst the cherished moments from my journey of service in Bihar, a particularly significant achievement stands out: during my initial assignment as CO in the Barharia block, I successfully facilitated the restoration of a land area spanning 9 kathas 14 dhurs to a deserving family.
There's more to Bihar than meets the eye. My career helped me discover those aspects about my state and I feel grateful for all the incredible opportunities.
(Thank you for sharing your journey with us. We celebrate you. This article features an exclusive account of Mr. Arun Kumar Srivastava's journey as a former civil servant in Bihar.)