Md Farrukh Ilyas Of lockdown and the hope of reaching home June 4, 2020

The pandemic has engulfed us all into its brazen clusters. We all have options, that too, only social distancing. The only panacea is seen for now. Amidst the lockdown and its consequences fetched from all the contours of life and different walks of people, everything and everyone waiting with the yearnings of hopeful eyes from the government, presuming a sigh of relief would encounter the courage to live a life once again with hope and freedom.

We all are scuffing through different memories and jotting down the introspections in the Lockdown diaries. To me and this memory of lockdown, there happened an indomitable spirit of inspiration from the call of my distress to go back to my home district from my university campus. Who knows what are we all here for?

We clasp dreams and we aspire to become one, for the staunchest belief, one day or day one. We all read stories about the bureaucracy and officers in the system every other day. We hear, and we subscribe to both the stories of bureaucratic life and those of great help and inspirations. My one here transpired to be the later one.

I shall take this all along the path of my life to making it the foundational values of giving to the society for the cause of another dreamer to dream and a believer to believe that not all officers are synonyms to ignorance and to the sufferings of an individual, but some of them are beyond the lines of the definition of being one. Some of them are the stimulating factors of making you believe that a public servant is all for your help, support, and you shall be inspired to dare to live the same virtues of life to carry forward the message and the service to society ahead. They make you believe the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) is a life worth to live for.

As the probability of the lockdown seemed to get slightly longer, and the students here were feeling distressed with no effective qualitative activities as the academic session was suspended till further notice by the varsity administration, the campus was being evacuated. Next, the students packed their bags, and planned to head to their homes.

The administration was working to manage the evacuation of the students from different states in coordination with the respective authorities alongside. And I come from West Bengal state. I was looking for the updates from the governing authorities, but had a hard time to have one. To this distress and tiresome situation, running office to office, I started dialing numbers of the representatives of my state. I tried to manage the phone contacts of different MLAs and MPs from my state, and especially from my district, Uttar Dinajpur.

I was in hope of a deliberative and exemplary role of a leader in the time of wee hours to assist the individuals with distress, and was presuming that this would be upheld. Why shall not one be so much hopeful? I study governance, policymaking, and the cross-check of power and politics in a democracy. But, in the end, it was just yet another call of distress and broken heart of believing again in the rhetorical sermons.

Amidst all the failures of not having any clue, trying to escalate the issues to the top representatives of the state, the calls went unanswered. By then I was of the opinion that my hope is overrated, and the expectations I had were futile. At last, I took to Twitter, and tweeted my concern to different political leaders.

There were no responses until a name struck hard to me with a promising note, Naveen Chandra IAS, an Indian Administrative Service officer of 2018 batch currently posted in Malda, West Bengal. I tweeted him asking and pleading him for help, he immediately responded and asked me to take this further over the direct message. He provided me with his contact number.

I dialed his number, and this was the beginning of all I read about being an IAS officer, and wishing to join the prestigious job of UPSC. The conversation lasted for a few minutes, listening carefully to all what I had to say, recommending me prompt help, supporting me, and making sure the problem doesn’t take a toll on me, assuring a well-determined elder brother touch with the words of help and a sigh of relief.

“I am personally not assigned to these duties, but since you have written to me in person, that has become my call to address the issue, you guys are mature, don’t panic, we will bring all of you back from the campus. Are there any problems with food? I shall send my friends to you, guys, there at the campus, my friends are there in the city, they shall visit you all whenever you guys need to. Have patience, we are all with you,” he said on the last note of the call.

He had earlier helped us manage to send our details to our state’s concerned authorities for the arrangements of our evacuations, it was not easy for me to seek and perturb an IAS officer again when we all were the AMU Bengal students taking the harrowing journey on the special train, and we were out of water and food in the scorching heat. It was then him, who directly called me after he was tagged in a distress tweet by my colleague. 

He inquired about the details, and expressed concern that I should have asked for help immediately as I was having his phone number. He managed to track down the special train as we failed because it was a special train whose feeds were not updated online. He informed us that the train shall stop in Rourkela, Odisha. And Somesh Jha Upadhya IAS shall help to manage our food and water. And we were served with food packets and water bottles at the station as promised by him. It was then again, for the truest feeling, the official song of LBSNAA was echoing hard enough in my ears and mind with the greatest gratitude.

Similarly, with the utmost belief, care and love, a WBCS executive officer from West Bengal, Mr Asif Eqbal approached me through a Facebook post when we sought help to reach our state’s respective districts. He went into the breadth and length to assist us with the immediate help of getting us in touch with Nodal Officer, Prabhat Mishra IAS, with whom I had words, expressed our concern and pleaded to get us out of our campus, and send us home. And after a few days, a special train was scheduled.

The officers took the helm of proving themselves to be effectively efficient and addressed the distressful call of a student, making him believe yet again, to never lose hope from the desk of civil servants and state commission officers, and to never ignore the application of what you read rationally.

From this gesture of ambition and help I was assured the young minds of the nation should opt for the service, after all, what can be better than leaving behind a smile of satisfaction by the act of its service on an individual’s face?

Md Farrukh Ilyas is a political science student at Aligarh Muslim University. The views expressed here are from his own personal experience.

Cover Image by DiChatz on Unsplash.

If reading would only be a thing in life to aim for, I wouldn't deny this universe to make it a heaven. A political science student from Aligarh Muslim University. His work has appeared in Newslaundry, Newsd, among other publications. He can be reached on Twitter: @amufarrukh

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