Colors of Courage: Himanshu Gupta’s journey from running a tea stall with his dad to becoming an IAS officer
Here is an inspiring story of IAS officer Himanshu Gupta who regales you with his mesmerizing journey.
We all adore the world of glitz and glamour, yet the real magic is often found off-screen in seemingly ordinary lives. So, Pinkvilla is thrilled to present you with our new section – Colours of Courage, inspired by the extraordinarily powerful stories of people who have battled fate to shape their own destinies. With these stories of courage, we offer you a glimpse into the lives of people from all walks of life and their heart-warming journeys that shall enchant you. Today, we would love for you to join us as we tip our hat to IAS officer Himanshu Gupta and regale you with his mesmerizing journey.
Himanshu Gupta once travelled 70kms everyday to attend school. Life changed for the youth hailing from Sitaraganj in Uttarakhand in 2020, when he topped the UPSC CSE without any formal coaching. He recalls spending childhood days watching his father work as a daily wage earner to barely make ends meet. Despite of all the hardships, his parents always focussed on his education.
“From the beginning you see your parents working, whichever situation they are in to always prioritize your education. They made sure that I was never under any bad influence and taught me how to be satisfied and contented with whatever I had, and always made me look forward for new things in life.”
There was a brief period during which Himanshu’s father ran a tea stall just outside his home. Together they’d run the shop. He confesses, “I used to think that nobody in my school will get to know that I work with my father but they always knew it. When I’d notice my classmates passing by our tea stall, I’d hide. One day eventually somebody told the entire class. After that, I started seeing the class from a different point of view, in an embarrassed state.”
2006 saw Himanshu’s family move to Sirauli in Bareilly where his father opened up a general store and the family lives there to this day. Back then, Himanshu helped his father run the store but always dreamt of making a better life for himself and his family. As the nearest English medium school was 35 km away, he’d travel 70 km each day just for basic education. “I knew that if I’d study hard, I’d get admission into a reputed university. I didn’t speak English and so, I’d rent English movie DVDs from a neighboring shop and watch them to learn the language,” he smiles nostalgically.
“I remember cherishing it so much. I’d also use Papa’s old phone with a 2G connection to find colleges seeking admission. Fortunately, I could score decent in my board exams to get into Hindu College, Delhi University!” Getting in DU was a life altering experience for Himanshu.
However, being in unfamiliar surroundings amongst students who spoke and carried themselves confidently, Himanshu he considered himself weak. “I was no match for their oratory skills, academic and non-academic accolades, among others. But I was there to learn. And that’s what I did; I’d study, travel, and interact. I was on an exploration spree,” he said. He even took the responsibility to fund his own education. “I’d earn through giving private tuitions and writing paid blogs. This and few governments annual scholarships allowed me to sustain myself.
“After 3 years, I graduated out of Hindu College with flying colors. My parents aren’t expressive people, but I knew they were proud,” he affirms. His passion for education and zeal to succeed saw him forge ahead as he pursued his Masters from DU and topped the university, again. His efforts during his Masters, soon bore fruit for he was offered a handsome scholarship to pursue his PhD in a reputed foreign university.
His dreams were finally starting to take a shape, but due to familial responsibilities he chose to stay back. “I had no idea what to do next. It came as a shock for everyone including my professors who wrote excellent recommendations for me. It became so difficult with that anxiety, that I started questioning myself about my decision. After that, I just packed by bags and left my hostel,” he says. “I couldn’t go back to my hometown because it would have been even more difficult to face my parents at this point of time. So, I just left everything behind, even my phone, and went to Kullu at my friend’s place to stay. For almost 4.5 months I was just figuring out what to do next by taking out time for myself.
”After months of relentless pondering, Himanshu resolved to join the Civil Services. “The Civil services wasn’t my childhood dream, but on ground I could actually help people and it gave me an opportunity where there was further scope of learning,” he said. But, a lack of funds for the massive coaching fees and a long-held belief in self-study compelled him to turn to self-study. “I failed the first time I wrote UPSC CSE. I was devastated. For the first time I thought, ‘Did I gave up my career for nothing. Maybe I can’t do this.’ But I wasn’t a quitter!”
He put his disappointment aside and began work as a research scholar in a MPhil program in Gwalior. The JRF fellowship allowed him to support his family and sustain himself. “I’d spend time in the mornings to study for my civil exams and I’d do my research work during the day for over a year,” he adds that he gave CSE 2018 and was allocated IRTS but he wasn’t content. His goal was to be an IAS.
His attempt in 2019 saw him became an IPS officer. But he wouldn’t back down and gave an attempt in 2020, which saw him become an IAS officer. He bubbled, “I teared up when Maa told me, ‘What better gift for parents then to be known by their children’s name!” After that day there was no looking back for Himanshu. “When I joined my training in 2021, I got to learn so many life skills. It was a very transformative experience for me!” he remarks.
One of the few men who rewrite their own destiny, Himanshu Gupta has always believed in self- efficacy. “It’s better to stop looking for answers and cherish the sheer joy in doing something. The process itself is very comforting,” he explains.
He has a special message for youngsters who wish to build successful careers. “Work hard and do not bother so much about the outcome. Start practicing the process. Do not worry about the fact weather you’ll clear an exam or not, you will eventually figure out a way for yourself as long as you believe you are on the right track. Do not let the weight of the world bring you down. Take some hobby, be with people who keep you motivated and give exams your best shot!” he signs off.