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IAS topper, but no money to travel


After securing the prestigious third rank in Civil Services Exam, 2016, Gopala Krishna Ronanki had another challenge up his sleeve when he suddenly received an invitation from the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) to attend the felicitation ceremony for 20 toppers on June 2 in Delhi.
Son of underprivileged agricultural labourers, Ronanki Appa Rao and Rukminamma, who own just 36 cents (1,742 sq yards) of land, Ronanki, earning a salary of Rs 25,000 a month, had no money to pay for air tickets.
He took the plunge and borrowed Rs 50,000 from someone in the village and came to Delhi, travelling for the first time in an aeroplane with his elder brother R K Konda Rao, who works in the State Bank of India.
Ronanki, 30, who currently teaches in a village primary school, showed no nervousness in the midst of the company of Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh and top bureaucrats while introducing himself as “a product of government schools” who did BSc in Maths, Physics and Chemistry through distant learning because of paucity of money.
Ronanki set his sights on civil services in 2006 when he got a teaching job that ensured him some kind of financial security.
“I did a two-year teachers’ training course at Dubacharla in west Godavari district and was selected as a government teacher in 2006. Getting a job was my priority as I had to earn my own livelihood,” said Ronanki.
He could not succeed in first three attempts and decided to take the challenge with Telugu literature, considered very difficult, as the optional subject. He had to study all by himself as there was no academy or coaching centre offering Telugu literature, and for rest of the subjects the fee was too high.
Thankfully, he was allowed by UPSC to appear for the personality test in Telugu. “With the help of an interpreter, I could face the interview boldly,” he said.
Ronanki, who hails from the backward district of Srikakulam of Andhra, is clear headed and wants to correct the system to bring in prosperity among the poor masses and work for women empowerment with innovative ideas.
He attributes his success to the hard work of his parents and elder brother Konda Rao.