To dream big is everyone’s right. No matter who you are or what you are. At the end of the day, all that counts is your efforts to realise your dreams. When Namma Mysuru’s Chinmay Somashekar says ‘What you believe is what you become’, it is not without a reason. It is exactly this strong belief that helped him clear UPSC exams – the mother of all exams –with flying colours. “Yes, it is tough which requires sheer hard work, persistence and patience to crack it. Some consider it as too much for themselves and don’t give it a try, but nothing is impossible and if I can do it, anyone else out there willing to work hard with determination can be successful in it. It not only requires clear understanding of the subject but also one’s perception about certain issues. UPSC is like an ocean, we must be jack of all subjects and master of a few along with an open mindset to adopt and answer various questions from the broad spectrum of information,” Chinmay says, while trying to drive home a point.
When the obvious question pops up, the Assistant Commandant in CRPF at Bokaro, Chinmay is ready to take you down the memory lane. Early days at Nanjangud, the famous temple town, remain etched in youngster’s mind. Watching grandfather Maribasappa, a professor of history and English, teaching his students about India’s freedom struggle and how the country developed over the years, little did Chinmay know what his grandfather was talking could be a strong guiding force. Knowingly or unknowingly, Maribasappa had sown the seeds of urge in the youngster to join the forces. On the other hand, grandmother Ambuja’s love, Chinmay says, is any day unmatched. “The ability to care for others and to find happiness in making others happy is a value I learnt from her. After we shifted to Mysuru, school became prominent. Though I was not the brightest topper, I was an obedient and curious child who liked to grasp things,” Chinmay sets the perfect tone for conversation.
Time and again, the Assistant Commandant recalls his school days at JSS Public School where he studied class 1 to 10. The school, which always sets high standards for the students, helped Chinmay inculcate moral values along with patriotism and love for the nation. Not to forget the famous Vidyavardhaka College of Engineering where Chinmay pursued Electronics and Communication. Professionals to the core, the lecturers at the college supported and guided the youngster when it came to career choices. The results are showing now.
On the positive side, resilient in his approach, Chinmay takes what comes in his way and tries to make the best out of it. Negatives, if there are any, the Assistant Commandant says he tends to believe people at first instance. “Now I take things more cautiously – I guess the cop mentality has kicked in,” he says with a smile on his face. Though early days in his career, Chinmay may have mastered a few things in life, he knows there are many more that he needs to conquer. If he has to make a few sacrifices in the process, the Mysurean doesn’t mind.
Tell us something about your parents, siblings. What was your parents’ impact when you were young?
Both my parents work – father ( Somashekar T S) in Oriental Insurance and mother (Shylaja AM) in LIC. They have supported me throughout in my choices, stood by me as guiding lights. They have helped me understand my strengths and weaknesses and uplifted me, encouraged me in times of failures. They have raised me as an independent person, always let me to explore the world around and to decide upon my interests. My father said this to me before the 12th board exams, “No matter how many times we ask you to study, at the end of the day, it’s your result which will impact your life.” The result was that I went on to become my college topper, securing 96% in PUC.
He wanted me to pursue MS abroad, but I chose to prepare for UPSC and supported me with this decision. Now my parents feel proud to see me in uniform. My mother used to be anxious about my job, now she is used to the risky profile of it. I have one younger brother who is pursuing triple major BA at St Josephs, Bengaluru. We have fought a lot, but we are a team when the adversary is someone else – a typical older younger brother relation.
Something about VVCE. Did it help you in furthering your career?
The four years of engineering at VVCE was an eye opener. We became men from boys. We matured to realise the practical reality of how the society works. VVCE has been a platform for any individual develpoment. Principal Sadashivegowda and our Electronics and communication HoD always encouraged us in all the fields – be it in cultural activities, technical workshops, personal issues, placements and other career options. I thank them for all the effort they have put towards buliding our careers.
One teacher you always looked to when you were studying?
Sarala Bhatt mam in school who used to take science was the one I would look up to who moulded us and nurtured us to grow up to be responsible citizens. She stressed on the importance of being truthful and honest to oneself. There were many more like Radhika and Shivganga mam in school, Shabbir sir who used to coach me for UPSC and others who have played various roles in buliding up my knowledge.
Was choosing defence by choice or chance?
I would say it as 99% as choice but 1% as chance. It was my choice to study for UPSC exams and since lakhs of people write it across the country, clearing it comes under the slight percentage of chance.
What is your nature of job at CRPF?
CRPF’s mandate is to handle internal security of the country. Law and order according to the constitution is under state list, so the first responders of any crisis will be the state police. When it goes out of their control, the centre comes into play and the situation is tackled by CRPF which has better resources and are equipped to handle crisis situations as compared to the state police. For example let’s take the recent Cauvery issue. The crowd goes out of control and CRPF was called in. Rapid action force (RAF) which comes under CRPF was put into action and law and order was restored. Three main conflict theatres in our country – The red corridor (Naxalism), The J&K terriorism and the North Eastern insurgency are handled by CRPF. COBRA (Combat batallion for resolute action) has been raised as part of CRPF, specifically to tackle Naxalism and are trained in Guerilla warfare. I’m appointed as DAGO (Directly appointed gazetted officer) in CRPF which comes under Group A central government service under Ministry of Home Affairs. I’m in the rank of Assistant Commandant and my present post is that of Company Commander. I have under me 135 men in various ranks of Inspectors, SI and constables. My duty includes that of financial and personal administration, procurement, development and security of the company and carrying out various combat operations against ANEs ( Anti- National Elements).
Is it not tough to work in defence?
The level of toughness depends on the individual. If you are interested in adventure, like to be physically fit and want to be mentally challenging, you get used to the defence way of life. If you are a regular desk work job person who likes to have a routine and is comfortable within the walls, the defence is not for that person.
We live and survive in various terrains and weather conditions with minimum resources during operations, so yes it is tough when you compare with other jobs but it has its own sense of pride and happiness that comes along by serving our country.
You are also a sportsman? What sports do you play?
Yes, I have been a sportsman right from my schooldays. I was the captain of my school and playing football has been a part of my life from the very beginning.
I have been into athletics and I’m a sprinter. Sport is an integral part of forces and I play volleyball and other team games inside our camp.
Something about Mysuru. Anything special.
For me Mysuru is heaven on earth. I grew up in this place. My whole eduction till engineering has been in mysuru. I have been to most parts of the country except the NE and I find Mysuru as serene peaceful land with wonderful good people who are satisfied, down to earth, soft spoken and kind hearted. I don’t say these because I belong to Mysuru but because of my experience of travelling to other places.
I feel proud that it has earned the cleanest city in the country, rich in heritage and culture and has always been appealing to the tourists far and near.
During my jungle survival exercises, I used to remember the good old Mysurue days – Family visits to the palace or KRS or the hanging out places for friends, the chamundi hills and masala dosas at mylari. I will keep coming back to this place no matter where I will be posted and hopefully someday I will settle down at our very own beautiful city.