Interview with A.K. Mishra, managing director of Chanakya IAS Academy.
The Chanakya IAS Academy in New Delhi is the product of the vision of a man who has institutionalised motivational training through his Art of Success programme. A.K. Mishra, the director of the institute and the brains behind the academy, claims to know the mindset of the administrator or what he calls the administrative software. He has successfully trained over 2,000 candidates to become civil servants. Excerpts from an interview he gave Frontline:
You are the first person to theorise success in a way that no one in the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) coaching circuit has done. How has the response been?
Thank you very much. I have got a very warm welcome and a fabulous response for my Art of Success programme from the youth all over the country.
Wherever I have been, thousands of students and their parents and guardians have participated and sat through my four-to-six-hour-long Art of Success talk. At every venue, the auditorium has always been jam-packed, be it in Bangalore, Patna, Ranchi, Delhi, Jammu, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Pune, Chandigarh or even in a small town such as Hazaribagh in Jharkhand.
Your Art of Success and Human Software Development Programme have been a great success. How have they helped students, especially IAS aspirants?
The Art of Success programme is culled not from books but from my life. My own story is a success story as I come from a tiny village in Jharkhand where people still struggle for their basic necessities. My journey from there to Delhi, my struggles in life and my successes, especially in establishing a leading brand of institute for civil services aspirants, are reflected in my talks.
I always keep a close tab on the personal problems and issues facing students who join the academy. In the past 20 years, I have come across lakhs of students. In fact, my students and the audience created a great laboratory that has helped me deal with human psychology and human problems. The interactions with them have given me a deep understanding of human psychology, especially that of the youth who aspire and struggle to make a career in the civil services.
Through my Human Software Development Programme, I train my audience to reprogramme their minds to achieve their goals. It has worked effectively in the case of civil service aspirants because I train them to reprogramme their minds with administrative traits and develop administrative software to match the expectations of the selection board.
Your coaching is not just about rote learning but also about building better individuals. How have you lived up to the challenges posed by the Union Public Service Commission and the increasing demands of the students?
When I thought of starting an academy to coach civil service aspirants, I wanted to be different and aspired to be a leading brand in this field. I believe in the power of distinction and excellence. It is just a question of realising that potential and working wisely on that. I succeeded because I did just that and I am still working on that. I found in the name Chanakya a visionary, a nationalist, an astute thinker and a real architect of a strong welfare state. Hence, Chanakya became my brand name.
This approach of doing something different made me understand the needs of the students and work on the poor level of motivation. I focussed on raising the levels of my students motivation and shaping their personalities in addition to quality teaching of subjects so that they succeeded not only in their examinations but also in their lives.
I maintain a very skilled research and development team of civil servants, psychologists and examination experts to keep a close track of the changing trends of the civil services examination and keep upgrading the training modules of my academy. For example, our most popular course module the Upgraded Foundation Course focusses not only on the quality teaching of subjects but also on development of administrative traits and training of the necessary skills required in this examination.This programme also helps the students in their careers as civil servants.
You teach people to convert their weaknesses into strengths. How have you translated this into practice?
Success is not about being a perfectionist but about using ones strengths and weaknesses wisely. Even strength is not strength unless it is used prudently. In my case, I never considered my rural background as a weakness. I took it as an opportunity of my life to have a diverse and wide understanding of human life.
This resulted in the Art of Success and Human Software Development Programme.A Special Correspondent