How tough is it to crack IAS exams? Know from Md. Ali Shihab, who cleared IAS staying in an orphanage in Kerala


Journey from orphanages to Indian Civil Service was not easy for Mohammed Ali Shihab. This IAS from a remote village of Malappuram district in Kerala, who grew up in an orphanage, has a story of struggle to tell.

Born in a village known as Edavannappara near Kondotty, Shihab spent his childhood helping his father Ali, to sell betel leaves and bamboo baskets. The family made its living from a makeshift paan shop in their village Edavannappara in Malappuram, and Shihab shared a two-room house with four siblings, including a brother and three sisters.

Shihab was a student of Class V when his father Koroth Ali died. His mother Fathima, a housewife, had no means to feed the children. ‘As a last option, mother took me and my two younger sisters to a Muslim-managed orphanage in Kozhikode district in 1991’, recalls Shihab. Fathima’s only comfort was that her children were good at studies.

During his orphanage days, Shihab was inspired by some of his teachers who loved him and cared for him. The discipline at orphanage had helped him to secure good marks in SSLC. He stopped the pre-degree (equivalent of higher secondary) course half-way and joined for a teacher’s training course. [pullquote-left]Before clearing IAS, Shihab cleared 21 Public Service Commission Exams. During his struggle, he took various jobs such as school teacher, unskilled labourer, pump operator, helper in hotel, clerk and assistant in a school[/pullquote-left]The orphanage authorities readmitted him for pre-degree course in the second year. After pre-degree, Shihab was shifted to Bafakhi Orphanage at Valavannur and he joined its school as a primary teacher. During this period, he started preparing for competitive examinations. He had little money to buy books but he read and assimilated whatever books that came his way. He appeared in twenty one Public Service Commission tests and passed them all. In the meantime, he tried his hand at many jobs. He worked as an unskilled labourer for different organizations, pump operator for Kerala Water Authority, helper in a hotel, clerk in a panchayat office and assistant in a government school.

 I wanted to achieve something high to inspire my thousands of friends out there in orphanages. Children of rural areas have great strengths. We should explore their potential. And they can certainly make it to the top – Mohammed Ali Shihab

He got his BA degree in history by writing the exams privately. It was his brother, who directed his mind towards Civil Services. Shihab’s confidence was boosted up by Aboobacker Siddique, an IAS topper from Malappuram. ‘He boosted my confidence level by giving me training for 10 days. And I scored 201 out of 300 marks in interview, which was quite good’, said Shihab. Mohammed Ali Shihab ranked 226th on the list in UPSC exam. He feels that his life of struggles may turn out to be his strongest point. ‘I can better grasp grass-root level concerns’, he said.

Watch this video in Malayalam by director Santosh PD to know about the inspiring story of Mohammed Ali Shihab IAS.

Orphanage- to- IAS: Muhammed Ali Shihab IAS

Courtesy : ViCTERS Educational Channel

You may also like...

3 Responses


    Dear.Recpected Brother assalamo alaikum………heartely congratulation you with your all family thanks for excellent post of indian administrative service. i proud of you. from md. moinuddin ahmed village dumra post dumra anchal amba kutumba ps amba district aurangabad state bihar pin code 824111,contact no;09971645340/09871681380,,,,,,,,,thanks you,and with warms best regards.

  2. Tomaski says:

    Thanks for sharing this excellent post. Very interesting ideas! (as always, btw)

  3. Pradeep says:

    Real Inspiration.