Partha Sarathi Sen Sharma : IAS , 1994 batch , UP cadre, author

 The HJS caught up with the civil servant turned author and asked him about his journey as an IAS officer and author, his inspirations for the same, and the challenges that can come with them. (Interviewed on 21st December 2022)

HJS: Phase I is currently underway. Tell us about the most memorable phase I experience.

Partha Sir(PS) : In my time, we had the mountaineering expedition towards the end of phase one, where we summited Bandarpunch. That has to be my most memorable experience.

 HJS : If you had a time machine to go back to a particular phase of your training period, which one would you go back to

PS: Trekking expedition and the village visit, because I enjoyed the most there and made the closest of friends during that time.

 HJS : Tell us a bit about your Bharat Darshan experience

PS: In our time, we travelled to various sectors, that is a particular part of Bharat. Our army attachment was in Kashmir and we visited the western part of India. We went to MH, Gujarat etc. We also had an NGO attachment. We thoroughly enjoyed every moment.

 HJS : How do you think the OTs can best utilize the learnings picked up from Bharat Darshan?

PS: Keep your eyes, ears and mind open. You will realize that India lives in many centuries at once. It is a testament to our great diversity. We should not reject things that are not like us. The same can be said about district training experience.

 HJS : Has Bharat Darshan helped develop your love for travel and
travelogue writing?

PS: I don’t think so, as I started writing many years after my Bharat Darshan. But maybe subconsciously, it could have left a mark. Very much possible. My first serious writing was when I was in foreign training in Europe

 HJS : What made you want to be a serious writer ?

PS: I used to do some writing for newspapers, magazines etc. And during my travels , when I had the many experiences, I felt I should write to record my experiences. I also felt not many Indians end up writing about their travels and the perspectives of the West. This together sort of culminated in me taking up serious writing.

 HJS : Do you get to write every day ?

PS : I wish I could say I write every day, but it all depends on the mind space and time constraints of the assignment I am in at that moment. I write longhand on a piece of paper and then I type it out myself later. So, typing becomes my second draft.

 HJS : Common pitfalls for new/aspiring writers ?

PS : One thing is that many give up even before writing their first book. Another common pitfall is to go for self-publishing or to settle down for a publisher that has no reach. One should wait to get a good publisher. During my first book, I made tis mistake and went to the very first publisher I could find. But one needs patience in these things. One must read a lot to be able to write well. Wide reading is very necessary for all aspiring writers.

 HJS : Some
notable books that you read that helped you in the process you just mentioned ?

PS : In fiction, I immensely enjoyed Amitav Ghosh – Glass Palace, The Hungry Tide. Jhumpa Lahiri is another author I’ve enjoyed. In nonfiction and travelogues, Eric Newbie and Paul Theroux are the ones I remember. I believe all civil servants should read Philip Mason’s “The Men who ruled India”.

 HJS : If you ever wrote under a penname, what would It be and why ?

PS : “Fly on the wall” would be my penname, because I enjoy observing things and have my own perspective on things.

 HJS : Challenges of being a serving IAS officer and an author at the same time?

PS: If one is an upright officer, one can face many challenges. We cannot go for book promotions because we are always short of time. One must not misuse their office for book promotions. But being in the service gives you myriad of experiences. You also have to careful as people will not tend to be critical about your work in front of you, so it’s difficult to get genuine feedback.


HJS : How do you manage your time ?

PS : In travelogues, while travelling I would jot down the points. I am normally are not able to write down the whole narrative while travelling.

I wish I could manage my time better, but it has always been a struggle and it depends much on the type of assignment I’m in.

 HJS : Most interesting assignment as IAS officer ?

PS : Secretary to CM of UP was an interesting one due to the varied experiences I had.

 HJS : Some advice for OTs starting out their career ?

PS : Learn to listen. Learn not to reject people just because they are not like you. Don’t reject people just because they are politicians or businessmen or middlemen. Battling your biases is very important.