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His Eminence, Oswald Cardinal Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, has often emphasised the importance of serving the nation, especially through the Civil Services and the Armed Forces.  His dearest wish is to enthuse the youth to contribute to nation-building, and it was in fulfilment of this that the Archdiocese of Bombay, in collaboration with Take Charge (Civil Services & Armed Forces Wing), organised a Seminar on March 18, 2018, at Archbishop’s House, Fort, Mumbai to provide a platform for young aspirants to explore the opportunities open to them in this area.

The 32 eager aspirants – some accompanied by their parents - were already enthusiastic about serving society and this seminar provided the opportunity for them to interact with members from the Civil Services and Armed Forces, allowing them to raise questions and clarify doubts regarding the exams and related challenges.  They also came face to face with the joy and pride that comes from serving the country as the speakers voiced their testimonies.

The panel comprised:

Chief Speakers: His Eminence, Oswald Cardinal Gracias, Air Vice Marshal Michael Fernandez, Addl. Commissioner of Police Mr Jaya Kumar IPS.  Mr Julio Ribeiro IPS (retd.), Mr Michael Pinto IAS (retd.), Mr Ronnie Mendonca IPS (retd.), Mr Arvind Pinto IRS (retd.)

Mr Roger Pereira, representing Take Charge, welcomed His Eminence and the Speakers. The aspirants then introduced themselves and mentioned their reasons for taking part in the seminar.

The Cardinal, while addressing the attendees, praised the aspirants for having a clear vision as to their future, and went on to stress the importance of ‘thinking and planning’ and the desire to serve the community and country.

Mr Roger Pereira provided a brief overview of Take Charge, the main thrust being mentoring which is now also extended to those interested in Civil Services and the Armed Forces. The session was taken forward by Air Vice Marshal Michael Fernandez, who spoke about his schooling, youth and how and why he finally joined the Air Force. He explained the selection procedure in detail, the tasks involved, the training given to the candidates at the National Defence Academy (NDA), including the paragliding, swimming and riding!AVM Fernandez who has 36 years’ service, stressed the importance of ‘enjoying your job’. He spoke of the many advantages the journey entails, along with its obstacles.In conclusion, he read a short article by the NGO ‘SAATH’ based on their consultations with the youth in Gujarat and Rajasthan, involving various factors that motivate the youth, their desire to do something for the community and possess a distinct identity.

The next speaker, Addl. Commissioner of Police Mr. Jaya Kumar IPS spoke at length about:the selection procedure for Civil Services: the various questions asked during the interview and the way they are asked (which include written exams, personality test, stress interview by the panel); the education system and the UPSC syllabus and the changes that it has gone through  over the years; the need to understand the system for clearing the exams. He advised the aspirants to be mentally prepared for every challenge that they would have to face and to make a difference in terms of their service.

Mr Arvind Pinto IRS (retd) gave a brief overview of the Income Tax Department. Mr Ronnie Mendonca IPS (retd.) shared his personal experience about the corruption that exists in the country and his fight for justice, which he eventually won. He stressed the importance of doing the right thing and supporting the people who, in turn, will support you when required. Mr Julio Ribeiro IPS (retd.), spoke of his term on the Police Force and on what motivated him to join. He stressed that service is the true motivation and that ‘TRUTH-JUSTICE-SERVICE’ comes naturally to Catholics. Every Catholic must put this into practice when they join the Civil Services or Armed Forces

A ‘Q & A’ session followed the talks, with questions being addressed to the panel by the aspirants and their parents, which helped to clear doubts. To facilitate a more in-depth interaction, it was indicated thatMr. Brian Almeida would set up a forum where the aspirants could send in their questions, which would be then answered by the Panel. It was also announced that Citizencredit Co-operative Bank Ltd would be glad to provide financial aid to deserving candidates.

The seminar concluded with Mr Roger Pereira giving the Vote of Thanks to the panel of speakers and the aspirants for their presence and active participation. The candidates continued to interact on a one-on-one basis after the event – a personal experience which they were very glad to take away from the event.


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