Rural Roots to Harvard: A Journey of Learning, Challenges and Success

By Jarnail Singh IAS (Retd)

THIS MEMOIR TRACES the remarkable journey of a boy born to illiterate parents. It begins in 1954 at a Jand tree school located in a remote village of the Malwa region of Punjab. The narrative continues as he advances through engineering studies, joins the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), works in the remote hill areas of Manipur, and ultimately pursues a Master’s in Public Administration at Harvard University in the USA.

The book offers an intimate portrayal of his challenging upbringing, the obstacles he faced during his academic pursuits and professional endeavours, the pivotal incidents and transformative moments that altered the trajectory of his life, and the individuals who provided steadfast support and encouragement at various junctures.

The book also provides vivid insights into the rural life of Punjab during the 1950s, while underscoring the message that unwavering determination and persistent efforts can pave the path to success.

The author highlights the need to embrace life’s twists and turns with a positive attitude. He served in challenging capacities as a Sub-Divisional Officer (SDO) and Deputy Commissioner (DC) in the demanding hill districts of Manipur, at the Centre in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) where he worked with four successive Prime Ministers, and then as Chief Secretary of Manipur.

His academic pursuits, including his time at Harvard, bolstered his self-confidence. Through his journey, the author emphasises that success in public service demands not only administrative acumen but also a blend of compassion and intellect. Ultimately, a sincere passion for one’s work, coupled with valuable qualities of both head and heart, defines the path to success and personal fulfillment.

After completing his MSc in Electrical Engineering with distinction from Panjab University, Jarnail Singh joined the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) in 1974 and was allotted the Manipur-Tripura cadre. He also did a Master’s in Public Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, USA, while in service.

Throughout his distinguished career, Singh has held significant positions, including Joint Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office (1996–2004), where he served under four Prime Ministers—H.D. Deve Gowda, I.K. Gujral, A.B. Vajpayee and Dr Manmohan Singh. He also served as Chief Secretary of Manipur (2004–2008), Secretary to the Government of India and Advisor (Infrastructure and Power) to the Chief Minister Manipur (2012–2017). He was appointed as the Administrator of Manipur University by the Hon’ble High Court of Manipur from 2018 to 2020.

He is a recipient of the ‘Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Public Administration for the Year 2007–08’.

Singh has four books to his credit. Currently, he serves as the CEO of Project Appraisal Consultants LLP, which conducts capacity-building programmes and provides consultancy services in project appraisal, risk analysis and risk management.

You can order the book on Amazon India or Flipkart

Binding: Hardcover

Publication Date: April 2024