Hyderabad: Guguloth Shankar Naik is probably the first one with a doctorate from his community to become one among the new Telangana State Information Officers, appointed on February 10. Hailing from Bavojigudam village, under Maripeda Mandal in Mahabubabad district, Shankar’s rise from a non-privileged background to become a government official serving Telangana state is a story full of struggles.

With a humble upbringing, with both parents into daily wage agricultural labour, money was always a problem to Naik’s family. “It would be an understatement if we said struggle. We literally spared no effort to make ends meet, and my parents, despite their shortcomings, made sure that I got educated,” says 33-year-old Shankar.

Shankar’s story is evidence of the fact if given the time and space to get properly educated, students from marginalized communities can move forward and earn a post in the government services. Walking around 15 kilometres to and fro, to get proper schooling seemed like a necessity, he says. With proper encouragement from his parents, Shankar went on to take an M.Phil and a doctorate on the topic, ‘Tribal culture and lifestyle’ from Osmania University.

He was awarded the doctorate in the year 2019. An alumnus of University of Hyderabad, Shankar Naik took his master’s degree in Telugu from University of Hyderabad. “Hyderabad Central University was a turning point in my life. At that time, the spark of Telangana agitation was brewing among the students. Even I took part in these ‘padayatras’ where we walked for maybe 400 kilometres, from Osmania University to Warangal. It was a cause that I felt that I should stand by,” says the officer.

Fast forward to the present, his entry into TRS politics further paved the way for his appointment as one among the five newly appointed Telangana State Information Commissioners. “In my village, most people are illiterate. They haven’t heard of an RTI, or what benefits it can bring. Even my parents do not have an idea about this. But they know that my hard work has finally bore fruit. I had earlier turned down a police constable post in 2008, hoping to get into a higher post. Now, with this appointment, I hope will be able to bring forward more people from my community to get empowered,” signed off Shankar Naik.

Amritha Mohan

Amritha Mohan is a reporter at the NewsMeter. Shortly after completing her Master's in Communication at the University of Hyderabad, she began teaching courses on media and culture as a guest lecturer at the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, North-Eastern Hill University (NEHU), Shillong. Amritha has previously interned with news organisations such as Greater Kashmir and Newslaundry. A lover of travel and photography, she spends most of her time planning road trips to the North-East. Nothing makes her happier than a green turf and a team to play football with. She primarily reports on education, tech, human-interesting and critical features.

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