Surendra Singh, a mathematics post-graduate from Allahabad University, had made up his mind to join the civil services early in his life. India had won her independence only about six years before he went to the university. The ability to contribute to nation building of the newly independent country drew him to this decision. Other options, like joining the corporate sector, did not appeal to him. Moreover, his father Sumer Singh, an engineer educated at Thomson College of Civil Engineering (now Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkie), knew what the IAS stood for and was in favour of him trying for the elite service. “All of us in the family agreed that I should try to join the civil service,” the 1959-batch Uttar Pradesh cadre IAS, who in August 1994 rose to be the Cabinet Secretary, the highest administrative post in the country, recollects.