21-year-old BSc student teaches IAS aspirants online, buys Rs 10 lakh car, stuns teachers

Sayooj S Chandran with his new car. Photo: Special arrangement.

Kasaragod: Late Tuesday evening, assistant professor Shinosh Skariachan phoned his final-year undergraduate student Sayooj S Chandran and asked him not to miss the deadline the next day to submit his microbiology record.
Sayooj told his teacher that he would not be coming to college on Wednesday because he was going to buy a car. "I was taken aback. Why should a diligent student like him skip college if his parents are buying a car? I insisted that he cannot make that an excuse to miss the deadline," said Dr Skariachan.

But what Sayooj said not only stunned his teacher but made him an instant celebrity in St Pius X College in Rajapuram, a remote hill village in Kasaragod. Sayooj, the final-year undergraduate student of BSc (Microbiology) said he was buying the car and not his parents. And he paid the full amount of nearly Rs 10 lakh from his pocket.

Sayooj became the toast of the college not because he bought the car but how he bought the car. Unknown to his teachers and friends in the college, Sayooj was running a successful IAS coaching channel on YouTube. The classes delved into current affairs, the civil service aptitude test (CSAT), history, geography, and general Studies. "I initially started the channel as a way to share what I learned with other aspirants so that I would not forget what I learned. A way to revise," said Sayooj, who will appear for his first Civil Service Examination (CSE) conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) in May 2025. He earned the money to buy the car with just one year of running the private channel -- IAS Hub Malayalam.

He has college teachers, government clerks, IT professionals, chemical engineers, homemakers and college-goers as his students, said Dr Asha Chacko of the Department of Chemistry. She was the only teacher in the college who knew what Sayooj was up to. "We have many students who aspire to be IAS and IPS officers but no one like Sayooj who taught so well even while being a student," said the teacher.

Made content from newspapers
Sayooj's father P Chandran (59) is a retired Armyman, and his mother Sathi Chandran (49) is a social worker and also an MNREGS supervisor. He did his schooling at Chattanchal Higher Secondary School in Chemnad panchayat and at Swamijis Higher Secondary School in his village Edneer in Chengala panchayat. After class 12 in 2022, he attempted the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) to become a doctor. He could not crack the exam.

In 2022, he joined St Pius X College in Kallar panchayat's Rajapuram, nearly 35km from his house. "It was the only college offering a UG programme in microbiology. I wanted to study something closer to medical science," he said.

But once in college, his ambition changed. He wanted to become an IAS officer. He bought the e-paper subscriptions of two English dailies. He started making notes. "Initially, I found the jaw-breaking words in the papers difficult," he said. To overcome that, Sayooj started reading English novels, watching English movies, and listening to speeches of External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Congress leader Shashi Tharoor. "I love Jaishankar's speeches. But we need not speak like them. We just need to communicate well. The content should be our focus," he said.

Sayooj Chandran with his teacher Dr Asha Chacko on the corridors of St Pius X College, Rajapuram. Photo: George Poikayil

He is following the path of Akshat Jain who secured second rank in CSE 2018 after preparing for a year. "Akshat said we can effectively make use of the free-of-cost content available on the internet to crack the CSE," he said.
In eight months, Sayooj "comprehensively covered" courses on current affairs, aptitude tests, history, geography, and general studies offered by 'Physics Wallah' on YouTube. He started learning sociology because microbiology was not an optional subject for CSE. He also completed the NCERT syllabus (classes 6 to 12). "Around 90 per cent of the General Studies questions are from NCERT syllabus," he said.

But to stay on top, he starts reading the two newspapers on his iPad at 7 am during the bus ride to the college and whenever he gets a break in the college. "I will complete the two papers before I return home around 7 pm," he said.
Back home, he would prepare his notes based on the news reports, make video PPTs and upload them on his channel. "I then share the link with my subscribers on our WhatsApp and Telegram groups," he said.

Initially, Sayooj started 'SC IAS Academy' after his name Sayooj Chandran. Then he realised that an "academy" is too pompous a tag. So he renamed the channel as 'IAS Hub Malayalam'.
His classes are slow-paced and in Malayalam, and he repeats a lot. His notes are in English. Once a week, he conducts analyses of the week's news reports. In two months, he started getting 10,000 views. He started a Telegram group to share his notes. "It was more of a community of IAS aspirants," he said.
The members told Sayooj that his notes were too good and they were ready to pay for it. That's when he took his YouTube channel private.

Sayooj Chandran in the library of St Pius X College Rajapuram in Kasragod's Kallar grama panchayat. Photo: George Poikayil

Most of his students are working people who do not have time to prepare extensive notes or cannot connect the daily news reports to the CSE subjects. Majority of his students are from the southern districts of Kerala. He would initially charge only Rs 500 per month per student. "If they are not able to pay or have physical disabilities, I share my YouTube links with them free of cost," he said.
Recently, he increased the fees to Rs 1,000 for new students because he offered them written exams and evaluations every day.

An assistant professor who teaches Statistics in a college in Thiruvalla is full of praise for Sayooj's class. "I did not get time to send this message earlier but your class is very effective," she said in a voice message. "I have a daughter who is one-and-a-half years old. It becomes very hectic to prepare notes while managing her and the college," she said. One student said his repetitions echo in her head when she goes through textbooks.
Sayooj has long-term plans for his channel. "Once I clear the civil service examination, I will run my classes free of cost for all aspirants," he said.

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