These are stories of gritty women with iron will, who didn't give up on their dreams, no matter how hard the going got.
As always, the UPSC results this year, elicited a lot of inspiring stories of rank holders who achieved their dreams despite struggling through hardship and adverse situations.
From 22-year-old Hasan Safin whose mother sold rotis to fuel his ambition, to the daughter of a Special Protection Group (SPG) Guard who became the youngest ever candidate to crack the coveted exams; these youngsters have proved that for the determined, nothing is an obstacle when it comes to chasing and fulfilling a dream.
However, one of the best aspects of this year’s rank list was that eight women clinched a place in the Top-25 slab, which is quite impressive and encouraging. This not only means that more and more women are eyeing the country’s higher echelons of bureaucracy and administration, but are also working hard to earn a place in the system.
From the mother of a four-year-old who bagged the second rank, to a bank officer who refused a lucrative job offer in London to pursue her UPSC dreams, here are eight stories of gritty women who will now be a part of India’s new brigade of civil servants:
1. Anu Kumari, Rank 2
When the results were out, Haryana’s Anu Kumari was one of most sought-after rank holders by media agencies, as they wanted to cover her inspiring story. To achieve her dream of making it to the top, the young mother decided to move to her aunt’s village to direct all her time and attention towards preparing for the exams and had to reluctantly leave behind her four-year-old son, Viaan, under her mother’s care. Thankfully, all the hard work paid off, and as we now know, rest is history.
You can read her complete story here.
2. Saumya Sharma, Rank 9
Tasting success at her first attempt, it is incredible that Saumya spent only four months to prepare for the exams and clinched a place amidst the Top-10. One can’t help but appreciate the resilient young law student, who had been running a high fever while giving her Mains and was given three drips per day, including one during the lunch break.
The fact that Saumya’s both parents were doctors proved to be a blessing for the UPSC aspirant—their timely attention and care helped her reach her ambition, despite her poor health.
3. Ashima Mittal, Rank 12
Currently serving as a trainee officer with the Indian Revenue Service in Nagpur, Ashima had always been interested in teaching and found the time to kindle the spark of learning amidst underprivileged school students even when her UPSC preparations were moving forward in full swing.
The daughter of academicians and an alumna of IIT Bombay, Ashima aims to make a difference in the education system in the country through her work.
4. Dr Neha Jain, Rank 14
An avid reader, a national-level gymnast, and a trained Bharatnatyam dancer, Dr Neha Jain is a dentist by profession and now will be part of the 2018 batch of civil servants in the country.
Having been an average student throughout her academic life, Neha takes after her multitalented mother, who believes that academic merit isn’t the only requisite to crack the UPSC; one also needs to nurture their hobbies and interests. She states that it was her flair in gymnastics and Bharatnatyam that won her brownie points during her final interview.
5. Shivani Goyal, Rank 15
An alumnus of the Shri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC) in Delhi, Shivani had always been a meritorious student, and her father, who works with the National Stock Exchange, was instrumental in instilling the ‘IAS dream’ in his daughter at an early age.
Interestingly, she had to wait for a year after graduating from college, as she fell short of the age requirement stipulated by the UPSC, and managed to hit her mark in her second attempt. As for her future plans, Shivani aims to revamp India’s education system.
6. Sikha Surendran, Rank 16
Kerala’s top rank holder, Sikha hails from a small village in Ernakulam, and her humble upbringing prompted the young woman to chase the civil services dream.
Sikha’s father was her primary source of motivation, and he always insisted that education was the only answer to break out of poverty.
She had initially moved to New Delhi to prepare for the exams, but culture change and homesickness brought the civil engineer back to her village, where she made optimal use of online resources for her preparations. Sikha aims to focus on the pertinent area of women empowerment once she takes charge.
7. Abhilasha Abhinav, Rank 18
The daughter of a retired IPS officer, Abhilasha rejected a lucrative job offer in London and instead chose to stay and prepare hard to make her UPSC dream, a reality. She was initially working at a private firm but soon moved on to the public-banking sector, and it was during this time that she started preparing for the exams.
While she had managed to bag a post in the IRS in her first attempt, the IAS opened up to Abhilasha in her second attempt.
8. Tapasya Parihar, Rank 23
Tapasya, a resident of Madhya Pradesh, managed to crack the UPSC in her second attempt. Hailing from an agrarian background, it was her paternal uncle, a social worker, who had planted the aspirational seeds in the mind of the law student.
Instead of opting for campus recruitment after the completion of her course, the young woman instead moved to Delhi and joined a coaching centre to prepare for the exams and didn’t stop working hard until she hit the mark.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)