“I was in the hospital with my father who has been battling cancer for the last few years when the Civil Service Examination (CSE) results were declared,” says Ritika Jindal, AIR 88 (UPSC).
Many aspire for the CSE, their reasons, different; but Ritika Jindal’s resolve to be an IAS officer gained strength from her father’s strength.
“The place I belong to is small, with very limited infrastructure and resources. Every time my father was unwell we had to take him all the way to Ludhiana to get him treated and that stuck with me. I wanted to become an officer and do everything in my power to change that,” shares Ritika, who can now bring changes as a part of the third pillar of our democracy.
In this conversation with The Better India, Ritika opens up about how she managed to prepare for the UPSC during the time her father was undergoing treatment, and what helped her focus.
Leading Up To the UPSC
Born and educated in Moga, Punjab, Ritika has always been a hardworking student. A CBSE Class 12 Northern Region topper in Commerce, Ritika believes in putting her best foot forward.
Speaking about her parents, she says, “They have always stood by me. They are my best friends.” Ritika’s father worked as a Production Manager in a factory at Moga while her mother is a housewife.
Once she completed her school education, Ritika moved to Delhi to pursue Bachelor’s in Commerce at the Shri Ram College of Commerce. She passed with an aggregate score of 95 per cent in 2017. Ritika’s younger brother is also pursuing a commerce degree at the same college.
The year Ritika graduated, she appeared for the CSE for the first time. It was during the time she was preparing for the examination that she received the news of her father being diagnosed with oral cancer.
Knowing it was important for her father to see her succeed, she appeared for the CSE. Recollecting that attempt she says, “I managed to reach until the interview stage but I was unable to clear it.”
Not one to give up, Ritika persisted and decided to appear for the CSE again. And it wasn’t any easier the second time around either. Though her father beat all odds and defeated oral cancer, he was diagnosed with lung cancer in March 2019, and unfortunately this time around, the cancer had spread to the back and his brain, causing him immense physical pain.
Ritika says that seeing her father fight for his life gave her a lot of strength. “We both have derived a lot of strength and support from each other,” she shares.
How to manage college and preparation
“It was undoubtedly difficult – there was college work and exams to focus on and then CSE preparation. The two things that helped me was being disciplined and focused,” she says.
- Step-by-step approach
Ritika says that it is very important for aspirants to break down the manner in which they approach the syllabus. “Focusing on everything at one go will not yield the desired results,” she says.
- Be disciplined
Studying for these competitive examinations can get lonely and hence it is important that aspirants stay disciplined in their approach. Ensure that you are regular in your studies, draw up a schedule and stick to it. Also be balanced in the schedule you make – include leisure time, sleep etc.
- Make notes that make sense
Remember that the notes you make must not be as bulky as the book you are referring to. Notes as meant to jog your memory and should be used like a ready reckoner, so jot down points accordingly. Give yourself time to read through the content twice or thrice and then start making notes. It will be more beneficial that way.
At the time when Ritika’s CSE results were declared, her father had already been in the hospital for almost 6 months. “He felt so happy when I made it. I think it also gave him a boost of energy. I am grateful for each day that he fights and lives on,” she says.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)