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Meet 10 Toppers Who Overcame Incredible Odds to Ace UPSC CSE 2020

UPSC CSE 2020 Results: Despite the heavy odds they faced, these 10 toppers never lost sight of their goal — cracking the UPSC exam to become Civil Service officers. Here are their inspiring stories.

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On 24 September the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) announced the final results of the 2020 Civil Services Examination (CSE).

Out of the 10,40,060 candidates, 761 cleared the selection process. While each candidate’s success sings a unique tune of victory, for some the results mark exceptional personal achievement. These are achievers who braved grave social, physical and economic challenges and still managed to crack ‘the mother of all exams’.

The Better India shares 10 such stories of those who made it to the list despite all odds.

1.S Aswathy

S Aswathy of Thiruvananthapuram had dreamt of becoming an IAS officer since her childhood. Her career began with an IT sector job, but she soon quit that to dive head first into studies for the exam.

With her father working as a construction labourer, Aswathy managed to study under grave economic conditions to secure the 481st rank in the CSE 2020 exam. She continues to prepare for the upcoming exam to reach a rank that will bag her a dream position in the Indian Administrative Services (IAS).

2. D Ranjith

A hearing and speech impairment meant that Ranjith was turned down for many jobs during placements. But it only took him one attempt to clear this exam.

This 27-year-old scored a rank of 750. The Times of India shared that he learnt lip-reading from his mother to understand what was taught in coaching class.

Today, he stands proud among the disabled students.

UPSC CSE 2020 Toppers
Ranjith (Right) | Source: Facebook

3.Divyanshu Nigam

In June 2021, Divyanshu lost his father to COVID-19. Two months later, he was appearing for the UPSC exam.

The Birla Institute of Technology (BITS), Pilani graduate shared that his preparations came to a halt during the tumultuous time. However, he managed to clear the interview this year, which was his third attempt.

This 25-year-old has turned his loss into an inspiration. With a rank of 44, he aspires to work in the healthcare sector to help save more lives.

UPSC CSE 2020 Toppers
Divyanshu Nigam | Source: Twitter

4.Niranjan Kumar

Niranjan comes from Bihar’s Nawada district, where his father used to run his tobacco shop until the onset of the pandemic.

Hailing from a humble background, Niranjan took up a job at Coal India Limited after graduation. Amidst time and economic constraints, he studied and cleared the CSE in 2016 with a rank of 728. This bagged him a job in the Income Tax Department, Delhi.

But he continued to study still, aiming to achieve an even better score. This year, he secured the 535th rank and hopes to enter the IAS.

5.Umesh Labana

In the Kolar village of Himachal Pradesh, people are reported to be enthused with the declaration of the UPSC results. One of their own, a 28-year-old Umesh, has managed to score a rank of 397.

His achievement comes against the backdrop of complete visual impairment. Losing his vision in Class 9, Umesh had to shift to braille reading to complete his studies. But this never deterred him, as he put in determined efforts to remain on top of his academics and pave the way for his dream career.

As an IAS officer, he hopes to better the position of the disabled in society.

UPSC CSE 2020 Toppers
Umesh Labana | Source: Facebook

6.Amruth HV

Amruth, on the other hand, struggles with a hearing impairment. Despite this, he has managed to secure the 752nd rank. This was his third attempt.

He decided against taking any coaching right from the start, and studied all by himself by means of books, videos and articles. Failure occurred year after year, but he never gave up his dream, despite being forced to do so.

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7.Anil Basak

Anil might have seen grave financial hardship, but none of it ever deterred him from excelling in life.

“My father used to work as a hawker. He had also worked as a house help in Rajasthan just to sustain his family,” he told India Today and added that his father was his biggest inspiration in life.

Making the most of his education, Anil sat for his first UPSC exam in 2018. But he was unable to clear the exam back then.

Refusing to give up, he tried again and again until he managed to score a rank of 45 this year. The bright score means that despite the benefit of the Scheduled Caste quota, Anil has been selected within the general category on merit.

UPSC CSE 2020 Toppers
Anil Basak | Source: Facebook

8.Pooja Kadam

Pooja Kadam’s dream has been to help uplift the lives of rural Indian women, and she has continually pursued it with an unshifting focus.

Pooja lost 75 per cent of her vision during her college days. But despite this life-altering circumstance, she found it in herself to work harder to cope with its challenges. “I was cursing fate and was depressed, but changed my outlook through Yoga. I then decided to put in all my might to achieve my goal,” she told The Indian Express.

But as luck would have it, cracking the exam was not going to be easy for her. This 28-year-old had to remain motivated until she finally got selected only in her fifth attempt, which was this year.

Pooja scored a rank of 577, becoming the first woman from Ausa taluka of Pune to clear the UPSC exam.

9.Preeti Beniwal

According to GranthShala, Preeti suffered from a major train accident in 2016 while on her way to an interview at The Food Corporation of India (FCI). Suddenly bed-ridden, she was abandoned by her then husband and parents-in-law due to her hapless state.

Nevertheless, Preeti decided to move forward in life and do something for herself. This was when she decided to aim for the coveted IAS positions — a dream which was strongly supported by her father.

She began studying for the exam while stationed in her bed, and after three attempts, achieved a rank of 754 this year.

UPSC CSE 2020 Toppers
Preeti Beniwal | Source: Facebook

10.Altap Shaikh

Raised in a financially challenged family, Altap had to sell tea and snacks to earn money even during his schooling.

But this never came in the way of his academic career. After passing out of school, he completed his Bachelor’s in Food Technology and began preparing for the CSE.

He joined the Nationalist Career Academy, Pune for preparation. Despite limited preparation time alongside a full-time job, he passed the exam in 2015.

Willing to do better, he appeared again this year and scored a rank of 545 to become an IPS officer.

Edited by Yoshita Rao

Feature Image Source: Facebook

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