Long, challenging journey, say women toppers of UPSC

Ankita Agarwal (left) who secured the second rank and third-rank holder Gamini Singla. 

Ankita Agarwal (left) who secured the second rank and third-rank holder Gamini Singla.  | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The three women who topped the UPSC examination believe that it is a long, challenging journey to crack the examination and that only those aspirants, genuinely interested in the field, should partake in it.

All three of them did not make it in their first attempt and attribute their success to self-study.

The All India Rank 1 in civil services examination, Shruti Sharma (26) said she wants to work towards improving education and women’s empowerment during her career as a civil servant.

Having completed her schooling from Sardar Patel Vidyalaya, Delhi, Ms. Sharma studied History at St. Stephen’s College and then took admission into Jawaharlal Nehru University to do post-graduation in Modern History. She was unable to complete her course. It was then that she decided to give a shot at the UPSC examinations and so joined Jamia Millia Islamia’s Residential Coaching Academy. She is currently pursuing an MA Sociology from Delhi School of Economics.

This is Ms. Sharma’s second attempt at the examination. She shared that during her first attempt, due to a technical error the mode of examination got selected as Hindi instead of English, which was her preferred option. Due to this, she missed out on getting a call for the interview. Her family belongs to Bijnore in Uttar Pradesh. Her father is a retired professor and mother is a school teacher.

Speaking about her strategy for the examination, she said that she used to make her own notes after reading the newspaper instead of relying on coaching material. She said that she practised writing a lot by attempting many test series. Her guidance to those attempting the examination is to not count the number of hours put in a day for the preparation but to look at the quality of hours put in.

She added that the journey towards joining the IAS was a very long one and only those who were genuinely interested should start on the journey; only if there is interest, the effort will follow.

Ankita Agarwal (25), who secured the second rank, said she was inspired to appear for the coveted examinations by her professors at St. Stephen’s College, Delhi, where she pursued Bachelors in Economics (Hons). This was her third attempt, in the first she had qualified for the Indian Revenue Services (IRS) and is presently undergoing training.

Coming from a business family in Kolkata, Ms. Agarwal is the first one ever to clear the civil services examinations in her family.

“It was at St. Stephen’s that our professors made us realise that we are born into privilege. There are not many people as fortunate as us. So, after working for a consultancy for a year, I decided to appear for the civil services examinations,” Ms Agarwal said, adding that it was a mix of coaching and self-study that worked for her. She chose political science and international relations as her optional subjects.

Third-rank holder Gamini Singla (23) from Sunam in Punjab’s Sangrur said this was her second attempt at civil services and in the first attempt in 2019, she could not even clear the preliminary exams.

She said she owed her success to her father Dr. Alok Singla and her teacher Vinod Sharma. Both my parents are doctors and posted as medical officers at Himachal Pradesh.

“My father used to get newspapers for me and highlight the important topics. He used to discuss current affairs to help me prepare for the exams,” Ms. Singla said. A B.Tech from Punjab Engineering College in Chandigarh, Ms. Singla said she was offered a job as a financial analyst by J.P Morgan but chose to appear for the exams instead. “I wanted to give back to society and help others,” said Ms. Singla adding that her first choice is the IAS. She chose Sociology as an optional subject in the written exams.

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Printable version | May 31, 2022 7:21:33 pm |