What do you think drives an aspiring public servant when they take on one of the toughest exams in the world? Answers could vary from social status, stable career, charm of public services regarding the variety of roles one can play, etc. But it wasn’t the quest for Ms. Pooja Jha, who passed the 2021 Civil Service Examination in her very first attempt and became an IFS officer.
Her motivation was very different as she was fighting a battle to assert her existence – to achieve gender equality at home. She wanted to give herself a better future and show her family that even a little girl could be the strength of a family.
The Inspirational Story of Pooja’s Will and Courage – UPSC Toppers CSE 2021
The child meta-preference: In Indian society, there is a preference for a male child as a son is seen as a support in old age and a daughter is seen as part of someone else’s family. Unfortunately, Pooja’s family also had this deep in their minds and she was born into this family due to the desire to have a son. She is therefore the fifth daughter in the family and we can all imagine what kind of love was shown to her when she was born. It won’t be wrong to say that she was part of a family that was desperately looking for a boy. Fortunately, their quest soon ended and the family had a boy next time.
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She wanted equality: Pooja realized that her brother’s birthday was celebrated with a lot of fun and high spirits, but her birthday and her sisters’ birthday were not celebrated. She found a way to solve this inequality. She observed that every year when she did well in her school’s annual exams, she was loved and respected by everyone. So, she started celebrating her success every year and started believing that result day is her birthday which everyone celebrates and makes her feel special. This approach of hers paved the way for the life she was to pursue, and placing first in the class became her habit.
She defied the norm: Pooja is the only girl in the family to have studied beyond intermediate, and all her sisters were married off when they were only 18-19 years old. Her father works as a peon, and the family’s income is meager at best. She studied in schools run by the MCD and completed her intermediate with flying colors. She worked very hard and got a seat in dentistry for the prestigious Maulana Azad Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi. She knew she also had the potential to free up the seat for MBBS, but motivated by the need to continue her education at the earliest, she threw her heart and soul into the course and placed first in all four years of the course.
She dared to dream: When Pooja was growing up, she read about the civil service exam and how this exam can be a social mobility tool that she wanted for herself and her family. However, her father and mother had no idea what the civil service exam is and how to prepare for it. After completing her dental course, when she revealed her desire to take the civil service exam, the family did not support her. She was to take up a job as a dentist and start contributing financially to the family. It was a very difficult situation, but she is no stranger to problems. She started preparing for the exam in 2019 and everyone in her social group started showing her why she is not working and contributing to the family income.
She overcame the fear of failure: Pooja wanted to become a civil servant, but she had very few ideas on how to prepare for the exam. She explored it further and realized that this exam is difficult and may require more than one attempt to pass which she may not be able to afford. She qualified Rau’s IAS Scholarship Program for Master Review, Test Series, and Mentorship Program and contacted the mentor. Mr. Mangal Singh, who is a senior teacher, was there to guide her. The first question she asked herself was, “Can this exam be passed in one attempt?” Mr. Singh helped her by making sure she could do it and put her in touch with Ms. Divya Mishra (AIR-28 in UPSC CSE-2020) for helping her with her dissertation and with further Rau’s other ecosystem subject matter experts to assist him in each. aspect of the exam.
She wrote her fate: Working harder than she has ever done in the past and being systematic in her approach, she beat all the odds to become the IFS officer she always wanted to be. This dream of becoming a civil servant goes back almost a decade, but it took only one honest and sincere attempt to pass the UPSC exam on the first try. She now feels the most loved in the family and her family receives a lot of attention and respect that she has never witnessed in the past. She shared that her father is a peon in an organization and has never met the owner of the business in the last 38 years of his service. But when she reached No. 1, the business owner called her father to congratulate him on his daughter’s great success. He also promised that he would visit their house and congratulate the girl.
She overcame all the obstacles: There are many who want to prepare for the UPSC exam and become a civil servant and they all face different kinds of challenges. What we can learn from Pooja’s journey is that nothing is impossible if you put your heart and soul into it. Another thing we would like to point out is that Pooja has always exceeded expectations by a large margin. On one occasion, when given the task of writing an essay, she wrote two. This shows the greatness of his effort. We are fortunate that she is part of Steel Frame of India and part of the policies and decision-making that will make India more equal, more accommodating and more respectful towards women. She is actually the face of confident women in the new India, and she will soon represent India on all major international platforms.
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