Image Source: IASPaper
That is the message to Indian youth given by Kashmir Valley’s first woman IPS officer. According to this inspiring lady from Farkin, a remote village in Kupwara, it does not matter in which profession one is, as long as there is dedication to serve the nation.
In 2013, Dr Ruveda Salam became the first woman from the Kashmir valley to qualify in the Union Public Service Commission examination. Although she did her MBBS from the Government Medical College in Srinagar, she did not enroll for MS and started preparing for the Kashmir Administrative Service (KAS) and cracked it in 2009. She went on to appear for the UPSC and cracked it in 2013. After strenuous training in Hyderabad,she cracked the UPSC from Kashmir and was put into Tamil Nadu cadre where she is currently serving as an Assistant Commissioner of Police in Chennai. She cracked the UPSC again this year with an improved rank to become an IAS officer.
It was her father who had inspired her from her childhood to become an IAS officer. “When I was growing up in Kashmir, my father often used to say that I should become an IAS (Indian Administrative Service) officer. That’s when I first thought of becoming one. It inspired me and I decided to go ahead and aim for it.”
Although Dr Ruveda does not blame her religion, she admits that it is expected of Muslim women to get married at an early age and to be dedicated to the family. It was her parents, especially her mother, who helped her break this mould. At 27, she is still unmarried, though she dreams of striking a balance between career and family life while also doing social work to serve the community.
Nothing substitutes hard work
While sharing her success story, Dr Ruveda points out the difficulties she faced during her preparation as well as training, which she overcame with sheer grit and determination. Since the Hindu Pundit exodus from Kashmir, the situation has been volatile there. Without any formal coaching, Dr Ruveda had to depend on the internet for her self-studies, which would break down often. Civil services are affected and information is hard to come by. However, she continued studying on her own with some books ordered from Delhi and the news feed she got from Facebook and cracked the KPS. While on duty, she would carry her books to study in whatever little time she could spare. Her seniors did their bit in encouraging and boosting her confidence.
Challenges are her stepping stones to success
After cracking the UPSC in 2013, she was sent to Hyderabad to undergo difficult physical training before becoming the ACP in Chennai. While on duty, she realized that it did not matter whether one was posted in Kashmir or Tamil Nadu – her ultimate aim is to serve the society. Reporting to duty at 7 am without knowing when she would come home would have been tough. She had no vehicle yet she managed it somehow. She has given motivational speeches to inspire women to appear for civil services and to strike a balance between work and family. She admits, “When girls see me in uniform they look at me with admiration.”
Kashmir and their achievers
Dr Salam dreams of motivating a large number of Kashmiri girls to pursue their dreams. This in a state where female literacy is 58% according to the 2011 census and female employment percentage of 19.11, as compared to male literacy of 78% and employment percentage of 48.11%. Despite the unfavourable statistics, she regards the youth of Kashmir to be up to the task and intelligent. Nine candidates, including three women from Jammu and Kashmir have cracked the UPSC this year. In 2014, ten candidates made it to the list, with Abid Sadiq Bhat from Kashmir securing the 27th rank. The first person from Kashmir to top secure top rank in UPSCwas Shah Faesal in 2009.
The Logical Indian team hails the success of the first Muslim woman from Kashmir to make it to the IAS and hopes that her message of burning desire to do something for the country is able to inspire many more Indians to follow her path.