Monika Rani, 29, can’t hold back her joy. She is one among the 800-odd people who have qualified for the civil services. A teacher at Delhi Government School, Bijwasan, she says, “I feel wonderful. It is hard for me to contain my joy.”
But qualifying for the civil services hasn’t been easy for Monika. The UPSC exam had been on her to-do list ever since she was eight-years-old and used to see her brother spending countless hours preparing for it.
I shared his dream of becoming an IAS officer,” she says. But before she could sit for the exam, she became a schoolteacher, got married and became a mother. Her dream for the civil services, however, burned bright in her heart.
When she finally began preparing for the exam a little after her marriage in 2005, her son was eight-months-old and her husband was out of station.
Four attempts later, she’s finally cleared the exam and been selected.
In 2007, she was called for the interview after clearing the written test.
However, that time she hadn’t made the cut. This didn’t disappoint her. Instead she felt even more confident and so she hit the books again and began preparing for her next attempt.
It wasn’t easy.
She would wake up at 4 am and study till 6 am. Then break to do her daily chores.
Later, she would study late into the night while her mother-in-law would take her son out for a walk and put him to sleep.
Effective time management, she says, was essential for her success. “I worked strictly according to my study plan. My in-laws were very supportive,” she says.
Today, with Monika on her way to becoming an IAS officer, her in-laws are ecstatic and her success has reaffirmed their faith in her abilities.
Her husband, Neeraj Dahiya, an I.T. professional, says, “I knew she would make it. It was only a matter of a few marks last time, which she’s made up for this year.”
Monika’s mother-in-law, Lakshmi Dahiya, says, “With all the effort she put in over the years, success was bound to follow.”
While the rest of the family rejoices in her achievement, Monika’s 3-year-old son, Tejas, is enjoying the media coverage. “He has little sense about the event but he’s happiest being photographed and filmed,” Monika said.
And what was the defining moment of her success? Her mother’s phone call saying, “I’m proud of you, you’ve achieved your destiny.”
Won’t she face problems being away from her family for the training? Monika says, “My family has been with me through my failures and success. They’ve told me not to worry, to go ahead and study well in the training.”
Ask her about what changes she wants to bring about in society, she says, “I don’t want to bring about any revolution. There are many plans and policies pending in several constituencies. I will try to implement them first. My emphasis will be on the execution part of the programmes that have been planned for the masses.”
As far as schools are concerned, she says, “Although the quality of education is improving, significant progress has to be made in educational programs for girls. We can help improve society by providing world-class education to our students.”
And she feels women have an important role in this.
“Women must continue with their education. Only with proper education can they become self-reliant. Educated and economically independent women can make sound decisions, help in making their children responsible citizens and thus help in improving the society in which they live,” she says.