UPSC 2nd rank holder Anu Kumari, 31, is proud to be an inspiration for women
A graduate of Delhi University’s Hindu College, Anu Kumari, mother of a four-year-old, who stood second in the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), is an inspiration for many.education Updated: May 30, 2018 19:15 IST
Two years ago, when Anu Kumari, 31, a resident of Delhi’s Rohini, phoned her father in Sonipat expressing her desire to quit her corporate job to prepare for the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), her father replied, ‘Padhai ke liye mai tumhare decision ke saath hun’ (I’m with your decision if it’s about gaining education).” Back then, little did Anu realise that she was one of the few lucky women to get her family’s support for mid-career education. But today, she is proud to be have been ranked second in UPSC 2018, apart from having been chosen as the ambassador of the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao campaign.
Recently, when Anu was felicitated by the Old Students’ Association of her alma mater, Hindu College, her successful story stood as a shining example of sheer determination. “I had been working in the business planning and administration department of a corporate company for more than eight years. I was drawing a good salary, but I wasn’t satisfied with my work and wanted to help people,” recalls Anu. “My colleagues suggested that I take up work in an NGO, but I felt opportunities were limited there… That’s when I thought of UPSC,” she adds.
However, the struggle had only begun. In 2016, when Anu left her son, Viaan, under her mother’s care, he was just two-and-a-half years old. “He had turned four when I met him properly in March 2018 — the day I appeared for my interview. When I saw my son that day, I was teary-eyed and all I could do was hug him tight,” she recalls not having met Viaan properly all this while.
The second challenge for Anu was the road back to studies. “I had done MBA in finance before getting into the corporate world, and then going back into study mode after all these years was quite a struggle. Herein, my masi (maternal aunt) played a crucial role. I stayed and studied at her place. She was so supportive that when her children used to turn on the television at a high volume or create a ruckus, she would even scold them for disturbing me,” she says.
However, despite having the support of her parents, winning that of her in-laws was to prove a roadblock, initially. “While I received all possible support and encouragement from my parents, it wasn’t the same initially with my in-laws,” recalls Anu. Her husband cautioned her against giving up a career she had ensconced herself in. And her parents-in-law suggested that she take up a more comfortable career, such as teaching. “Perhaps they didn’t have the confidence in me initially, but I wasn’t one to give in and was able to convince them. Gradually, they, too, started believing in my dream,” she adds.
Anu was sure that despite just the two attempts she had, due to the age limit, she’d be able to crack it. However, she didn’t think she would be able to make it to the top 10. She says, “Being one among the top 10 was something that only my father and brother believed in. Even after the results were out, I didn’t think it was a big deal for me to have accomplished this until the next evening of the result day, when I went to attend a family wedding and a lot of elderly, from villages of Haryana, blessed me for my achievement. One of them placed their hand on my head and said, ‘Aisi teen chori ho jayein to bhi kam hain’ (Even three daughters like her are not enough).”
Today, when Anu gets phone calls from women of all age groups, she feels overwhelmed at being seen as a role model. “The women who call me have been going through difficult times in their lives… some are divorcees, some want to quit their careers but are unable to, and more such struggles. I feel happy that I’m able to guide them. My UPSC training is about to begin, and I’m all ready for a challenging role ahead,” she says.
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