JK: Farmer's daughter, 1st Muslim woman cracks IAS exam

Jammu and Kashmir map
Srinagar, May 15: Failing twice to clear the IAS examination did not deter Ovessa Iqbal from trying again to break into the coveted civil services as she felt it was the only way she could change the lives of people of her state Jammu and Kashmir.

Iqbal, hailing from remote Chachoot village in Ladakh region, is among the seven successful candidates from the state to have cracked the UPSC examination this year and the first Muslim woman from the state to make it the prestigious civil services list.

It was not an easy ride for 25-year-old Iqbal, whose father is a farmer, as a big disadvantage was having been born in Ladakh, a region which is gripped by intense cold for six months of winter and remains cut off from rest of the world due to heavy snowfall.

After finishing her Bachelor's Degree in Chemical Engineering, she had the option of studying MBA like her classmates at college in Chandigarh but the desire to serve her own people pushed her to work towards the Civil Services goal.

"I had options to either go for MBA or masters in chemical engineering or go for the civil services. My colleagues would often talk in campus about the financial packages they would get after MBA but I was not interested in it. I had a desire to do something different and made up my mind to try for the civil services," Iqbal said soon after the list was released.

Iqbal failed to even get past the preliminary round in her first attempt in 2008. She worked hard and got through to the mains the next year but could not cross the final hurdle.

In the meantime, she appeared in Kashmir Administrative Service (KAS) examination last year and qualified. However, she did not rest on her laurels and appeared at the national level again last year.

"The credit for my success goes to my family as without their efforts it would not have been possible for me to crack the examination," said Iqbal.

She wants the youth of the state to follow her footsteps and those of other successful candidates if they want to put an end to injustices being meted out to them.

"To stop the exploitation of people, youth should come forward to make a change through civil services," she said.


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