For the second year in a row, the top three ranks of the Civil Services Examination, 2022, conducted by the Union Public Service Commission have been secured by women. In a spectacular achievement, results announced on Tuesday show that 12 women are in the top 20. The 26-year-old topper, Ishita Kishore, who graduated from Delhi University’s Sri Ram College of Commerce and is a resident of Greater Noida, reached the pinnacle in her third attempt. Thanking her family for their support, Ms. Kishore said she read up on current affairs and practised writing at length because the examination process can be draining. The second-rank holder, Garima Lohia, 24, from Buxar and is also a Delhi University graduate, cleared the examination in her second attempt; and Uma Harathi N., 28, who stood third, is an engineering graduate from Telangana and cleared it in her fifth attempt. The young women’s reflections on success and failure, the need to persevere against all odds and the importance of an empathetic ecosystem are significant pointers for future students, teachers and parents. For students, especially girls, the courage and commitment of these women is inspiring. One can only hope that teachers and parents will create the right environment for girls to fulfil their dreams; too many girls have had to give up half way in a largely patriarchal society.
This year, 933 candidates, of an approximate 11.5 lakh who took the examination, have been recommended by the UPSC for appointment to the Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service, Indian Police Service and Central Services, Group A and B; 63% (588 candidates) are from the economically weaker sections, Other Backward Classes, Scheduled Tribe and Scheduled Caste categories. This should help fill the gaps in policy in key sectors such as education and health for the needy. For all the success in the classroom, the students will now have to test their strength on the field. In a country as diverse as India, the challenges are different every few kilometres; they may have to contend with hate, violence, prejudice, discrimination and other adverse circumstances. The trail-blazers in the IAS, many of them women, had their first postings, as is the norm, in rural or semi-urban areas, and by keeping their ear to the ground, picked the issues they would campaign for, like the right to education for children, to give just one example. As women civil servants forming the steel framework of the administrative system, they may have to work under pressure, but their service will be vital for the well-being of a young India, especially women who often find themselves on the margins.