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A Woman To Live And Work On Her Own Terms 

Indian Masterminds Stories

ChatGPT’s failure in UPSC CSE prelims has been proved that it is indeed one of the toughest exams in the world. Aspirants sacrifice everything to get a place in the final list. But, there is a woman, Ms. Poonam Dalal Dahiya, who cleared UPSC CSE not once but thrice, yet choosing not to take the service being offered. 

She cleared UPSC CSE in 2009, 2010 then in 2015 and got RPF, IRPS and IRS (IT) respectively. However, refused all these services. Instead, she chose to be a state police officer in Haryana. 

In a conversation with Indian Masterminds, Additional SP, Rewari (Haryana), Ms. Dahiya talked about her journey and why she prioritized the Khaki above all. 

JOB AFTER JOB

Coming from a modest family in Jhajjar district of Haryana, Ms. Dahiya was always aspirational. After completing her 12th board, she joined as a primary teacher in a Delhi government school after clearing a teaching exam. While continuing with the job, she took admission in Delhi University as an external student for her graduation and prepared for other exams. 

She cleared SBI PO in 2006. However, she joined Income Tax services through SSC. At 28 years, she gave her first attempt in UPSC CSE and cleared it. She again repeated her success in UPSC CSE 2010.  

When asked why she appeared for the exam so late she replies, “In my family and friends, everyone was aspiring for Group B or Group C exams. For many years I wasn’t aware of UPSC and when I knew I never had the courage to attempt. I always felt it is for people from a different world altogether.”

For many years she felt that she doesn’t have degree from the best of college and she can’t put in 18-20 hours of study, which kept her away from getting into the top service in the country. 

When she succeeded in clearing UPSC, she didn’t get a service of her choice. That’s why she chose to take one last attempt – as before 2011 there was only four attempts and age limit was 30.  However, court’s ordered two more attempts and she got another chance to sit for the exam one more time.

BABY SITTING & EXAM PREP

She gave the pre-exam for UPSC CSE while carrying a baby and during Mains she had to take care of her two-months old child. Still it was her best performance and she got got 308th rank. 

UPSC allotted her IRS (IT) which is considered a good service. She served there for four years but her heart was somewhere else. Passionate for women and child issues, Ms. Dahiya wanted to get the Khakee back. 

Thanks to provisions in government, she could keep her lien in the service and since her vacancy had not been filled she joined Haryana police back. “I always believed that one should do what is he or she passionate about. Tag doesn’t matter as long as you’re satisfied”, says Ms. Dalal. 

While she enjoys her job but regrets not appearing at the age of 23. “Things would be different then. Many don’t attempt this exam as they feel they are not worth this exam. Anybody can clear this exam. We just need to stop being overcautious and underconfident”, says Ms. Dahiya.

WOMEN’S DAY MESSAGE

On International Women’s Day, she advises all to prioritize their own choice. “Don’t give it in to societal or family pressure. Come out of the mold that everyone else has created for you. Choose career or sit at home and be a homemaker but it should be your choice”, says the officer.

She also emphasized that women tend to lose their individuality. They are bogged down by the family & society even for wearing attire. This should change and women need to respect their individuality. Every change starts with women itself. 


Indian Masterminds Stories

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