From Doubts to Triumph, IAS Dr Mittali Sethi’s Inspirational IAS Journey
- Muskan Khandelwal
- Published on 8 Sep 2023, 4:00 pm IST
- 4 minutes read
- 2017 batch IAS Dr. Mittali Sethi reminisces about her six years career into IAS
- The officer recalls the help provided by her seven friends for her UPSC interview
- Through her experiences, she imparts valuable lessons on embracing challenges and defying societal norms
What would be reaction of a UPSC aspirant, if she was told that her GK not only zero, but rather in the negative. If society told her to procreate than go for the Civil Services examination – ‘UPSC nahi baccha karo’ – how would she deal with it? This is one of the most inspiring story of a person who overcame such resistance and negative vibes, throughout her preparation days, to finally make it to the elite IAS cadre. How did she do this? How did she brave the odds?
Indian Masterminds chronicles the triumphant journey of Dr Mittali Sethi, a dentist turned 2017-batch IAS officer currently serving as the Director at Vanamati in Nagpur, Maharashtra.
SIX YEARS INTO IAS
Six years into the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Dr. Sethi took a moment off to reflect on how far she had come and how. She recalled the days when she would walk to her hospital duties while holding a newspaper, determined to improve her General Knowledge (GK) and pursue her dream of cracking the UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) exam. Her husband, who humorously described her GK as “not zero, but in the negative,” was among those who initially doubted feasibility of her ambitious goal.
Her journey was marked by numerous critics who questioned her choice to pursue the UPSC exam while being a professional, married, and settled. “Professional, married, settled, why, ineligible, selfish, people-pleaser: many of the words that were used by many to tell me how totally stupid this whole idea of writing this exam was,” she added.
However, she remained undeterred, setting out to prove that she could achieve her dreams despite the skepticism surrounding her.
At the outset, Dr. Sethi faced the daunting task of spending eight hours just to read a single newspaper, having not engaged with such material in a decade. She persevered, tackling complex subjects like economics and law through books, gradually building her knowledge base.
Throughout her journey, she leaned on the support of a few close friends who stood by her side despite their own doubts. She recalled a heartwarming moment when seven friends accompanied her to Delhi for her UPSC interview, solely to boost her morale and ensure her saree, which she was wearing for the first time, looked perfect. These friends, Sethi noted, played an integral role in her success.
“They came just to say ‘You go, girl’. I don’t know until today what I did to get so lucky in love,” she said.
Reflecting on the lessons she learned through the ups and downs of her UPSC journey, Ms. Sethi shared several key insights:
Firstly, she emphasized the importance of embracing difficult challenges and understanding that their difficulty doesn’t make them insurmountable. Her journey involved learning guitar, music, economics, and law, all while preparing for the UPSC exam. She stressed the value of perseverance and the acceptance of open-ended learning experiences.
Secondly, Ms. Sethi touched on the concept of unlearning societal norms and expectations. She encouraged people to embrace their unique interests and talents, even if they seem unconventional to others. She highlighted the importance of supporting others in pursuing their “crazy” dreams, as it contributes to a better world.
“I told my husband – So, my GK is negative, but someone would have written a history book and that’s enough for me to read and gain knowledge,” Ms. Sethi said.
She recalled how she started reading newspaper – after a gap of ten years and how she was shocked to see complex terms like repo rate and reverse repo rate. She read books to resolve such complexities.
Thirdly, she underscored the idea that learning is a lifelong process, emphasizing that fields like economics are not exclusive to any gender. Sethi also stressed the importance of leadership, love, and data-driven decision-making in navigating challenges.
She underlined the help lent to her by her seven friends who believed in her abilities more than her and how they accompanied her to Delhi to cheer her for the UPSC interview and to help her wear a saree for the first time in life.
Lastly, she emphasized the need for humility and collaboration in addressing pressing global issues, such as climate change, inequality, surveillance, and authoritarianism. Sethi called for a more specialized and community-oriented bureaucracy that works towards improving the overall ecosystem.
“I am still learning this but happiness began and stayed within me when the centre of my universe was not me,” Ms. Sethi added.
In a heartfelt social media thread, she recounted her initial challenges, doubts, and the unwavering support of her friends and family that helped her overcome obstacles on her path to success.
END OF THE ARTICLE