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Breaking Stereotype: Zeba Khan’s Success Over Societal Norms

2021 batch IRS (IT), Zeba Khan, cleared UPSC CSE with AIR 423 in her third attempt She is posted as Assistant Commissioner, Income Tax To know how Zeba Khan shattered stereotypes, read the article
Indian Masterminds Stories

Zeba Khan’s story shatters stereotypes and paves the way for countless girls to dream bigger. Hailing from a small tehsil called Raghogarh in Madhya Pradesh, Zeba defied societal expectations and emerged as a triumphant Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer. 

Speaking with Indian Masterminds, IRS (IT) Zeba Khan, who is posted as Assistant Commissioner, Income Tax, shared about her journey to UPSC

DEFYING SOCIETAL NORMS 

Despite facing societal pressure to conform to traditional roles, her parents stood by her, defying these norms. “They became my primary source of support, encouraging me to break free from limitations and pursue my dreams,” Zeba shared. While her parents were her strongest pillars, whispers of disapproval followed her path. “Why are you sending your daughter outside to study?” they’d hear. Yet, Zeba’s determination never faltered. 

Breaking Stereotype: Zeba Khan's Success Over Societal Norms
Breaking Stereotype: Zeba Khan’s Success Over Societal Norms

“People who opposed my education now give my example to send their daughter to study outside of the Tehsil,” Zeba shares. 

Her first brush with ambition came in school. Inspired by the idea of the UPSC exam, she saw it as a unique career path, distinct from the traditional route of becoming a teacher, a common profession in her family. With unwavering focus, she pursued a B.Sc. in Electronics, Mathematics, and Physics from Indore’s prestigious Holkar Science College, followed by a postgraduate degree in Public Administration.

TWO FAILED ATTEMPTS 

The UPSC exam, however, proved to be a formidable opponent. Her first two attempts resulted in heartbreak. Despite rigorous coaching and early preparation, the prelims remained elusive. Dejected but not defeated, Zeba channeled her disappointment into renewed motivation. “Honestly, I didn’t have any plan B,” she says. 

Breaking Stereotype: Zeba Khan's Success Over Societal Norms
Breaking Stereotype: Zeba Khan’s Success Over Societal Norms

This lack of a backup plan became her greatest motivator. The fear of a career path she didn’t desire fueled her determination. As a safety net, she cleared the MPPCS Mains during her second UPSC attempt, but her sights remained firmly set on the civil services.

FAMILY SUPPORT

Through these challenging times, Zeba’s family became her anchor. Her parents, along with her grandparents, provided unwavering support. They understood her dreams and encouraged her to break free from societal constraints. Convincing them to allow her to study in Indore was a battle, but one she eventually won. This victory instilled confidence, proving that she could overcome any obstacle.

PREPARATION STRATEGY 

Zeba’s strategy for success was built on relentless revision and mock tests. She meticulously analyzed her mistakes, turning them into stepping stones. The key, she emphasizes, is a positive attitude and mental strength. “I wasn’t positive during my earlier attempts,” she admits, “then I became one.” This shift in perspective proved crucial.

DOOR TO SUCCESS

Finally, in her third attempt, the doors to success opened. She cleared the prelims, a feat that propelled her forward with renewed vigor. She poured her heart into the Mains and Interview, ultimately securing her coveted spot as an IRS officer. “I am happy with my service. I believe in work-life balance, as it is important,” says Zeba. 

WISE ADVICE 

Looking back, Zeba offers valuable advice to aspiring UPSC candidates. “Maximum revision and mock tests are of utmost importance,” she emphasizes, along with the need to develop the personality of an officer. But the most crucial ingredient, she believes, is family support. “If your parents are supporting you, then you don’t have to think about what people are saying.”


Indian Masterminds Stories

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