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From Badminton Court to Bureaucracy: Dehradun’s Kuhoo Garg Aces UPSC CSE

Deharadun’s Kuhoo Garg cleared UPSC CSE with AIR 178 in her second attempt A sports enthusiast, she started playing badminton at a very young age To learn more about her journey, read the article
Indian Masterminds Stories

Kuhoo Garg, a young woman from Dehradun, has a story that is both inspiring and emblematic of the unexpected turns life can take. The daughter of a retired IPS officer, Mr. Ashok Kumar, was on a promising trajectory in the world of badminton, even representing India on the junior national team. However, a twist of fate and a determined spirit led her down a different path, one that culminated in her recent success in the UPSC Civil Services Exam.

Speaking with Indian Masterminds, Kuhoo shared her badminton journey and her road to civil service preparation. 

THE JOURNEY TO BADMINTON 

Kuhoo’s journey began on the badminton courts. “In my family, sports were always encouraged alongside studies,” she says. “We were pushed to play different sports, and I started with tennis, swimming, and even horseback riding. But badminton really clicked for me.” Her talent blossomed quickly, and by the age of 12, she was competing in the All India finals for under-13 girls.

At 15, she received her first call-up to the Indian Junior Team. This, however, coincided with a crucial decision point in her academic life. “My father, always supportive, pointed out that if I wanted to pursue badminton seriously, science wouldn’t be a practical choice due to the demanding schedule,” Kuhoo recalls. 

From Badminton Court to Bureaucracy: Dehradun's Kuhoo Garg Aces UPSC CSE
From Badminton Court to Bureaucracy: Dehradun’s Kuhoo Garg Aces UPSC CSE

He suggested humanities, which would allow her more flexibility to train. This parental guidance proved pivotal. Kuhoo thrived, dedicating herself to grueling training schedules that often began at 5 am. She even relocated to Hyderabad to train at the prestigious Gopichand Academy.

For seven years, badminton was Kuhoo’s sole focus. The Olympics became her ultimate dream. “I had played in the World Championships and the Asian Championships. The Olympics were the next step,” she shared with Indian Masterminds

A SHOT TO CIVIL SERVICES 

However, fate had other plans. The pandemic forced a nationwide lockdown, disrupting Kuhoo’s training routine. Health issues further complicated her return to the sport. A knee injury sustained during a selection trial while still recovering from illness required surgery and a lengthy rehabilitation period.

Confined to recovery, she began to contemplate her future. The civil service, a path her father had taken, emerged as a possibility. “The thought of playing again wasn’t gone entirely,” she admits, “but during my recovery, I decided to give UPSC a shot.”

From Badminton Court to Bureaucracy: Dehradun's Kuhoo Garg Aces UPSC CSE
From Badminton Court to Bureaucracy: Dehradun’s Kuhoo Garg Aces UPSC CSE

CSE PREPARATION 

Kuhoo’s civil services exam preparation was a masterclass in focus and resilience. With only five months to prepare for the preliminary exam, her first attempt was a learning experience. Following surgery and rehab, she dove back into studies with renewed determination. Her strategy was clear: a structured approach that emphasized static portions of the syllabus, current affairs, previous years’ question papers, and mock tests. She meticulously analyzed past exams and dedicated long hours to answer writing practice, sometimes pushing herself to 13-15 hour study days. For the interview round, she honed her knowledge of current events and paid close attention to her Detailed Application Form (DAF), recognizing its unique nature.

WISE WORDS 

Kuhoo’s hard work paid off. “One door closes, another opens,” she says, reflecting on her journey. “It’s important to stay open to opportunities and never give up. Make a plan, stick to it, and focus on yourself.” Kuhoo Garg’s story is an inspiration to all, a reminder that success can be found on unexpected paths.


Indian Masterminds Stories

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