In 2013, Dr. Ruveda Salam, from the remote Farkin village in the border district of Kupwara, made history by becoming the first woman from the Kashmir valley to crack the UPSC exams. After serving as the Assistant Commissioner of Police in Chennai for a year, in 2015 she yet again cracked the UPSC exam to fulfill a childhood dream of becoming an IAS officer.
Living in the Kashmir valley poses its own set of challenges. Political disturbances, strikes, curfews and local stone pelting episodes are many and frequent. Twenty seven year old Ruveda Salam had to face these challenges on a day to day basis. Despite lack of professional coaching classes, limited access to newspapers and study material, Ruveda strived hard and has successfully cleared the UPSC exams, not once, but twice, paving her way to fulfill her childhood dream of becoming an IAS officer.
It was Ruveda’s father who inspired her, giving the confidence to work towards becoming an IAS officer. Her mother on the other hand fended of all suggestions of an early marriage, letting Ruveda focus on fulfilling her childhood dream. She has come a long way since.
Ruveda began her career in 2009 when she got a medical degree from the Government Medical College in Srinagar. At the time of internship, she applied for the J&K Public Service Commission examination. There were 398 posts advertised and Ruveda with her state rank of 25 secured a post. She quit medicine and joined the state civil services, working for two years.
In 2013, she sat for the UPSC exams. She cracked this coveted exam to become the first women from the Kashmir valley to do so. Her initial posting was in the Indian Police Services. She trained at Hyderabad and on completion served as the Assistant Commissioner of Police in Chennai.
But this wasn’t the real success she sought. She still had to fulfill her childhood dream of becoming an IAS officer. Yet again, in 2015, she cleared the UPSC exam for the second time, and this time with a higher rank which enabled her to join the IAS.
Apart from these career successes, Ruveda works towards inspiring many youngsters, particularly girls. She has given motivational speeches on many platforms, where she discusses matters such as IPS training, her love for her work and preparation for the Civil Services examinations. She wishes to see more girls from Kashmir scale new heights of success, and encourages them to come forward to appear for these exams.
“Being a Kashmiri when you venture outside your state, some people feel we are anti-India. We can change that perception with our attitude. Others feel that we cannot compete; we can change that by proving our mettle. As a Kashmiri girl it is more difficult as people think we don’t venture out. With the right attitude this can also be overcome.”
What can we say! We wish more such inspiring people would come ahead to change the outlook in our society that forms many prejudices against women. For Ruveda, it was the dream instilled in her mind since childhood. She made it possible through sheer hard work and perseverance.
This post was featured in “The Better India”. A day after the #UPSC results are out, this story holds a lot of relevance. It had to be retold. You could also read it here Meet The First Woman IAS Officer From Kashmir. She Cracked the UPSC Exams Twice!