Poonam Singh

In 2012, Komal Ganatra not only cleared the UPSC Civil Services exam but also secured an impressive 591st rank among thousands of candidates. But her story goes beyond the usual UPSC success story, as she battled deep misery to achieve this milestone.

Married to a New Zealand businessman in 2008 at the age of 26, Komal faced eviction from her In-laws because she could not afford a dowry. Abandoned weeks after her marriage, she unsuccessfully sought justice and returned to her parents’ home in Savarkundala, Gujarat, where harsh criticism and taunts from relatives and neighbours added to her difficulties, according to a DNA report.

Komal, who held a diploma in engineering, decided to carve out a new path for herself. She moved to a remote village about 40 km from her hometown and took up a job as a primary school teacher.

She managed to sustain herself on a meagre salary of Rs 5000 per month. It was during this time that she started preparing for the civil services examination. Her personal experiences motivated her to become a part of the system and work towards changing it for the better.

She completed her engineering degree from Rajkot Government Polytechnic. She also earned a BA degree from Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University and a Primary Teachers Training Certificate from a college in her hometown.

However, her UPSC preparation in a remote village had its own set of challenges like erratic power supply and lack of proper guidance. She could not also subscribe to an English newspaper, a crucial resource for staying updated with daily current affairs for the UPSC exam aspirants.

Despite these obstacles, Komal gained brief access to Sardar Patel Institute of Public Administration (SPIPA), a Gujarat government institute that trains IAS aspirants which helped her to prepare for the exam.

In her fourth attempt in 2012, Komal cleared the civil services examination secured an all-India rank of 591 and was allocated the Indian Revenue Service (IRS). 

Komal is currently posted in the Ministry of Defence as an Administrative Officer in Delhi. She also found love again and remarried and now is a mother to a cute little daughter named Takshvi.

In an interview with The Better India, Komal credits her struggles and difficulties for her success. She was quoted as saying, “If it weren’t for my struggles, I would never have become so strong. My past taught me the virtues of independence and self-sufficiency.”