Poonam Singh

In 2021, Pragati Rani from Haryana’s Kurukshetra embarked on her UPSC journey, appearing for the preliminary examination. Although falling a few marks short, she didn't let this setback deter her. This year, at the age of 31 and a mother to a three-year-old boy, Rani secured the 355th rank in the UPSC exam, surpassing her previous attempt, and she is poised to become an IAS officer.

Driven by her husband, Dr Atul Verma, Rani, a radiologist by profession, she initiated her civil services preparation when her son was merely six months old. Juggling her responsibilities wasn't easy, especially with Atul pursuing his MD.

"I used to prepare for the civil services from home, trying to balance my studies with caring for my child. Sometimes, he would stay with his grandmother, allowing me a bit of time to focus on my studies," she said in an interview with The Indian Express.

Her most effective study time was after her son slept, usually around 9:30 pm. Despite the challenges, Rani cleared three prestigious exams – the UPSC twice and the Haryana civil services exam, where she secured second position.

In the 2022-23 UPSC exam, Rani secured 740th rank, potentially landing her a position in the DANICS cadre. However, she opted for the Haryana civil services, having emerged second in the HPSC examination in 2023.

Following her training, Rani assumed the role of an officer on special duty to the Ambala divisional commissioner in November 2023. Despite her professional commitments, she continued to strive for improvement in her UPSC scores.

This attempt proved more challenging as her son grew older. "He was aware of my studies and often asked me to play with him," she recalled, reminiscing about the tough balancing act of motherhood, career, and aspirations.

Securing the 355th rank in the UPSC exam this year, Rani, belonging to the Other Backward Class (OBC) category, is optimistic about securing the coveted IAS position.

Rani advises UPSC aspirants to have a Plan B ready, acknowledging the exam's unpredictability. She emphasizes the importance of maintaining one's health and balance in life during the rigorous preparation phase.

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Reflecting on her upbringing, Rani credits her parents for instilling humility and a strong work ethic in her. Her mother's aspirations for her to become a doctor and her father's emphasis on humility propelled her forward.

Rani acknowledges her husband and in-laws' unwavering support and encouragement in pursuing her civil services dreams.

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