Ummul Kher secured an all India ranking of 420 in UPSC 2016. What makes her feat more glorious is that she cracked the civil services exam in the very first attempt . The 28-year-old is now pinning hope to get an IAS rank under disability quota. However, the struggle and hardship Kher went through to reach here is something which needs to be told. Kher was born with a bone disorder, the 28-year-old has so far suffered 16 fractures and undergone eight surgeries.
At the tender age of 14, Kher was abandoned by her own parents. Her family had come to Delhi from Rajasthan when she was in class 5. Her father then worked as a street vendor selling clothes near Hazrat Nizamuddin while the family lived in a nearby slum, said a report in Hindustan Times. In the capital, she took admission in Pt Deendayal Upadhyaya Institute for The Physically Handicapped. She later went to Amar Jyoti Charitable Trust where she studied till Class 8. From an early age, Kher started earning from scholarships. She later wanted to join Arwachin Bharti Bhawan senior secondary school which had better infrastructure but her parents were against her wishes. They warned her, either she quit studies or they would sever ties with her.
“I was abused. My intentions were questioned because I wanted to study. It was the worst time. They said you have now got more education than a girl should,” she told Hindustan Times. However, resistance from her parents could not deter her from pursuing education. She left her home and stayed independently at a Jhuggi on rent. Money was a big issue so she started taking tuition classes to make her ends meet.
“I had started taking tuitions but living independently meant I had to earn more money. From few children the tuitions expanded to four batches — 3pm to 5pm, then from 5pm to 7pm, 7pm to 9pm and 9pm to 11 in the night. These were mostly children from slum areas and I got between Rs 50-100 from each student. I couldn’t have expected more as these were children of labourers, iron smith, rickshaw-pullers etc,” she added.
Living in a Jhuggi alone as girl was in itself an audacious decision. “Besides, for a girl to live alone in a jhuggi was sometimes traumatic. It was never safe but I had no choice,” she said.
In class 12 exams, Kher came out with flying colours and got 91% marks. She took admission in Gargi College where she continued her tuition to fund herself. She also earned some money from debates in DU colleges. She met with an accident in 2012 which confined her to a wheelchair for a year due to her bone disorder.
After graduation, Kher pursued her masters in Jawaharlal Nehru University in International Studies. In 2013, she cracked the Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) under which she started getting Rs 25,000 per month. Later she started preparing for UPSC exam and cracked it in her very first attempt. Kher’s story proves that no matter what the circumstances are , if a person has the will and determination to excel in life nothing can stop him/her.