How These Women Cracked The IAS Exam And Became IAS Officers

Published on 5 Oct 2021 . 1 min read



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Learn how to become an IAS officer and get inspired to crack the IAS exam with examples of successful women UPSC toppers who became IAS officers in India.

What is the IAS? The Indian Administrative Service (IAS) is a service-oriented role that involves serving the Central and State governments by helping to implement and administer their policies.

In addition, IAS officers provide the government with feedback on the impact of their policies, thereby helping the Indian Government to measure the success of their policies and frame better policies going forward.

So, if your intention is to help your nation, be of service to Indians, and make a difference to them, you have a very good reason for wanting to crack the IAS exam and become an IAS officer.

Inspiring women IAS officers who broke the mould

Although the IAS is assumed to be a male-dominated profession, we know that women do very well in service-oriented roles. Here are some of the successful women IAS officers who broke the mould and achieved new heights of success in the Indian Civil Services.

  • Anna Rajam Malhotra

Anna Rajam Malhotra was the first woman to pass the civil services examination in 1950 and became the first woman IAS officer. She was discouraged from joining the service, but argued her case and stood her ground.

Ultimately, she was responsible for building India's first computerised port, Nhavasheva, in Mumbai, and was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1989.

  • Annies Kanmani Joy

Annies Kanmani Joy succeeded in breaking the Covid-19 transmission chain successfully by implementing an early lockdown. Challenged by the lack of books during her IAS exam preparation, she used newspapers as her reference material and secured the 65th rank in the IAS exam.

  • Smita Sabharwal

One of the youngest IAS officers, Smita Sabharwal failed her first attempt to pass the IAS exam, but topped her second and became an IAS officer at the age of 23. She was nominated for the Prime Minister’s award for excellence in public service and is popularly known as the ‘People’s Officer.’

  • Aruna Sundararajan

Aruna Sundararajan is not only an IAS officer but also the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) secretary and started a project to train people with basic digital skills.

  • Ira Singhal

Computer engineer, Ira Singhal, overcame her physical restrictions to clear the Civil Service Examination (CES) in the first attempt.

Her physical limitations prevented her from taking up a position in the IAS, but she became the brand ambassador of the Department of Disability and one of the designers of the CBSE Examination policy for children with disabilities.

  • Tina Dabi

The first-ever Scheduled Caste girl to crack the IAS exam and secure the first rank at the age of 22, Tina Dabi has the achievement of having successfully handled the Pandemic situation in Bhilwara, Rajasthan.

  • Anu Kumari

If you give the IAS exam and don’t succeed on your first attempt, don’t get discouraged. Take courage from Anu Kumari, who was a mother to a toddler when she appeared for the UPSC exams. She failed in her first attempt by just 1 mark, but didn’t give up, and went on to become a UPSC topper, securing All India Rank 2 in 2017!

  • Surabhi Gautam

Don’t be discouraged if you need to learn English or lack confidence. Take inspiration from the inspiring story of Surabhi Gautam who overcame an inferiority complex as a Hindi medium student to crack the IAS exam and become an IAS officer.

  • Artika Shukla

25-year old doctor, Artika Shukla, from Varanasi made her city proud by securing the 4th rank in the 2015 civil services examination in her first attempt. She hopes to work tirelessly to bring a positive change in the lives of the poor.

  • Pratibha Verma

IAS officer, Pratibha Verma, came from the small town of Sultanpur in Uttar Pradesh and battled serious health issues during her UPSC exam preparation, but still managed to secure All India 3rd rank in the UPSC exam 2019.

  • Renu Raj

IAS officer, Renu Raj, quit her job as a doctor to crack the IAS exam in her first attempt and ranked 2nd in the country. In her 10-month term, she took strict action against illegal constructions and land encroachments in the hill station of Munnar.

  • Aashima Goyal

26-year old Ashima Goyal, the daughter of a cyber café owner from Ballabgarh town, secured the 65th rank in the country on her second UPSC attempt.

  • Neha Banerjee

Neha Banerjee had an illustrious resume as a graduate of Electrical Engineering from IIT Kharagpur and also dabbled in music, writing, and a corporate job before securing the 20th rank in UPSC CSE 2019.

  • Ruchi Bindal

For 26-year-old Ruchi Bindal, it was a case of being the fifth time lucky as she secured the 39th All-India Rank in UPSC CSE 2020. In serving the nation as a civil servant, she wants to work against child marriage and do something positive for transgenders.

Civil Service Exam

How much does an IAS officer get paid?

As per the 7th Pay Commission, an IAS officer gets a basic salary of INR 56,100. The Cabinet Secretary is the senior-most IAS officer and gets a salary of INR 2.5 lakhs per month.

However, aside from the immense respect that an IAS officer commands, this job also comes with a lot of benefits and perks, such as travel allowance and dearness allowance, which can bring an IAS officer’s monthly salary to over 1 lakh a month.

Here are some of the excellent perks and benefits of an IAS officer’s job:

  • Government accommodation with subsidy
  • Security & other staff based on the situation and requirement
  • Reimbursement of mobile, telephone, and internet charges
  • Household help including cooks & gardeners
  • No charges for staying in government hotels or bungalows while on-duty
  • Government transport facilities for all state and district level officers
  • Monthly pension after retirement

How to become an IAS officer after 12th?

So, how to become an IAS officer? To become an IAS officer, you must have a degree, be at least 21 years of age, and have passed the Civil Service Exam (CSE).

Also known as the UPSC exam or IAS exam, the CSE is the nationwide civil service competitive exam conducted by UPSC (Union Public Service Commission).

It is the most difficult competitive examination in India and is based on the British era Imperial Civil Service tests, as well as the civil service tests conducted by old Indian empires, such as the Mauryan Empire and Mughal Empire.

UPSC eligibility criteria

What is the qualification for UPSC exam eligibility? To apply for the IAS exam, you must be a citizen of India between the ages of 21 to 32 years. However, these age restrictions are flexible, depending on caste reservations, and for certain categories of defence personnel.

If you have a 12th pass certificate, have given the final exams of any of the degree courses below, and are awaiting your exam results, you can apply for the IAS exam. However, you will be allowed to sit for the exam only if you have passed your degree course or any of the equivalent courses below.

  • Degree from Central, State or Deemed university
  • Correspondence or distance education degree
  • Open university or private university degree.
  • Foreign university degree recognized by the Association of Indian Universities.
  • A qualification that is equivalent to one of the above as recognized by the Government of India.
  • The final exam of ICAI, ICSI and ICWAI.
  • The final exam of the MBBS degree, but not completed the internship.

How much percentage is required to become an IAS officer? Don’t worry about it! Your 12th standard marks are not important when applying for the IAS exam. The essential eligibility criteria for becoming an IAS officer is a Bachelor's degree from any recognised institution.

UPSC CSE

IAS exam preparation tips

If you have all the basic requirements to become an IAS officer, you now need to learn all about the UPSC CSE exam and ace it. The exams are conducted in three stages:

  • Stage I: Prelims - The preliminary examination consisting of two objective-type papers (General Studies Paper-I and General Studies Paper-II, also popularly known as Civil Service Aptitude Test or CSAT). The Prelims are held in June every year and the results are announced in August.
  • Stage II: Mains - This examination consists of 9 conventional (essay) type papers, in which two papers are qualifying and only marks of seven are counted. The Mains are held in October every year and the results are announced in January.
  • Stage III: Personality Test (Interview) - This is held in March and the final results are usually announced in May.

Almost 1 million candidates apply for the UPSC CSE every year and approximately half that many actually appear for the exams. Selected candidates who get through Stage I & II attend a training program that usually starts the following September.

Preparation for a single exam attempt takes two years - one year before the prelims and one year from prelims to the interview. A successful aspirant sits for 32 hours of examination during the complete process.

General category candidates can attempt the UPSC exam 6 times, while OBC category candidates can appear a maximum of 9 times, and SC/ST candidates can appear an unlimited number of times till 37 years of age.

If you appear for one of the papers in the preliminary examination, it is counted as an attempt. However, applying to sit for the exam but failing to attend is not counted as an attempt.

Check the UPSC website for the notification which comes out from January to February and apply for the exam. These exam preparation tips will help with your IAS preparation.

Watch this video with tips from UPSC topper, Artika Shukla, to learn what mistakes to avoid during your exam preparation. As she advises, practising with old exam question papers is the best exam preparation strategy to improve your chance of cracking the paper.

In addition, Artika recommends finding a guide or mentor among your seniors who have passed the exam, so you can get their guidance to improve your results.

UPSC Topper, Ruchi Bindal, focussed on getting into the Civil Service only after she learnt about various administrative policies. She says:

"For my preparations, I relied on expanding my knowledge base and brushing it up daily. I did a lot of mock tests."

You can get familiar with the UPSC exam pattern, exam paper, and questions by doing a free online mock test for government jobs here.

Aashima Goyal, who spent nine to ten hours studying daily for the exam, said that exchanging notes and ideas and suggestions with her friends helped a lot.

UPSC topper, Neha Bannerjee, recommends dividing your exam preparations into three parts and says:

“For the first three to four months, you should concentrate only on understanding the pattern of the exam like the syllabus, trends of the questions etc. Then gradually follow the basic sources like NCERT question papers, and try to get accustomed to newspaper reading.

For cracking UPSC, you have to know about every development around you and newspapers are the one-stop source for that. These are the foundation elements of this exam that everyone has to cover. And if you are not very comfortable in writing, then I would advise you to get accustomed to writing.”

In the Glow & Lovely Careers community, you can chat with a career coach to know what to study to become an IAS officer and what subjects are included in the UPSC syllabus. You will also get motivation tips to help you stay positive while studying for the exam.

IAS Exam

Free courses to prepare for the IAS exam

In the Glow & Lovely community, as part of your self-preparation for IAS exams, you can learn English online free and improve your English speaking skills with these free online courses with certificates.

Public Administration is one of the optional subjects in the UPSC Civil Services Main Examination and a popular subject choice because of its relevance for IAS aspirants. The free courses below will help you with the public administration syllabus for IAS exam preparation.

Introduction To Public Administration from NIIT

Public administration is the implementation of government policy and also an academic discipline that studies this implementation and prepares civil servants for working in the public service.

This free Introduction To Public Administration Course from NIIT will give you an introduction to this field of inquiry with the fundamental goal of advancing management and policies so that government can function.

Master in Public Admin from NIIT

This Master in Public Admin course from NIIT will teach you more about public administration, and upon successful completion, you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate considerable knowledge of historical, comparative and theoretical perspectives on public administration, management and governance
  • Demonstrate considerable knowledge of key debates and thinking in public administration, management and governance in Australia and globally
  • Demonstrate considerable knowledge of research principles and methods relevant to public administration, management and governance
  • Apply theories, concepts and research methods in investigating and analysing the complexities and challenges of public administration, management and governance
  • Apply knowledge and skills in self-management, communication and teamwork activity in responding to the complexities and challenges of public administration, management and governance.

In the Glow & Lovely Careers community, you can chat with a career coach and get free online career guidance to help you achieve your career goals and aspirations of becoming an IAS officer.

We wish you the best of success with your IAS exams preparation and with cracking the CSE!


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Priya Florence Shah
Priya Florence Shah is a bestselling author, award-winning publisher of Naaree.com and online branding consultant. Since 2006, she has published Naaree.com - one of the top blogs for women.


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