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For this Haryana family, the civil services have become a family tradition

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Shruti is the daughter of senior IAS officer Keshni Anand Arora, next in line to become the chief secretary of Haryana. Keshni’s predecessors in the post include Meenakshi Anand Chaudhary and Urvashi Gulati, her sisters.

Chandigarh: When Shruti Arora, a 25-year-old engineer from Chandigarh, scored the 118th rank in the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) exam, she only carried forward a family legacy.

Shruti is the daughter of senior IAS officer Keshni Anand Arora, a 1983-batch bureaucrat who is next in line to become the chief secretary of Haryana. Keshni’s predecessors in the post include Meenakshi Anand Chaudhary and Urvashi Gulati, her sisters.

“The entire credit of what we are goes to our parents,” said Keshni, adding that she was elated her daughter is set for the civil services as well. “Shruti will get into the Indian Police Service, and it is a matter of pride for us,” she added.

Keshni’s father Dr Jagdish Chander Anand was a highly respected professor of political science at Panjab University. He and his wife were champions of education and encouraged their daughters to study and become independent.

File photo of Dr. Jagdish Chander Anand

“My mother and father were determined to educate us and ensure we had independent careers rather than getting us married after graduation,” said Keshni.

Anand himself taught his three daughters at home. “Since political science was his subject, we all took that as one of the subjects in the civil services exam. He taught us the other subjects too,” said Keshni, who is currently Haryana additional chief secretary and heads the revenue department.

Several of Anand’s university students also aced the UPSC exam and rose to careers in the civil services.

Education First

UPSC results
From Left Meenakshi Anand Chaudhary, Urvashi Gulati and Keshni Anand Arora

Originally from pre-Independence Pakistan, the family found itself uprooted after Partition and saw a good education as the only way to start afresh.

“Our parents had come from Pakistan. They belonged to well-off families there. They were holidaying in Mussoorie when India was partitioned and they could never go back. My mother, a housewife, realised that if one is educated, one can start afresh anywhere and education is empowerment,” she added.

“The atmosphere at our home was of only studies. When television became available, our parents did not buy it. We never went to any academy for tuitions,” said Keshni. “I guess having the right atmosphere at home is the most essential aspect for children to study. That is what helped Shruti,” Keshni said.

The three girls first pursued a master’s in political science, and went on to top the university.

Meenakshi, a 1969-batch IAS officer, and Urvashi, a 1975-batch IAS officer, were among the country’s first 20 rankers in the UPSC exam. In 1983, Keshni stood second.

When Meenakshi took over as the chief secretary of Haryana, she was the first woman to do so. In a state known for having the worst sex ratio and endemic gender discrimination, she set an example her sisters followed. Urvashi took over as chief secretary in 2009. Meenakshi and Keshni are married to doctors, while Urvashi married an IAS officer of the Haryana cadre. Her two daughters are in private sector jobs, while Meenakshi’s son Maneesh Chaudhary is an IPS officer posted in Haryana.

Shruti studied at Sacred Heart Senior Secondary School in Chandigarh, and pursued engineering at the University Institute of Engineering and Technology (UIET). A national-level fencer, she plays professional snooker too.

“I lost my mother when I was 27. My father passed away in 2014,” said Keshni. “They would have been delighted to see Shruti get into the civil services. But I believe their blessings are with us, always,” she added.

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