New Delhi: Former Miss India finalist Aishwarya Sheoran is among the crop of civil service aspirants who cracked the 2019 exam. Scoring an all-India rank of 93, she is thrilled to have secured her ultimate dream job of becoming an IAS officer.
The 23-year-old who considers modelling her hobby and civil service her “true passion”, said she didn’t join any coaching classes to prepare for the exam. Instead, she began reading current affairs from the Internet.
In an exclusive interview to ThePrint, Sheoran, a native of Rajasthan, said that gone were the days when civil servants “looked cliche”.
“Now, a civil servant (is someone) with a multi-faceted personality, who looks easily approachable, holds much more acceptance among people,” she explained.
“People now can relate to civil servants. Access to civil servants has also now become much easier,” said Sheoran, who was among the top 21 finalists in 2016 Miss India pageant.
A Delhi University graduate, Sheoran said she quit social media in 2018 to prepare for the exams.
The Miss India pageant’s official Instagram account shared a post Tuesday, lauding Sheoran for cracking the UPSC exam.
“Aishwarya has been one of the Miss India Finalists in 2016, Campus Princess Delhi 2016, Fresh Face Delhi Winner 2015 and she truly fulfills the beauty with a purpose title,” the post read.
Sheoran’s father is a colonel in the Army and she has lived in various parts of the country due to his job postings. She was born in Rajasthan and completed her Class 10 and 12 in Delhi. She graduated from Delhi’s Shri Ram College of Commerce, and now lives with her family in Mumbai.
‘Decided on civil services in Class 12’
As the Head Girl in Class 12, she had the opportunity to meet several civil servants who would visit her school. She said it was these brief meetings that helped her make up her mind that civil services was the “right career choice” for her.
When she was in her second year of college, she participated in the Miss India contest, following which she was flooded with modelling assignments.
She ensured she finished all her modelling assignments by May 2018 to devote herself to preparing for the civil services.
“I shut myself off completely from Facebook and Instagram. I did not want any kind of distraction,” she told ThePrint.
‘Read from internet, one book for every topic’
So how did she prepare is she didn’t take the usual coaching route?
Sheoran said the Internet proved to be a boon.
“The Internet proved to be the biggest boon in my preparation. From books, old interviews to current affairs and newspapers, everything is easily available on the Internet. I started my basic preparations from there only. I chose only one book for a topic and revised it repeatedly. Strategy holds the key in UPSC preparation,” she said.
Sheoran said her younger brother, who plays under-23 cricket for the Mumbai team, helped her in preparing notes, and her parents guided her for the interview.
“I did not join any coaching classes. My younger brother helped a lot in preparing notes. When I went to appear in a mock test to prepare for the interview, I was told that ‘you are confident and you don’t need it (the mock tests)’,” she added.
‘Was asked about khap panchayat during UPSC interview’
Talking about her UPSC interview, Sheoran said she was asked about khap panchayats, among other issues. She said she was asked if she believed khap panchayats are still relevant.
Recalling her answer to the question, Sheoran told ThePrint: “I had said that even the Supreme Court has termed them illegal. These khap panchayats act as patriarchal hubs and often deliver anti-woman verdicts.”
She added: “However, if khap panchayats are to maintain their relevance, they need to use their strength in a proper way. For example, they can play a role in making the government’s ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao‘ campaign successful.”
Looking ahead, Sheoran said working on women empowerment, education and health would remain a priority for her.
“I come from the Jat community. I feel that somewhere the community is infamous for not providing women equal participation in decision-making. I have had a support system. My community also supported me during the Miss India contest, but this happens only with one out of 100 girls.”
And this, she adds, was one of the main reasons for why she wanted to join the civil services.
“One of the major reasons for me to join the civil services was that I wanted to change this scenario. I wish that hundred out of hundred girls could make their own decisions. Everyone should get the same support. More girls should come forward by seeking inspiration from us,” she added.
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