Urged by her parents to opt for something other than engineering, as
they felt it would not suite her, she decided for even harder. “To
our surprise, when we urged her to look for something else than
engineering, she decided to try for UPSC”, Siraj Faruqui, the proud
father of Sufiyah Faruqui, who ranked an imposing 20th
rank in the list of 791 candidates recommended by Union Public
Services Commission (UPSC) for the plush government jobs, recalled.
He paused, laughed for few moments and then continued, “We were in
fact puzzled and couldn’t advise her to rethink. But one thing was
there in our minds. Owing to the hard work needed to crack the UPSC
exams, we thought she would realize the difficulties and would
change her mind very soon.” Siraj Faruqui, himself an employee with
state civil services, was speaking to ummid.com from his Bhopal
Sufiyah on her part however was firmly resolute. After early
failures, May 4, 2009 was finally her day when Union Public Services
Commission (UPSC) announced the results. Ranked 20 in the list of
791 recommended candidates, Sufiyah was not only among the top 100s
but also topped the list of 31 Muslims from all across the country
who made their way to the coveted civil services.
When ummid.com requested her for an interview, there was a long
queue of media personnel at her Bhopal residence. Yet Sufiyah
gracefully accepted our request to share her inspiring, motivating
and guiding accounts with Aleem Faizee for the ummid.com readers.
History was my favorite subject. Owing to the passion I had for the
subject, I developed a very good reading habit and went on to
complete my post graduation in Arts with History as the special
subject. Afterwards I had a chance to join a local college as a
Lecturer but declined because something in me was urging me to opt
for even harder. My family background too helped me in deciding the
career. Hailing from a well off family with quite a few numbers of
bureaucrats had given me a chance to closely monitor their life.
There were likes of Indira Mishra, former Chief Secretary
Chattisgarh, Late IAS Mrs. Tajurrehman and other lady IAS officers
who inspired me a lot. Hence when I was to choose one, it did not
take me long to give civil services a try.
Was it an easy decision?
Certainly not! But I had always taken the challenges in my stride.
Once decided, I never let lose my confidence and tirelessly worked
to achieve my target. In the first attempt I failed. Instead of
losing confidence I analysed myself and found my preparation for the
coveted exam was not satisfactory. Also, for the guidance I heavily
depended on local resources. I found them insufficient. Hence I
traveled to Delhi and other places to seek guidance, counseling and
even coaching needed to crack the exams. Yet I failed. However I
kept on trying and finally succeeded in my fourth and final attempt.
In so many years since 2005 when you persistently worked to achieve
your goal despite failures, was there any moment during this tenure
when you thought of revoking your decision?
Never! Opting out was never in my wish list. In fact there was a
time when after I failed in the third attempt, my parents and other
family members were advising me to withdraw. But it was me who
persuaded them to keep faith in me. I took special care for my final
attempt. So prepared was I for this attempt that even before the
declaration of the results I firmly believed, nobody could stop me this
And the secret mantra for the belief was?
That I knew my weaknesses was my greatest strength. Moreover
cracking UPSC exam is all about time-management, stress handling,
your stamina and how effectively you perform in a difficult
situation. Academic apart, it is a test to judge if you are
emotionally and mentally strong enough to cope with pressure. There
was a lesson for me in every failure. I successfully worked on them
and the result is for all to see.
Looking at the hard work involved and the tests you listed here,
don’t you find it surprising that the girls hold the fort and stand
ahead of their male counterparts in the UPSC list?
Physically they might look brittle but the fact is that girls are
emotionally stronger, are focused and can handle a difficult
situation more effectively.
Apart from your own efforts, to whom you would give credit for the
family and the peer group consisting of close friends who firmly
stood behind me. Then there are fellow colleagues who along with me
were preparing for the UPSC exams. One among them was my senior
Pooja Pande who supported me the most. Also, the support I received
from Hamdard Delhi and other resource persons in various subjects
immensely helped me to reach to this place.
What would you advise to the students who aspire to appear for the
UPSC exams in near future?
There are instances of bright, intelligent and capable students
failing in the UPSC exams. The reason is lack of proper guidance,
family constraints and of course the finance. Hence those who are
really interested in civil services and intend to appear for UPSC
exams should carefully look at these limitations. Also, they ought
to be dedicated, hard working, focused, very sincere and should be
prepared to handle the gamble that is associated with UPSC exams.
The results are not in one’s favour always. Effectively handling
such situations determine one’s strength. Where one stands vis-à-vis
these virtues decide weather he or she is capable of civil services
Finally when we asked about
her future ambitions, she shrugged off and smiled as if to suggest
she now needs a break after years of persistent hardship before she
could think on something else.