Dr Ruveda Salam, who hails from the border district of Kupwara, became the first Muslim woman from the Kashmir valley to pass the UPSC examination. She is an incumbent Indian Police Service official posted in Chennai and has again cracked the coveted list of Indian Administrative Services, registering a rank of 878. She became the first woman in Kashmir to crack the IAS examination, in 2013. She is a daughter of former deputy director general of Doordarshan first graduated as a medical doctor and then qualified for the Kashmir Administrative Examination.
She attributes her success to her persistent hard-work and parental support. She says that in Kashmir, girls usually get married at an early age but because her family supported her extensively, it was easy to fend off the pressure from her relatives. The journey towards this dream has been difficult being a woman in Kashmir. Kashmir is always in chaos- strikes, militancy, disturbance and it has been difficult to reach till here. “We risk our lives in the midst of stone pelting. It is difficult to even get newspapers and study material,” she told in an interview. Even while working, the daily life is challenging in Kashmir. “We have to reach our office even when there are strikes, no matter what,” she told. Amid all this, it has been challenging to stay focused on my goals. There is always something or the thing going around in Kashmir that distract you from the path and doesn’t allow you to focus on your studies, she expressed, adding that it was because of my conviction that I was able to get those things out of my mind and focus on my path.
In context of her preparation for the crucial exams, she said that she qualified the examination without any coaching. After she started working, she was on a probation period for some time and it was nearly impossible for her to move to Delhi or any other metropolitan city to undertake coaching. She shared that she got the right material and prepared for one whole year before the preliminary exam. Internet has been a great help and gave an easy access to information needed. She said, “I also took guidance of some senior IAS officers in the state. I carried out my study books to office and whenever time permitted I’d take them out and study.”
She expressed that she was just preparing to get into all-India service and becoming the first woman to get a rank in the UPSC from the valley is a thing of pride. Throughout her preparation, she was focused and persistent and was able to stick to her goal, despite the frequent political disturbances in the region.
After her school, she says, there were not many opportunities and being a doctor or engineering was considered to be prestigious in the valley. “I completed my MBBS and, because my parents always supported me, I followed my conviction,” she expressed.
“It is all about conviction and a burning desire”- Ruveda Salam, an inspiration for the women of Kashmir.