The impact of her mother’s public service was so deeply etched in the mind of Vishwanjali Gaikwad that when she was in her teens, she decided her vocation: to join civil services and serve the public. In this year’s Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) examination, the results of which were released on Wednesday, the 25-year-old secured the 11th rank in the country and came first in Maharashtra.
This was the second attempt by Gaikwad, a resident of Prabhat Road, to ace the exam.
Daughter of professors Jyoti and Murlidhar Gaikwad, she grew up in an academically-oriented family, learning the importance of studies and discipline early in life. But it wasn’t until her mother, a former vice-principal of MMCC College, started volunteering for the Std XI admission process that she realised how a small gesture of help for someone unknown can bring immense satisfaction. “I saw my mother volunteer for the admission process for 15 years. Yes, it was tiring, but I saw the impact… I saw how a small deed by her could help someone to such a great extent. Over the years, I realised that I have the same personality trait. Like my mother, I wanted to make an impact on people’s lives and that’s why I set my heart on civil services,” she said.
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Her personal interests also contributed to Gaikwad’s decision to take the UPSC exam. “I am interested in multi-disciplinary studies and that’s why preparing for civil services appealed to me,” she said. A bright student throughout her academic life, when it came to choosing a discipline for her graduation, she chose computer engineering. So why did she choose a science subject, when most UPSC hopefuls opt for an Arts degree? Gaikwad said a student should choose a subject he/she has a genuine interest in, or it would “turn out to be a waste of time”.
“… What’s the point of being an officer who knows nothing? I decided to take up a course that I like and study it in depth, so that it comes in handy later. Also, had I not cleared UPSC, an engineering degree would have been a better option to fall back on. But yes, it is true that an Arts degree would have given me more time to prepare for UPSC…,” said the former student of College of Engineering, Pune.
It was only after graduating in 2014 that she started preparing for the UPSC exam. While she took guidance from two coaching institutes and enrolled for test papers in one, for the last two years, it has been mostly self-study for Gaikwad.
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