It is a struggle to achieve your goals with a disability and it only gets harder when your loved ones disown you for having a dream. Such was the case with Ummul Kher who has, this year, bagged an all India rank of 420 in civil service examinations of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).
Kher, the daughter of a street vendor, was born with fragile bone disorder which lead to 16 fractures and eight surgeries through her childhood. She had moved from Rajasthan to Delhi with her family when she was in class 5 and was disowned for her wish to study beyond class 8.
“I was abused. My intentions were questioned because I wanted to study. It was the worst time. They said you have now got more education than a girl should. I wanted to study at Arwachin Bharti Bhawan senior secondary school as it had better infrastructure and I had got a scholarship,” she said, as reported by HT.
She left home and took up residence at Jhuggi Jhopri (JJ) Cluster, Trilokpuri. She earned a little by giving tuition, which she says was more difficult than giving the civil service exams.
“I had started taking tuitions but living independently meant I had to earn more money. From few children the tuitions expanded to four batches — 3pm to 5pm, then from 5pm to 7pm, 7pm to 9pm and 9pm to 11 in the night. These were mostly children from slum areas and I got between Rs 50-100 from each student. I couldn’t have expected more as these were children of labourers, iron smith, rickshaw-pullers etc,” says Kher.
“Besides, for a girl to live alone in a jhuggi was sometimes traumatic. It was never safe but I had no choice.” she adds. The Amar Jyoti Charitable Trust, where she had studied till class 8, funded her further education and helped her get through the next few years.
Ummul Kher scored a whooping 91 per cent in class 12 and took admission in Gargi College. She continued giving tuition in order to fund her college fees and faced an accident in 2012 that bound her to a wheelchair for a while.
After graduating, she earned a seat a Jawharlal Nehru University (JNU) with a 100 per cent scholarship with an additional a means-cum-merit of Rs 2000. She then went on to crack the Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) through which she started earning Rs 25,000 per month.
Despite facing many hurdles, she appeared for the UPSC civil service exams 2017 and managed to grab rank 420 at the age of 28 in her first attempt. Kher says she does not blame her parents for what they were brought up to believe and aims to become get IAS through the disability category.