We see a lot of struggle stories every year from CSE aspirants and their UPSC preparation. But there are only a few struggle stories that become an inspiration to others and remain in everybody’s mind for ages. Do you want to know what is the most inspiring story about IAS interviews? Today we will be talking about a few of such stories that changed these UPSC toppers’ lives, and what we can learn from them.

Anu Kumari

India is a huge country, and with 134 crore Indians comes 134 crore new stories. After marriage, where most of the women stay home and take care of children, Anu Kumari is one you would definitely want to know about. She is a mother of a 4-year-old boy and topped UPSC CSE in 2017 with an astonishing final mark of 1124. She grabbed the 2nd position in the 2017 IAS Interview.

Being married in Sonipat, Haryana, and a young child to take care of, she couldn’t continue with the job and stayed home as a homemaker, even after having an MBA Degree in finance. She thought of using the opportunity to serve the country and do something meaningful with her life. She started preparing for IAS. She collected notes and a UPSC booklist by toppers. With the right kind of support from family and friends, she cleared the IAS in her second attempt.

Varun Baranwal

A bright boy who topped his 10th standard, Varun was left shattered to leave school as his father passed away just before the results. He thought of leaving studies and working in his father’s Cycle Repair shop to earn his family’s wage; but was motivated by his mother and sister to continue his study, while they worked to earn the bread and butter.

He continued his higher secondary studies along with working in a cycle repair shop, giving tuitions, and a few other jobs here and there. He relied on his studies so much that teachers and other students realised his struggle and financed his schooling. He struggled his way out and topped the common entrance test (CET), Maharashtra for Engineering. His first-year fees were all he could arrange, but second year onwards, it was his friends and colleagues who took care of the fees. He became the gold medalist at his university.

He got placed in the corporate sector; and as he was growing, he came to know UPSC ESE, which led him to UPSC, and subsequently, he started studying for CSE. With all this going on in life, he was determined to succeed and achieved 32nd rank in UPSC CSE 2017. Currently, he is serving as an Assistant Collector in Himmatnagar, Gujarat.

Abhishek Surana

The boy left his high paying job in Singapore and came back to serve the country as an IPS Officer. Abhishek belongs to Bhilwara, Rajasthan. Graduating from IIT Delhi, he has seen the focus and determination UPSC aspirants put into getting into the service. He was always inclined to serving for the social cause and standing for something that matters.

He had a comfortable life in Singapore after getting placed from the university, but he missed the struggle and thrill of life. He came back to India and started his IAS preparation. He appeared for the exam thrice, and when offered IPS, he grabbed the opportunity; but never gave up studying. He was determined to work as an IAS Officer and cleared the exam in his fourth attempt. Currently, he is serving as a Sub-Division Magistrate in Rajasthan.

Saumya Sharma

This can be an inspiration for those who are planning to start late for UPSC. Saumya Sharma is an achiever who prepared merely four months to clear the exam. With sincerity and sheer hard work, attempting an exam like CSE and securing the 9th rank in the first attempt was miraculous for many. Saumya was in the 5th year of her graduation from National Law School.

She decided to attempt CSE 2017 and made a schedule for the week. Sacrificing her weekend visits to her home from the hostel, she started studying 14-15 hours a day for the IAS Exam. Just before the exam, she fell sick due to spasms in the right hand. But she didn’t let it come in her way; she was in constant pain during the exam, but yet finished it. She had done no revision, had no sleep, and a high fever.

To date, she believes that clarity and perfection are everything. Even in her condition, which is a nightmare for many, she was focused on the end goal, which she eventually achieved. She studied smartly and made sure no stone was left unturned to clear UPSC and covered almost every subject. She is currently serving in Kanjhawala, Delhi as Sub-Division Magistrate.

Ummul Kher

Disability is a state of mind. Ummul Kher is suffering from a fragile bone disorder, and so far has gone through eight surgeries since her childhood. Her father, who was a street vendor, disowned her after she requested studying beyond 8th standard. She had no one who she could rely on, no loved ones by her side, but she wanted to keep moving ahead in life.

She decided to earn herself and stayed away from her family. Ummul took tuitions for small children and managed to get a scholarship from the school. She scored an astonishing 91% in her 12th boards and continued earning for college fees. When everything was going smoothly, she met with an accident and became wheelchair-bound for a prolonged period. Later she got admission into JNU with a 100% scholarship, along with an INR 25,000 stipend under a junior fellowship program.

She was a bright student, which gave her opportunities to travel to Japan and South Korea for International Conferences. Yet, she decided to serve her nation, which could bring change to our society. She prepared for UPSC and achieved her dream in 2016 by coming under the list of IAS toppers.

Mohammad Ali Shihab

The incredible boy from the South, Mohammad Ali Shihab, belongs to Kerala. At a very young age, he had to face many hurdles. His father was asthmatic, and with no one else to earn in the family, Mohammad was forced to sit in his father’s Paan shop. At the age of 11, his father passed away. With no financial support from any side, his mother sent him and his brother to an orphanage at Kozhikode.

He got schooling from a government school and became a peon in Kerala Water Authority, and then at the Gram Panchayat. He also worked as a Jail Warden, Forester, and Railway Ticket Collector. He graduated with a B.A. degree in History. In the idle hours, he used to study for his dream of becoming an IAS officer. He had a disciplined life at the orphanage, which was missing in earlier stages of life. He achieved his dreams in 2011 by clearing the UPSC CSE with flying colours.


These are some of the most inspirational stories of people who faced insurmountable odds, yet never gave up on their dreams and worked hard to achieve success in UPSC CSE.

We have many such blogs on our official website UPSC Pathshala. Do keep reading our other blogs for more UPSC specific content. We also provide UPSC coaching through both online and offline classes.

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What is the Most Inspiring Story about IAS Interviews? Here’re 6 Inspiring Stories to Urge You on!
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What is the Most Inspiring Story about IAS Interviews? Here’re 6 Inspiring Stories to Urge You on!
Looking for inspirational stories and UPSC booklist by toppers from some of the best IAS Toppers? Read the article to get inspired.
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