3 women take long road to IAS top 3

From IIT to the US, UK and Singapore, Shubhra Saxena went all over the world but came back to a rented apartment in the city's Rajendra Nagar where she worked towards her dream of becoming a civil servant.

The lure of a high-paying cushioned career wasn't enough for this IAS topper who quit her job in 2006. She took a chance and three years later, she made it.

Last year, she had gone to the UPSC Building on Shah Jahan Road and had to jostle her way through the crowd. But it was her husband who had to break the bad news to her. So at 5 pm today, she logged on to the UPSC website instead. And her name was right there, at the top.

"I couldn't believe it. It slowly started sinking in, it's a big thing, particularly when you haven't made it the last time," she said. A woman topping the IAS examinations isn't an unusual story. But in the history of IAS examinations, it's the first time that three women have got the first three positions, and among the top 25 candidates, 10 are women.

Of the 3.18 lakh candidates who applied, 1.67 lakh took the preliminary examination; 11,849 qualified for the Main written examinations held in October-November 2008 and 2,140 were selected for the Personality Test. Finally, 625 men and 166 women made the cut.

For Saxena, success took a long, winding road. After having completed her schooling from Hazaribagh in Jharkhand, Saxena went to IIT Roorkee, took up a job in the IT sector, travelling to United States, UK and Singapore. But she wasn't happy, said husband Shashank Gupta. So she quit in 2006 to prepare for the civil services examinations and lived in Rajendra Nagar with her mother. Her husband, who worked in Noida, would come over weekends and both went for dinner or movies. Rest of the week, the couple talked over the phone, hoping, and struggling to see her dreams come true. If it had not been for this time, Saxena would have had to perhaps go back to what she was doing before. This was her second and last attempt.

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