Born in the modest surroundings of a slum in Pali, Rajasthan, Ummul Kher was not destined for an ordinary life. Though she faced seemingly insurmountable challenges right from childhood, she rose like a phoenix, ultimately adorning the esteemed position of an IAS officer.

The specter of disability hung over Ummul since her early years. Diagnosed with a bone fragile disorder, she grappled with an ailment that made her bones unusually weak. The journey of life was punctuated with numerous fractures – 16 to be precise. But if her bones were fragile, her spirit was anything but. Even after undergoing eight surgeries, Ummul’s determination remained unshaken.

Living in the Nizamuddin area of Delhi, Ummul’s family eked out a living from selling clothes. Fate delivered another blow when government orders led to the demolition of their slum, forcing them to relocate to Trilokpuri. With finances stretched thin, young Ummul took it upon herself to contribute. As early as 7th grade, she began giving tuition, using her earnings not just to support her family but to fund her own education.

Her academic journey wasn’t devoid of challenges. A tragic twist saw her lose her mother during her 9th grade, after which her father remarried. Unfortunately, her stepmother did not support Ummul’s educational ambitions. Faced with opposition at home, Ummul made the heart-wrenching decision to leave her family and continue her studies independently.

Her dedication bore fruit. Scoring 91% in her 10th and 90% in her 12th, she pursued her undergraduate studies in Psychology from Gargi College, Delhi University. Ummul then moved to JNU for her MA and MPhil from the School of International Studies. Recognizing her potential, she was selected for Japan’s International Leadership Training Programme in 2014, becoming only the fourth Indian to achieve this feat. Her financial situation finally saw an upswing when she passed the JRF.

But her dreams soared higher. While juggling her JRF responsibilities, Ummul started preparing for the UPSC examination. Her grit and perseverance paid off when she secured the 420th rank in her very first attempt in the CSE 2016 exam.

IAS Ummul Kher
IAS Ummul Kher

Ummul Kher’s life is a testament to the indomitable spirit of human will. Overcoming personal and professional hurdles, she not only realized her dreams but also became an emblem of hope and determination for countless others.