2736 12-Jan-2018, Fri
Poonam Dalal says she is slightly different from many others yet at the same time very similar to a lot of us. She has her ancestral roots at Chhara village in Jhajjar District, Haryana. But she was born and brought up in Delhi.
Poonam started her career as a primary teacher in a government school at Delhi. Along with the job she did her graduation as an external student from Delhi University.
After completing her graduation she appeared for different Bank PO Exams and SSC Graduate Level Exam and cleared all of them. SBI PO, SBI Associates PO, Union Bank Of India PO, SSC Graduate Level 2005 etc are some of them.
She finally chose SBI PO. She regrets that there was nobody to guide me about UPSC Exam. (Had there been somebody at that time to guide her about UPSC Exam, you would have been reading this interview much earlier!)
She also shares the fact that at that stage she used to be very under-confident about her chances at CS Examination. She says, “I am sharing these thoughts so that all of those who are somehow feeling the same as I had once been, can come out of it and not repeat the mistake which I did”.
After 3 years in SBI, she joined the Income Tax Department securing a very decent rank (7) at all India level in SSC graduate level Examination 2006 which gave her the confidence of writing UPSC. This is also a time she realised that being a General Category candidate her attempts were going to be wasted anyhow because of her age (Poonam was around 28 by then, and 30 was then the upper age limit for General Category candidates.)
She gave her first attempt at UPSC CSE in 2009 at the age of 28 and got Railways (RPF).
She didn’t join that service and sat for CSE 2010. She again got Railways, but a different service (IRPS).
Meanwhile, she had cleared Haryana PSC and joined as Dy.SP in Haryana Police in 2011.
In 2011, she couldn’t qualify Prelims. She thought her tryst with UPSC was over due to the age-limit. (As hinted before it was only 30 years for general category candidates then, and even now it’s only 32 years).
‘Fortune favors the brave’ – many say. Life has kept more surprises for her. In 2015, because of agitations and petitions from candidates who were affected by pattern change in 2011, the government gave an extra attempt to all those who wrote for Civil Services Exam in 2011. Thus, Poonam got an opportunity to appear again for UPSC.
9 months pregnant at the time of Prelims; had to take care a 3 months old baby while writing mains!
This attempt came as a great challenge as Poonam was out of touch with preparation, being working 24*7 in police force. Much more than that she was 9 months pregnant at the time of prelims. She cleared UPSC prelims in flying colors by self-study. While preparing for mains she had also to take care of her son who was just 3 months old. It was never easy. But as Poonam puts it, she got her best rank in her most challenging circumstances