Battling dowry, this woman from Gujarat cracked UPSC
36-year-old Komal Ganatra cleared the Civil Services Examination, conducted by the Union Public Service Commission, in 2012. At first, this might not sound unusual but wait till you hear that she did this without Internet, newspapers or smartphone. Moreover, she was fighting the ghosts of her past and the struggles of her present too. Here is the inspirational story of a small town woman.
Komal's father introduced her to UPSC when she was 4
It was Komal's father who taught her to prioritize education and gave her complete freedom to take her decisions. This encouraged her to think independently and form opinions. When she was just 4-year-old, her father introduced her to UPSC, and she eventually started preparing. This was a big move, especially in the 1980s, and Komal hailed from a small town of Savarkundla, Gujarat.
In-laws asked Komal to leave when refused to give dowry
However, her life changed when her family fixed her marriage in 2008 to an NRI from New Zealand. She had to give up on all her aspirations at the age of 26. Life took a sharp turn when the 'supposedly' well-educated family she married into, asked her to leave after she refused to bow down to the regressive practice of dowry.
She decided to take charge of her life and fight
Komal and her family were devastated when her husband left for New Zealand within 15 days of marriage never to return. Although Komal was convinced that this was an end to her life, her education and upbringing did not let her give up. She decided to take charge of her life with strength and started a fight against the injustice done to her.
Revenge was not the plan, but deserved justice, she emphasizes
Komal told The Better India, "Taking revenge was never my plan, but I deserved justice. So, I acted to set the right example for people who think they can get away with wrongdoings, and also for those who believe that justice is not for everyone."
Komal moved to a small village away from social judgments
"At one point, I realized that chasing a man who left me would only disturb my mental peace. I channelized all my emotions and feelings to clear the UPSC," said Komal. But in a country like India, taking this step required a lot of changes and courage. In order to get away from the societal comments, she moved to a small village in Bhavnagar.
Job as a teacher was not enough for her
Meanwhile, Komal started a job as a government teacher with a salary of just Rs. 5,000. Her educational background helped her secure livelihood but that was not enough as she wanted to trigger a change in the society. When she started her preparations for UPSC, she had minimal means, as the village she was in had no access to Internet, English newspapers or laptop/smartphone.
Cleared UPSC in 2012 with AIR 591 in third attempt
Amid all the struggles, her strength stood the test of numerous other factors like taunts from relatives, travel time to the classes and late night studies. Further, going to Mumbai for the examination was also overwhelming for her as she had never stepped outside her state. Finally, in 2012, she cleared the civil services examination with AIR 591 in her third attempt.
Komal is currently posted in the Ministry of Defense, Delhi
Today, Komal has everything she ever hoped for; she gives credit to her past struggles. She is posted as an Administrative Officer in the Ministry of Defense in Delhi and has a 2.5-year-old daughter, Takshvi, from her second marriage. "If it weren't for my struggles, I would never have become so strong. My past taught me the virtues of independence and self-sufficiency," she said.
A woman should never depend on anyone, says Komal
In her conversation with TBI she said, "Even now life for women is not a cake-walk. To them, I would say that financial independence and education are significant. A woman should never depend on anyone; instead, be a strong pillar for her loved ones."