Amidst uninterrupted applause, Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) topper Tina Dabi returned to her alma mater, the Lady Shri Ram (LSR) College on Thursday for the first time since she topped the exam to interact with students. Addressing a packed auditorium, Dabi said her aim as an IAS officer was to set a “good example” of integrity for her subordinates, and work for women and students.
“One thing I want to do is set a very good example for subordinates and other people in general. If you set yourself as someone who has a lot of integrity and empathy, you create an impact in the sense that you force others to emulate you. Being a woman myself, I would like to work on women-related issues and a student I’d like to focus on the education sector,” she said, when asked about what she’d like to achieve.
She added that she would visit “all schools and colleges in my own district to keep on motivating the girls to fight whatever discrimination they are facing and inspiring them to achieve what they want”.
Dabi was a graduate of the 2014 batch of Political Science (Hons). Talking to the press after the interaction, Dabi said her dream of working for women’s issues would continue despite being given the Rajasthan cadre, and not Haryana, as was her first choice.
“I think Rajasthan has its own women related issues. If we talk about the child sex ratio in Rajasthan, it’s not as much as we’d like it to be. But we have a very strong system of women holding key positions in the panchayats over there. It’s a very promising thing and it’s something that even I would want to encourage in whichever district I’m posted in. I also want to make sure state government and union government’s schemes are implemented properly and monitor the targets,” she told the Indian Express.
Speaking about the activities of the cow-protecion groups in Gujarat and the subsequent protests by Dalit groups, Dabi said, “It’s very unfortunate that these things are happening but I believe that you have to work with the system and always have faith in the system. It’s the only solution. We are the world’s largest democracy and we have a very robust system of justice, so we have to always keep that in mind.”
Heaping praises on the college in her speech, Dabi said that LSR made her into who she was and taught her “progressive values”.
“LSR teaches you to have a very compassionate heart and turns you into a leader. So cease the moment and cease the opportunity and become what you want to be in life. Becoming the best in what you want to be is the most important thing,” she said.
“Always remember your social responsibility – we’re not just about ourselves, but about the larger society. We are women but it is a man’s world, so to fight it you need to develop a very thick skin. Take criticism constructively but if someone is trying to overpower you, always fight back and regain your position,” she added. Dabi also told students to see failures as “stepping stones” and not be bogged down by them.
She was felicitated by college principal Suman Sharma who said, “Your success is a symbol of affirmative action of the society and the state, but more positive affirmative action on the part of your parents and the entire family. What is needed is a Tina Dabi from each and every school and college to usher in the change that we aspire.”
“Whether it’s Rajasthan or Haryana, it’s one of the worst in terms of male-female child sex ratio in the country. The bulk of the society is dictated by the brutal khap panchayat which would even support honour killing in the name of caste. It requires courageous and educated youngsters like Tina to transform khap panchayats from their medieval world view to agents of social change,” Sharma added.
In honour of Dabi’s welcome, a range of cultural performances were organised including Indian classical dance and music, as well as western classical music.
Dabi was recently allotted the Rajasthan cadre, along with Athar Amir ul Shafi Khan and Jasmeet Singh Sandhu, who ranked second and third in the civil services exam, respectively. She will undergo training at The Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA), Mussoorie, before joining her allotted cadre.