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Haryana girl and Apeejay alumna cracks Civil Services in first attempt; says ‘Internet was the only source to study’

Muskan Dagar of Apeejay School, Charkhi Dadri aced the papers with self-study. She advises girl students to dream big and push through in the face of hardship

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As the final results of UPSC Civil Services 2021 examinations have been declared recently, the top three spots were bagged by girls. Muskan Dagar too cracked the papers securing an impressive All India Rank, and made it in her very first attempt. Dagar comes from a family of farmers in Sehlanga village of Jhajjar district, Haryana. In an interview, she talks about the struggles and inspiration throughout her educational journey. Read On: 

Please tell us about yourself.  

I completed my undergraduate degree in BSc Physical Science from Hindu College, University of Delhi in 2020. My schooling was at Apeejay School, Charkhi Dadri in Haryana. I have been an academically strong person since school, securing a 10 point CPA in class 10 and 94.4 percentage in class 12. 

What are your interests and hobbies?

I read a lot of fiction books and novels. Alongside, I love to cook. I have nurtured these with my academic consistency.

How were the college years in Delhi? Did you face any major challenges?

Not really! I do have humble bearings, my father being a farmer and mother, a homemaker. But, my family has provided me with all kinds of exposure. Apart from that, my schooling at Apeejay School, Charkhi Dadri really helped me gear up for the real world. The school environment was very congenial and fostering and that helped me in developing my abilities. I feel very fortunate to have received all these opportunities.

Any anecdotes you would like to share from school?

I spent all my years at Apeejay School, Charkhi Dadri and this long  association has been very enriching. In school, I was a good debater, singer, dancer and painter. I used to participate in a number of extra-curricular activities and was a school topper as well. In class 11, I became the Head Girl and Vice-Captain. These leadership positions at school boosted my confidence, and I realised my potential at that time.

Did you enroll in coaching to prepare for Civil Services examinations?

For most of the examinations, I prepared by myself. I referred to some study material and took a few coaching classes for the optional subject such as History. This is because I had no background in it and did not have the subject in class 12.

Haryana as a state has become a frontrunner in promoting women talents. Your comment?

I have lived most of my life here in this village. It is located in a not so prosperous place of the state. I have observed aspects of patriarchy here but that is now changing. Due to government schemes that have been put in place, women have benefited a lot. The perception of women too is changing. Women role models from Haryana in the media are inspiring others. Seeing them, many parents feel motivated to push their girl child in sports, academics and extracurriculars.

Do you think women in Jhajjar are provided with good education and opportunities?

Yes, I feel so. The main city is far from where I live. But, in my village, most of the girls are going to school. We have seen very accomplished women doctors coming from here, and over the past few years, things have changed tremendously and positively for women.

Any perceptions/myths you faced about women in Haryana?

Yes, firstly I feel that people think women from Haryana are outspoken and that it is often confused with being rude. That’s not the case. In fact, it is a sexist approach. I feel that we know our minds and are able to communicate well. Also, women from the state are considered to have a very strong physical and mental build. That could be true in some cases, not all. However, I can say that we are strong-willed and are up to taking challenges head-on.

What would be your advice for girl students wanting to be in your shoes?

I would say, never give up. Push through hard because deep down you know, you can achieve anything! Don’t rely on external support and believe in yourself. Do take help from mentors, peers and parents as well as seek guidance wherever necessary. While I was preparing for the Civil Services examinations, my only source to study was the internet. My accessibility to course material was limited because most hubs are located in Delhi. Despite all odds, I tried to give my best and didn’t lose hope.

Your role model?

My grandfather. He retired as a Bank Manager some years ago. A very strong-willed man, he has helped me throughout my educational journey. He is kind, understanding as well as thoughtful, and I aspire to be like him.

Mrini Devnani is a Senior Correspondent and Marketing Coordinator at Newsroom. She covers student achievements, interviews and contributions for the website. She was a former Correspondent covering Edutech for the India Today Group, and has passion for Social Media and Digital Marketing. You can reach her at [email protected]

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