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Shahla Nigar second in public service exams
By Syed Mohammad Iqbal

Shahla NigarPatna: Young Shahla Nigar has done the state of Bihar and Indian Muslims proud. The bespectacled Nigar, with roll number 001579, has stood second in India in the most prestigious Civil Services Examination-2000, conducted by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). The UPSC opens the doors to the top bureaucratic posts including civil administration, foreign service and police in the country. The first position has also been bagged by a girl, Vijay Lakshmi Bidari of Bangalore. Earlier, it was Aamir Subhani of Bihar who topped in the civil exams a few years ago and now serves his home state of Bihar as an IAS officer. Soft-spoken Shahla's optional subjects in the civil examination were political science and sociology.

A confident 26-year-old Shahla has become overnight the role model for all civil service aspirants. Having made the dreams of her mother and the late engineer father come true, it is now her wish to work for the welfare of Bihar, particularly for the women of the state. Her first objective, she says, would be to work for the empowerment of women and the marginalized in general, using education as her preferred tool.

Shahla studied at Arrah and Muzaffarpur districts and finally at Indira Gandhi Girls's High School, Hazaribagh (now in the newly-created Jharkhand State), from where she passed matriculation in which she stood first among girls. She continued with her brilliant academic career at the Patna Women's College from where she did her Intermediate in Arts before moving to Miranda House, Delhi University for a graduate course.

Shahla topped in Delhi too. She continued with her studies at Hindu College of the Delhi University from where she completed her MA in political science. Later, she completed her MPhil, also from the Delhi University and enrolled for a PhD on ‘Liberalism and Communitarianism’, which includes a study of the American political theorist John Rawls. However, even before she could conclude her doctorate, Shahla was selected for an officer's job in the NABARD, country’s premier agriculture bank. ‘I really had to burn the midnight oil after office,’ Shahla Nigar says. Besides, the hard work she had put in, she gives credit for her success to Almighty Allah and to the blessings of her late father, Abdul Moin Khan, who was an executive engineer in Bihar’s Irrigation Department, and to her mother. She has a family of three sisters.

‘Whatever be the optionals, what carries one through is hard work and perseverance’, Shahla says as an advice to those who are planning to compete in the UPSC. She feels that getting into this service should not be an end in itself but a means to an end. Even though eight years have passed since her father died, he still continues to be an inspiration to her. The other source of inspiration is her mother, who, she says, has made many sacrifices to educate her and her two sisters. Shahla is presently sharing joy and happiness with her family members and friends in Patna, the capital of Laloo's Bihar. q

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