MBBS, KAS, IPS, IAS: Kashmir woman who did it all
‘Excellence not a destination but a continuous journey’
Hailing from a small border village of Farkin in one of the extreme corners of north Kashmir’s Kupwara district, Ruveda Salam became the very first woman IPS officer from Jammu Kashmir in 2015. Before Ruveda cleared the UPSC exams for the first time, she secured an MBBS seat in the Government Medical College, Srinagar. While studying medicine, she would spare time to prepare for the Kashmir Administrative Services and after cracking it, she started preparing for the UPSC exams. As a young ACP, Ruveda gives motivational speeches to the youth, particularly girls. In an exclusive interview to Kashmir Scan, she talks about her struggle and how she made it big to Rayees Masroor. Excerpts
Q: Tell us about your early schooling.
Till 9th standard, I studied at Kupwara and due to my father’s posting in Srinagar, I did my 10th and 10+2 from Srinagar. I did my MBBS from Government Medical College, Srinagar in 2011.
Hailing from an extreme corner of the valley, how difficult was it for you to focus on your education?
The situation in the valley had a negative impact on my studies. I was interested in sports from childhood but sports for girls was a distant dream in such a situation. My MBBS also stretched by one extra year due to frequent strikes in the Valley.
Q: How difficult is it for a girl to chase her dreams in a conservative society?I had to convince my parents and relatives about joining the Indian Police Service. I happened to be the only Muslim girl in the entire IPS Batch of 2013. Constant thoughts about the perceptions of people in a conservative society put hurdles in the path of your dreams.
Q: Why did you opt for civil services after your MBBS?I continue to treat people free of cost at my place of posting. Ever since I left medical profession, I have been holding medical camps and my colleagues from medical background have been helping me in this noble cause.
Q: How did you feel when you became the first female IPS officer of J&K?
I had never imagined that I would achieve such a feat. Allah has been very kind. I am the first woman IPS from J&K who successfully completed her tough training at National Police Academy in Hyderabad and I have served as Assistant Commissioner of Police in Chennai and Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu. It gives me immense pride and I continue to inspire women across J&K.
Q: Why then did you opt for IAS and gave up the IPS cadre?
I wanted to serve in my state and that made me appear in the exam again.
Q: Do you reckon Police service is not suitable for females especially in Kashmir given the societal norms or taboo associated with it?
We need more women in Police at each level, starting from the constabulary. Our society is equally prone to crimes against women and children, which women police can handle better.
Q: Now you are in IRS (Indian Revenue Service) cadre. What changed for you?
IRS has given me an opportunity to serve in J&K?
Q: Are you satisfied with your achievements? Do you have any more ambitions to fulfill?
Excellence is not a destination but a continuous journey that never ends. Satisfaction ends the intellectual and spiritual journey. My idea of setting up the ‘Kupwara Badminton Association’ is my another ambition to help the youth of Kupwara in excelling at sports. I along with a KAS officer Hilal Ahmed Mir, Dr. Manzoor Mir, Zahid Mughal, and others co-founded it to provide a platform to girls and boys to showcase their talent and our target is to enable them to play at state and national level. This game is played by almost everyone especially girls but Kupwara district lacks an indoor stadium. We have planned to construct one soon so that the talent of the youth is channelised in the right direction.
Q: What are your hobbies?
In childhood, I was into daydreaming and reading folk tales. Later on, I developed an interest in poetry and writing.
Q: What was your inspiration?
My struggle as a woman was my sole inspiration. It reminded me that nothing is impossible.
Q: What are the three things instrumental in shaping your career?
Humility, patience, and perseverance.
Q: Do you play any sports?
I realised my talent in sports during my IPS training by winning many medals in field and track events including a marathon. I was also part of the handball, hockey and football teams as the only girl participant. I regularly play lawn tennis and I am fond of this game as it requires a lot of stamina and swift movements.
Q: How is it possible to boost the education, economic development and overall living standards of people belonging to your community or those living in far-flung areas?
We have to take initiatives. Mostly it is lack of awareness among the people of far-flung areas which prevents them from taking advantage of the schemes in the public domain. Most of the people ARE even ignorant about the sports-related schemes of the J&K government.
Q: Can other girls from our state also qualify IAS or IPS?
Definitely, and I am personally guiding and teaching many girls from J&K free of cost and I would request more of them to approach me.
Q: How can a public servant like you contribute toward the society?
I am a social activist and a career counselor. Ever since I qualified civil services, I have conducted more than 60 seminars across India and especially in J&K to motivate youth toward civil services.
Q: How do you handle people wanting to have selfies with you?
We have to make sacrifices every now and then but it is worth it.
Q: What is your message to the aspiring civil servants?
Believe in yourself and have faith in the Almighty. Nothing is impossible. All that is required is to succeed is patience and hard work.