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Inspirational story of Ummul; daughter of vendor at Nizamuddin, she battled bone disorder, lived in jhuggi and cracked UPSC exam

Where there is will there is way! After reading Ummul Kher story in the Hindustan Times once can certainly say this.

Also, it shows that hard work and perseverance pays in the long run. Despite all odds stacked against her from unsupportive parents who disowned her because she wanted to study beyond Class VIII to suffering from bone disorder due to which she received 16 fractures and eight surgeries, she succeeded in cracking the most-difficult UPSC exam 2016 getting all India rank 420.

Twenty-eight-year-old Ummul Kher now hopes to get IAS under disability quota. She came to Delhi with her family years ago when she was in Class V. She studied at charitable institution till Class VIII, but her parents refused to let her study further. Her father then worked as street vendor selling clothes near Hazrat Nizamuddin while the family lived in a nearby slum. Now, her parents are back in Rajasthan where her brother runs a small bangle shop.

Life was difficult, but what came after that was “both difficult and painful” as Kher puts it.

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“I wanted to study at Arwachin Bharti Bhawan senior secondary school as it had better infrastructure and I had got a scholarship,” she said. But the parents were against it. They said that if she studied any further they will sever ties with her. “I was abused. My intentions were questioned because I wanted to study. It was the worst time. They said you have now got more education than a girl should,” she told Hindustan Times.

She left home and took up a place in Jhuggi Jhopri (JJ) Cluster, Trilokpuri.

“I had started taking tuitions but living independently meant I had to earn more money. From few children the tuitions expanded to four batches — 3pm to 5pm, then from 5pm to 7pm, 7pm to 9pm and 9pm to 11 in the night. These were mostly children from slum areas and I got between Rs 50-100 from each student. I couldn’t have expected more as these were children of labourers, iron smith, rickshaw-pullers etc.

“Besides, for a girl to live alone in a jhuggi was sometimes traumatic. It was never safe but I had no choice,” she said.

Shehnaz Begum, who lives in Trilokpuri where Kher lived for around three years said, “She is a brave child. She lived alone but my daughter used to sleep with her because it is not safe for a girl to live alone.” In return, Kher gave her free tuitions, Begum said.

Kher scored 91 per cent in Class 12.

After finishing her graduation, Kher cleared JNU entrance exam for Master’s in International Studies.

“Despite her physical challenges she was always at a par with other students and excelled in both academics and extracurricular activities,” said Archna Upadhyay, a faculty member at JNU’s School of International Studies.

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