Charismatic Dr Ruveda salaam- the inspiration for many!
By: Rayees Masroor
Hailing from a small border village of Farkin in one of the extreme corners of district Kupwara, the iconic Dr Ruveda Salam became the very first woman IPS officer from the state of Jammu and Kashmir in 2015.
Before Ruveda cleared the UPSC (for the first time), she got into medical college, but even while studying medicine she used to read a lot. Ruveda found time to clear the Kashmir State Administrative Service exam (KAS). Instead of doing a post graduation in medicine, Ruveda started preparing for the UPSC.
As a young ACP, Ruveda has given motivational speeches to the youth, particularly girls encouraging them to find out their calling and also to appear for various competitive exams including IPS. Dr Ruveda even continued her studies and it was in her second attempt in UPSC that she succeeded in her cherished dream to Qualify IAS.
Face to face
In an exclusive interview with freelance writer and columnist RAYEES Masroor, Dr Ruveda discusses her dreams and journey. Excerpts:
To begin with, it would be interesting to know about your early schooling and education?
Dr. Ruveda: Till 9th standard, I studied in Kupwara and due to my father’s posting in Srinagar, I had to move and completed my 10th and + 2 from Srinagar. Later, I did my M.B.B. S from Government Medical College Srinagar in the year 2011.
Since you come from one of the extreme corners of the valley, how difficult was it to focus on your education?
Dr. Ruveda: The disturbed situation in the valley had negative impact on my studies. The fact of the matter is that I was interested in sports from my early childhood but sports for girls was a distant dream in such a situation. My medical degree also took an additional one year to complete because of frequent strikes in the valley.
How difficult is it for a girl to chase her dreams in a conservative society?
Dr. Ruveda: 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 and constant thoughts about the perceptions of people in a conservative society would put hurdles in the path of your cherished and noble dreams.
Since you had Qualified MBBS and you gave up your medical stream and preferred civil services ,why?
Dr. Ruveda: I often face this question but I continue to treat people free of cost at my place of posting. Ever since I left Medical as a profession, I continue to hold medical camps where medical advice and treatment was given to people. My colleagues from medical background have been helping me in this noble cause.
You Qualified IPS and became the first female IPS officer from J&K. It must have been very special?
Dr. Ruveda: 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, Tamil Nadu. It gives me immense pride and I continue to inspire women across J&K.
Was it a sudden change of mind to give up the IPS cadre or you had that curiosity to go for IAS?
Dr. Ruveda: I wanted to serve in my state and that made me to appear in the exams again. Every service has its pros and cons and it is the ideal of service to the nation that matters.
Do you reckon police service is not suitable for females especially in Kashmir given the societal norms or taboo associated with it?
Dr. Ruveda: 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.
Now you are in IRS cadre (Indian Revenue service), what made you to make such a preference?
Dr. Ruveda: IRS has given me an opportunity to serve in the state of J&K and that is precisely the idea which prompted me to join IRS.
You qualified MBBS, state civil services and UPSC twice, are you satisfied with what you have achieved or still ambitious?
Dr. Ruveda: For me excellence is not a destination but a continuous journey that never ends. Satisfaction in life simply ends the intellectual and spiritual journey. My idea of founding the ‘Kupwara Badminton Association’ is just another ambition to help the youth of Kupwara in excelling in the field of sports.
Tell us something about your hobbies especially childhood hobbies?
Dr. Ruveda: I was into day dreaming and reading folk tales. Later on I developed interest in poetry and writing.
You are an iconic figure not only in the state but across the country, what is the inspiration behind your success?
Dr. Ruveda: My own struggle as a woman has been my sole inspiration that always reminded me that nothing is impossible to achieve in life.
What are the three things that you feel are instrumental in shaping your career?
Dr. Ruveda: Humility, patience and perseverance.
Recently you launched the ‘Kupwara badminton Association’, Do you have any vision or targets when it comes to popularizing such sports activities?
Dr. Ruveda: I, along with Hilal Ahmed Mir, KAS, Dr Manzoor Mir, Zahid Mughal and others have founded the Kupwara Badminton Association to provide a platform to girls and boys so that they showcase their talent in this game and our targets are to enable them to play at state and national levels. 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.
Do you yourself follow, love or play any game?
Dr. Ruveda: I realized my talent in sports during my IPS training by winning many medals in field and track events including marathon. I was also part of Handball, Hockey and Football teams as the only girl participant. I play Lawn Tennis regularly and I am very fond of this game as it requires lot of stamina and swift movements.
How is it possible to boost the education, economic development and overall life standards of people living in far flung areas?
Dr. Ruveda: We have to take initiatives. But mostly it is the lack of awareness among the people of far flung areas which prevents them from taking advantage of the schemes in the public domain. For instance, most of the people are ignorant about the sports related schemes of J&K Government.
Are there any chances that some other girls from our state can Qualify IAS or IPS?
Dr. Ruveda: Definitely. I am personally guiding and teaching many girls from J&K free of cost and I would request more of them to approach me.
How do you think a youth icon like you or a civil servant can contribute towards the society?
Dr. Ruveda: I am a social activist and a career counsellor. Ever since I qualified civil services, I have conducted more than 60 seminars across India and especially in J&K to motivate youth towards civil services. Kupwara Badminton Association is another such endeavour to contribute towards the society.
It must be difficult for you to attend the social gatherings or events because of a huge rush for selfies or autographs?
Dr. Ruveda: We have to make sacrifices every now and then but it is worth it.
What is your message for the aspiring civil servants?
Dr. Ruveda: Just believe in yourself and have faith in almighty. Nothing is impossible. All that is required is patience and hard work.
The interviewer is Academic counselor at IGNOU and can be reached at [email protected].