Navigating the challenging landscape of the UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) Civil Services Exam is no small feat, and yet Saloni Sidana, the current district collector of Mandla, Madhya Pradesh, emerged triumphant in her pursuit. Interestingly, her journey into the civil services was not a predetermined path, as Saloni originally graduated with a degree in MBBS from Delhi’s Lady Hardinge Medical College in 2012, carving out a career as a doctor.
While the opportunity to pursue further education overseas beckoned, Saloni chose to stay in India and, in an unexpected turn of events, set her sights on the UPSC CSE. Reflecting on her dual roles as a doctor and civil servant, she emphasizes the shared responsibility of working with people. “Being a doctor let me interact directly with people, which is something you can continue to do when you join the public service,” she notes, highlighting the dynamic nature of her chosen profession.
One might wonder why a successful doctor would embark on the challenging path of civil services. Saloni Sidana attributes her decision to the expansive scope of knowledge that UPSC examinations offer. She underscores that the rigorous preparation for the exams led her to delve into subjects like geography, civics, and economics, enriching her understanding of the nation she serves. Opting for law as an optional subject instead of medicine exemplifies her pursuit of diverse knowledge.
Saloni’s dedication to her UPSC preparation bore fruit when she secured an impressive All India Rank of 74 on her first attempt. Originally assigned to the Andhra Pradesh cadre, her journey took a new turn when she married IAS officer Ashish Vashishta and subsequently joined the Madhya Pradesh cadre. The commitment to her responsibilities was evident when she reported to work merely two days after completing the legal formalities of her marriage, exemplifying her determination.
For aspiring civil service candidates, Saloni Sidana shares insights into her preparation strategy. She attributes her success to consistency, dedicating six to eight hours daily for preparation, without taking a day off. Facing a tight schedule with just five months to prepare for the preliminary exams, she isolated herself in a library, focusing intently on her studies. In the crucial month leading up to the exams, she sought the comfort of her home, ensuring a conducive environment for concentration and preparation.
Saloni Sidana’s journey stands as a testament to the transformative power of dedication, consistency, and a holistic approach to knowledge. As she continues to contribute to the welfare of society in her role as the district collector of Mandla, her story serves as an inspiration for those navigating the challenging terrain of civil services in India.