Ummul Kher’s inspiring story is for those who want to turn their dreams into reality without letting their life circumstances shatter them. With a fragile bone disorder and abandoned by parents at the young age of 14, Ummul fought against the odds to become an IAS officer.
Inspiring Story Of Ummul Kher
With 16 fractures and eight surgeries, Ummul Kher was around 5 years old when she came to Delhi from Rajasthan. While the family lived in a slum, her father worked as a street vendor to sell clothes near Hazrat Nizamuddin.
Ummul studied in Pt Deendayal Upadhyaya Institute for The Physically Handicapped till Class 5. She later went to Amar Jyoti Charitable Trust where she studied till Class 8. While sharing her story withHT, she said:
“It was a charitable organisation run by the government and I didn’t have to pay anything. Though getting one square meal was difficult, I was satisfied that I could at least study,” .
Her life was already tough. But, what came next was not only difficult but also painful. Ummul shared withThe Indian Express:
“Ours is a conservative family. They believe that studying till Class VII is more than enough education. Girls don’t need to study more, and if they go out, woh bigad jayengi. All these misogynistic opinions prevalent in our society were also present in my family’s outlook. They said I should learn some tailoring work. When I insisted, they said they would send me back to Rajasthan. That was the reason I had to prove that I will continue my studies,”
But not letting society dictate her life, Ummul left home. She took up a place in Jhuggi Jhopri (JJ) Cluster, Trilokpuri. And to pay the rent, she started earning money from tuition. Ummul felt this decision was way more difficult than cracking the civil services exam. Sharing the details of the toughest phase of her life, she further added:
“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.”
One of the residents, who lives in Trilokpuri where Ummul 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”
Amar Jyoti Charitable Trust helped her as and when required and also financed her tuition for Class 9 and 10. When Ummul scored 91% in Class 12, she got admission to Gargi College. Even then she funded her education through tuitions. One of Ummul’s friend from the college, Abhishek Ranjan, shared insights about her difficult college days,
“She funded her education through the money she won at debates in DU colleges. You can earn decent money as the prize amount is high in some of the college festivals. But here too, she could not participate in debates that were organised in evening as she had to take tuitions,”
But, 2012 changed her life forever.
After a small accident, she was restricted to a wheelchair for a year due to her bone disorder. After graduation, Ummul cleared the JNU entrance exam for a master’s in International Studies. Thanks to the merit scholarship, she started getting Rs 2,000 and hence stopped giving tuition.
In 2013, she cracked the Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) under which she started getting Rs 25,000 per month. Post which she cracked the civil services exam in her first attempt in 2017. As per her Facebook profile, she has joined the IRS department.