Meet Ovessa Iqbal – First Woman IFS Officer from Kashmir

Ovessa Iqbal became the first Muslim woman from Jammu & Kashmir to clear the UPSC civil services when she secured an all India rank of 572 in the 2010 CSE. She got selected into the Indian Foreign Service and is currently working in the Indian embassy at Lebanon.

Ovessa’s story is an inspiration for many youngsters from remote corners of the country who want to join the civil services and make a positive impact on the life of the nation.


Ovessa hails from Chachoot village of Leh in Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir. Her father is a farmer. She had lost her lecturer mother in an accident a few years back. She has an elder sister Sameena.


Education and Professional Life

Ovessa completed her schooling from Moravian Mission School, Leh. She then pursued her bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Punjab University, Chandigarh.


Optional subject

Ovessa’s optional subjects were Geography and Sociology.


Attempts made in UPSC IAS Exam

Ovessa cleared the USPC civil services in her third attempt. She gave her first attempt in 2008 when she failed to clear the prelims. In her second attempt, she could not qualify for the personality test. She had also qualified in the Kashmir Administrative Service examination held in 2009.


What/who inspired her?

It was during her college days that Ovessa started dreaming about the civil services. Hailing from a remote part of the country which is cut off from the rest of the world for half the year owing to terrible winter conditions, Ovessa had wanted to work for the people and make a change in her own life and the people around her.

Ovessa was ably guided by her sister Sameena who she gratefully acknowledges as her ‘Guru’ in the UPSC exam. She also credits her entire family for their unstinting support in her endeavour.


Message for aspirants by Ovessa Iqbal

Ovessa says that knowledge is understanding, and not mere facts and databases. She urges candidates to have faith in their own strength and talent and try hard. She also sends a message to Kashmiri youth to join the Indian civil services and be involved in changing the country through the civil services. According to her, cracking the civil services exam is not difficult and one only needs determination and consistency to do so.


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