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IAS Topper Seema Pujani chose the Foreign Service over a German Law School

Seema Pujani secured a commendable all-India rank of 37 in the 2014 UPSC civil services exam.

She chose the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) over the IAS and is now a career diplomat. Pujani ditched an opportunity to study at the Bucerius Law School, Germany to pursue her civil services dream.

Read on about how IAS topper Seema Pujani cracked the UPSC.

Seema Pujani IFS

IAS Topper Story [Seema Pujani Background]

  • A native of Faridabad, Pujani is the youngest daughter of Mr Amar Nath Pujani, a retired SDM of Faridabad.
  • Although she participated in extra-curricular activities in school, academics was a top priority in her family.
  • Her two elder sisters are doctors.
  • Pujani had taken the science stream in class XII in order to pursue engineering. But she soon acknowledged that her interests lay elsewhere in the field of social sciences and languages.
  • Therefore, post XII standard, she took the law entrance exam. Pujani secured admission into one of the top law colleges of India, the National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bangalore.

How Seema Pujani’s education helped her in IFS

According to Pujani, the rigorous training received and the multicultural environment at NLSIU sharpened her sensibilities and increased her strength and endurance. The event management activities, book discussions and the vibrant interactions at the institute might have moulded her for her future role as India’s diplomat. She also credits her stint at the institute for her acquiring skills like critical thinking and analysis. She says, “If you survived law school, you will survive anywhere.”

Why Civil Services

  • As a child, Pujani wanted to become a veterinary doctor.
  • Even when she was studying to become a lawyer, she did not have the civil services exam on her mind. Instead, she was interested in social reform, international and humanitarian organisations.
  • The civil services bug bit her in 2009 when two seniors, Mr Srikar Sridhar IAS and Ms Aparna Ray IFS visited their campus. You can check out the list of top IFS officers in India and get some motivation to crack the UPSC.
  • Then it struck Pujani that the life and job of a diplomat were matchless. She also saw it as an honour to serve the country in the capacity of an IFS officer.

The following table gives a few important links to all about the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) such as job profile, salary and hierarchy, etc.

Journey towards the UPSC

Seema Pujani cracked the UPSC in her second attempt. She had taken law as her optional subject since it was also the subject of her graduation.

While some candidates prefer to take their optional subject based on their prior education, others take a complete route and opt for another subject.

The decision is solely based on the candidate. It is important to know how to select an optional for the IAS mains.

The law optional is a good choice of graduates of this subject.

For more on the law optional including strategy, preparation tips, book list, success rate, etc. check our detailed article on the Law Optional at the linked article.

First Attempt

  • In Pujani’s maiden attempt at the CSE, she secured a rank of 599.
  • She was allotted the Indian Trade Service and started training at the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, New Delhi.
  • Opting for the civil services was a tough decision because Pujani had secured admission for post-graduation at the Bucerius Law School in Germany.

Second attempt

  • Pujani’s second attempt saw her better her rank.
  • Both times, she had given her preference order as IFS over IAS.
  • Her brilliant rank of 37 ensured that she got her desired post.

IAS Topper Marks

Paper Marks
Essay 139
GS I 89
GS II 102
GS III 86
GS IV 107
Optional I 133
Optional II 121
Total (written) 777
Interview 201
Final Total 978/2025 [48.3%]

Seema Pujani facts

  1. Rank: 37
  2. CSE: 2014
  3. Attempt: Second
  4. Optional: Law
  5. Education: Law Graduate

If you wish to read more civil services success stories, check out our Get Inspired segment.

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