Young, suave, articulate and efficient are the words that best describe the Joint Collector of Hyderabad, Smita Sabharwal. A 2001-cadre IAS officer, she not only cleared the UPSC exams at a very young age, but also topped it. Having entered one of the most respected services of the country, Sabharwal confides that it was because of her father’s initiation and encouragement that she is here.
“I had done my BCom degree from St Francis College in Hyderabad. It was my father, who first put forward the idea that I should attempt the UPSC exam. Immediately after my graduation, I prepared for the exams for the next one year and cleared it,” she says.
Sabharwal was only 22, when she was declared the all India 4th rank in the UPSC exams. Surprisingly, the first news of her results did not reach her ears through her family or friends. “On the result day, I was waiting for a call from my training institute to inform me of my result. It was not until 3pm that I got a call from the All India Radio office who congratulated me for securing 4th rank. I thought it was a crank call and did not pay much heed to it. But finally when the same was confirmed by my institute, it was just unbelievable as I felt I had performed badly in the last round,” adds an ecstatic Sabharwal.
Though a commerce graduate, Sabharwal chose anthropology and public administration as her optional subjects for the UPSC. She credits her coaching centre, Brain-tree in Hyderabad for imparting good training in the subjects.
Her most cherished and unforgettable moment from her college life has to be on the day of the Class 12 results. “I had taken the commerce stream with accounts and economics as subjects. I was actually angry with my parents for pushing me into this stream. But it was a surprise when I bagged the first rank in the all India ICSE Class 12 exams.”
“Since college days, I have been frequenting Paradise restaurant in Secunderabad. The taste of the biryani and kebabs has not changed a bit till today,” she says.
Originally from Darjeeling in West Bengal, Sabharwal is used to traveling wide from a very young age, thanks to her father, who is from the defence services. Having seen many cultures and places, she feels it has made her more accommodating and helped her understand people better.
“Had I been assigned to some far off state other than the Andhra Pradesh, it would not have made much difference to me. Even after my two-years training in Mussoorie, I was sent for a friendly orientation to Adilabad district, which is one of the backward areas of Andhra Pradesh,” she informs.
“Everyone wants to do something for the society and I feel today’s youngsters should give civils a shot as
they can do a lot through this service,” she observes.
“I used to study only for six hours a day and play for at least an hour. It is wrong to think that one can get through the civils only by studying very hard. In the final round, your interests and hobbies are also taken into account for selections.”
Her bond with the civil services does not end with her profession. Sabharwal is married to an IPS officer, and her batchmate, Akun Sabharwal who is now the Deputy Commissioner of Police for Central Zone in Hyderabad n