29-year-old IPS officer Shalini Agnihotri’s story is enough to inspire anyone to chase their dream. A stranger's comment on a bus jolted the woman to achieve something big in life. A man when refused to remove his hands on the headrest of the seat where Shalini and her mother were seated on the bus, in return asked her mother if she were the DC. Only then, Shalini decided to become one.
The proud Indian girl while speaking to the daily speaks about her journey, her aspirations, life at the academy and how she made her dreams come true.
Shalini took birth on January 14, 1989, in Thathal village of Una district, Himachal Pradesh to parents Ramesh and Shubhlata Agnihotri. Her father was a bus conductor and her mother was a homemaker. She remained a brilliant student in her academic life. She studied at the DAV School, Dharamshala. Then, took admission in Himachal Pradesh Agriculture University, Palampur to acquire a degree in Agriculture.
The IPS office while talking about her parents says, “They came from backgrounds of very little formal education but were keen that the three of us had a good education. No one on either side of my family or even relatives was in the services, and hence, there were times when my dreams seemed very far-fetched."
She considers them her pillars of strength, “Without having to think, I can say that my parents have been my biggest strength. They made me believe that a good education has the potential to change everything. In 2004, I had scored 92.2% in my class ten examinations, and that was a big deal back then. However, in my class 12 examinations, I only scored 77% and was devastated by the results. My parents, on the other hand, stood firm in their belief that I would do well in life. That trust they placed in me meant the world to me."
The IPS officer further said, “It was because of the way they treated me after my bad results that I was able to do so well in college. I went on to top not only the college but also the university. While I was content pursuing a basic degree after the bad results in class 12, my parents insisted that I enrol for a professional degree.”
Shalini about her middle-class upbringing says, “If I had to describe my upbringing, then I have to say it was a middle-class household. We never owned a vehicle, the house that we owned was half done, and even that was mortgaged to fund my sister’s education; my mother stitched clothes at home to make some extra money, and we never bought anything extravagant, ever.”
“In all my growing up years, I never saw my parents indulge in anything that they might have wanted for themselves.”
“These are truly the sacrifices which I wanted to do something meaningful for,” she adds.
“What I learnt from my parents was the importance of integrity and honesty,” she further says.
Her decision to go for UPSC exam:
When Shalini was preparing for the UPSC examination, her family was unknown to the fact. The girl did not disclose this to anyone, “I am thankful to free Internet. I would spend hours online, reading, researching, and just trying to understand how the exam works. Like most aspirants, I would also devour all the newspapers, magazines, and other online sources of information."
Talking about entering the training academy at Mussorie, she says, “We both stood there completely mesmerised by the grandeur of the building before us. There was a different aura to the place.”
“I would be right in saying that similar emotions were running through both our minds: anxiety, happiness, nervousness, about what was in the store and just excited to finally be there," she added.
Shalini awarded with the best all-rounder trainee of the 65th batch of IPS. She honoured with the Prime Minister’s Baton and the Home Ministry’s Revolver for being the best trainee. She also received best all-rounder female officer trainee trophy, the best female officer trainee in outdoor subjects, a trophy for investigation, and one for the best essay writing on ‘communal harmony and national integration’.
At the end of the conversation, she says, “All dreams are achievable, no matter where you come from and what your background is. Just find out what you want to be and work to make it possible.”