Durga Sakthi Nagpal

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From obscurity to icon: The phenomenal rise of Durga

Vandana Keelor & Surojit Gupta | TNN

The Times of India 2013/08/08

Durga Sakthi Nagpal’s colleagues call her “upright and fearless”. Her batch mates describe her as “bright” and “dependable”.

Born on June 25, 1985, in Agra to a now-retired defence services officer, her father-in-law is a former IPS and husband Abhishekh Singh, a UP cadre IAS of the 2011 batch.

TOI spoke to those who’ve known her. They said she was always feisty, upright and principled. Accused by the Akhilesh Yadav government of “lacking foresight and one with poor administrative acumen”, mates from the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration say she was driven by a strong will to serve the country.

“I met her first in 2010 at the interview, then after we were selected for the medical test,” a batch mate recalled. “We were inseparable. She’s simple, genuine and down-to-earth. She wanted to work judiciously. She was bright, mostly busy with studies.” Nagpal stood 20th out of 875 in the 2009 civil services qualifiers.

Dr Nupur Prakash, VC of the Indira Gandhi Delhi Technical University for Women, from where she graduated with a BTech in computer science spoke on similar lines. “She always raised her voice against indiscipline. Although she kept a low profile, she voiced her concerns over placements and was picked by TCS. But she opted for IAS in 2010.”

Originally from the Punjab cadre, she joined as assistant commissioner (trainee) at Mohali in June 2011. She trained as BDO and panchayat officer at Dera Bassi, Kharar and Majri and remained Mohali SDM for almost a month. During her 14-month stint as trainee officer in Mohali, she unearthed a registration scam and freed government land of encroachment. She always had fire and pluck, Moana Bhagabati, former faculty at the IAS Academy, recalled. “She had promise, fire in the belly.”

Nagpal changed her cadre to UP after marrying Abhishekh Singh. She was posted as SDM (Sadar) at Gautam Budh Nagar in September 2012 where she took on the sand mafia. Her father taught her the importance of discipline, a colleague said. “Her father is her backbone, her husband supportive,” he added. Many in the service worry about the impact of recent events on her career. Others are confident she’ll emerge stronger.

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