Every year, the civil services examition topper excites much curiosity throughout the country. It is, after all, one of the toughest examitions of its kind. The degree of difficulty of this nearly one-and-half year long, three-phase, extremely competitive examition can be gauged from the fact that only five candidates in 2014 got above 50 per cent. Topper Ira Singhal got 53.43 per cent. She has a computer science engineering as well as an MBA degree, giving up a high-flying corporate career with Cadbury India to sit for the civil services examition. Humble and totally down to earth, Ms Singhal has now become an inspiration for the disabled. She happens to be the first differently abled woman to top the civil services examition. Ms Singhal suffers from scoliosis, an abnormal curvature of the spine. In 2010 too, she had cleared the civil services examition and was allotted the Indian Revenue Service. But the authorities then prevented her from joining. Why? Because with 62 per cent locomotor disability, she could not ‘push, pull and lift’. It was only after Ms Singhal moved the Central Administrative Tribul (CAT), that she was allowed to join the Customs and Central Excise Service. This is not the first time Ms Singhal has fought against discrimition, but she has a steely will to back up her brilliance. Recently, she was in Guwahati to attend some programmes, including one for differently abled children. She spoke about finding one’s own path irrespective of what society may say, that there is no point in living with disappointments and negative feelings. Differently abled people have to face difficulties every day and struggle hard. They are forced to go the extra mile to do anything on their own, but that makes life all the sweeter. Significantly, Ms Singhal has spoken about very supportive parents, teachers and friends, who never made her feel handicapped or lacking in anything. Her experience reveals that disability may come in numerous ways — it all depends upon how a person deals with it, and how near and dear ones stand by to make the journey worthwhile.
food for thought