Ira Singhal – The First Physically Challenged Woman to Top IAS

DISABILITY IS NOT A BIG ISSUE

Ira Singhal is a 2015 batch, AGMUT cadre Indian Administrative Service officer. She was the highest scoring individual in the UPSC’s Civil Services Examination for the year 2014. Singhal topped the exam in her fourth attempt, to become the first physically challenged woman to top the civil services exam in the general category.

She was among the toppers at Sophia Girls School, Meerut, and Loreto Convent School, Delhi. Ira suffers from scoliosis, a spine-related disorder, which disrupts her arm movement. She completed her schooling from the Army Public School, Dhaula Kuan and studied Computer Engineering at Netaji Subhas Institute of Technology and received Dual MBA in Marketing & Finance from Faculty of Management Studies, Delhi.

What all it takes to make it to the prestigious position?

The first obstacle: Physical disability 

The journey for Ira started off as a challenge when despite clearing the toughest exam in her very first attempt, she was not allowed to take the position in office citing her physical disability as a criterion for ineligibility. However, that did not let her down. Ira filed a petition in the court, that later went on in her favor.

In the period before the final hearing from the court, Ira had not given up yet. Just when she was about to appear for her second attempt for the United Public Service Commission (UPSC), she received her letter for the first appointment but still went ahead with her second attempt and was back with a bang bagging Rank 1 (Indian Administrative Service).

“Having a disability was never an excuse in my family.”

While talking about physical disability coming in the way, Ira says, “It so happened that whenever I walked by a group of people I was stared at and when I noticed, I smiled back at them in response. Why do you have to get offended if people stare at you? You look at people too, right? Isn’t it normal? I never pitied myself for my condition. Doing that only diminishes the level of confidence.”

“Having a disability was never an excuse in my family. I had to set targets just like anybody else would. I’ve learned that more than anybody else, it is necessary for you to believe in yourself. Thence, there is no stopping you.” says officer Singhal.

On being “brutally honest”: 

Ira also laid emphasis on how she is brutally honest with herself which must be the first requisite in the steps towards one’s goals and ambitions. “Jealousy is alright. I know I get jealous and I acknowledge it, and more importantly, I forgive myself for it. To envy is human nature. Why beat yourself over it? “, says a jovial yet firm Ira.

“Make space for yourself. Stop judging others and judge yourself.” says the resilient Ira.

Some of her statements that showcase her in all her brilliance:

When she made this statement to the IAS paper –

“I want to be an IAS officer. I want to do something for the benefit of physically challenged people”

When Hindustan Times caught her in a moment of humor –

“I still haven’t checked the rank myself. Hope my friends and you guys saw it properly and confirmed it’s in fact me”

and also when her friend confessed that she plays pranks like a boss (we may just be in love with her).

“She plans the pranks, we execute them together.”

– Maudev Jain, fellow IRS Officer

When The Indian Express managed to bring out the badass in her while talking about her denial of post after clearing the UPSC in 2010  –

“It was a big disappointment, a major setback then. But I decided to fight back. It was tough initially as I had to undergo tests, submit medical certificates and prove that I am capable of doing jobs entrusted to me in the IRS. For two years, it was tough but then everyone realised that I am capable of working in spite of the disabilities. They realised I am no pushover”

IRA SINGHAL IS A PERFECT EXAMPLE PROVING THAT:

“DISABILITY DOESN’T MEANS INABILITY”

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