Delhi’s Ira Singhal on Saturday became the first differently abled woman to top the civil services examination in which women took the top four positions.
With 62 per cent locomotor disability, 30-year-old Ira had cleared the examination in 2010 too and was allotted the Indian Revenue Service but she was stopped from joining because authorities cited her “inability to push, pull and lift’’. She moved the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) which ruled in her favour and she was inducted as Assistant Commissioner in the Customs and Central Excise Service.
She is currently on probation, undergoing training at the Dr Marri Channa Reddy Human Resource Development Institute of Andhra Pradesh in Hyderabad.
“I am thrilled, excited and very, very happy. It is a dream come true,’’ Ira said. “I expected to do very well but did not expect to top it. My friend, an IAS officer here, gave me the good news first. I want to become an IAS officer and work in the field of women and child welfare, development and empowerment. I want to contribute to the uplift of the differently abled, and make their lives easier. Differently abled people struggle, face difficulties everyday and have to go the extra mile to do anything on their own.”
Recalling the 2010 episode, she said: “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.”
“Later, even people from the Department of Personnel and Training, Department of Revenue and others supported me. I could have gone to the High Court or the Supreme Court. Since I was right and capable, CAT ruled in my favour and I joined IRS,’’ she said.
Preparing for the civil services examination again and attending CAT proceedings, Ira also taught Spanish and English as a tutor in Safdarjung Enclave, New Delhi. “I am yet to explore Hyderabad. I arrived here on June 21 and the course started the next day. I have heard a lot about this place, so may be when I get time, my colleagues will I will explore the city,’’ she said.
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Additional Director P N Rao said Ira and others in her batch are currently undergoing training in the Central Excise and Service Tax module.
“So many people are calling to congratulate me. It is overwhelming. The only people I have managed to speak with properly are my parents in New Delhi,’’ she said. She is the daughter of Anita and Rajendra Singhal. A Bachelor of Engineering (Computer Science) with an MBA, she had worked as a customer development manager with a leading chocolate company from 2008 to January 2010.
PTI adds: Renu Raj, a doctor from Kerala, and Nidhi Gupta, also an IRS officer from Delhi, both 27-year-old, secured second and third positions respectively.
Vandana Rao, who is also from Delhi, secured the fourth rank while Suharsha Bhagat, an IRS (Income Tax cadre) officer, who hails from Bihar, got the fifth position.
Renu, who completed her MBBS from Kerala, got the second rank in her first attempt. “I am extremely happy. I have been preparing for the exam for the last one year. Perseverance pays,” she said over phone from Thiruvananthapuram. Renu works in a hospital in Kollam and hails from Kottayam.
Third rank holder Nidhi said, “It is really a proud moment. I put in lot of hard work and finally it paid off.” An Assistant Commissioner of Central Excise and Customs, she is presently undergoing training at Faridabad.
A total of 1,364 posts are to be filled through the civil services examination. There are 254 candidates in the waiting list.