On May 28 this year, 30-year-old Pranjal Patil took charge as the Assistant Collector of Ernakulam district of Kerala, becoming the country’s first visually challenged woman IAS officer.
Patil was born with weak eyesight and lost her vision when she was six. However, that was nothing to crush her spirits. The dream of becoming an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer was alive inside her and she was ready to conquer all odds to make this dream a reality.
Patil completed her Masters in International Relations from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), after which she was admitted into an integrated M.Phil and Ph.D programme. Her exposure to the culture of JNU inspired her to work for the right cause and she decided to pursue a career in civil services.
After clearing the UPSC exams in the first attempt, Patil was offered a job in the Indian Railway Account Service (IRAS). However, the railways refused to appoint her owing to her nil vision.
“After the railways’ refusal, I was disappointed, but not ready to give up the fight. I again worked hard to improve my ranking in the second attempt,” she said to the Hindustan Times.
She has a piece of advice for the railways, “The doors of opportunity should be open to all and not restricted to physical limitations.”
She cracked the UPSC exams in the second attempt and stood 124th in the country. She was appointed the Assistant Collector at Ernakulam. She completed the first leg of her training at the Lal Bahadur Shashri National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie. As part of her training, she will hold the position of the Assistant Collector for a year.
“Currently, it is my training period as Assistant Collector. I am learning about various departments and their functions. There are many challenges ahead of me,” she said to Hindustan Times.
Patil says that no one should consider blindness as an obstacle. It is people like her who inspire us to work hard with the best of our capabilities and set an example.
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