10kg lad leads- ER-MBA beats disability-red tape tops CSE

10kg lad leads- ER-MBA beats disability-red tape tops CSE



Ira Singhal (second from right, in a striped T-shirt) celebrates her success with friends in Hyderabad on Saturday. (PTI)

New Delhi, July 4: A woman who lifted 10kg weights with her disabled arms to prove her fitness and become a revenue officer last year has topped the civil services exam this year.

Ira Singhal, an engineer, and an MBA took the exam again because she wants to join the Indian Administrative Service. She has stood first among the 1,236 successful candidates in the Civil Services Examination 2014. The second and third positions have also been taken by girls.

In the exam of 2010, she had ranked 815th, which would have got her into the Indian Revenue Service (IRS) under the 3 percent quota for the disabled.


But what a tribunal later ruled as a bureaucratic lapse prevented her from joining the service, part of whose job involves catching smugglers, gunrunners and tax evaders.

The Union Public Service Commission, which conducts the exam, notifies the disabilities permitted for each service. For the revenue service, the notification allows a disability in one arm and one leg, but not in both arms or both legs.


Renu Raj, who secured the second rank in the civil services exam, with her family at their home in 
Kerala on Saturday.

Ira can move neither arm freely. She suffers from cerebral palsy, a condition caused by irreversible damage to parts of the brain that control the coordination of movement, balance, and posture.

As her disability didn't fit the notification, she was not selected. Ira moved the Central Administrative Tribunal, alleging violation of the Disabilities Act, 1995, her lawyer Jyoti Singh explained today.

The tribunal ruled that the notification should have, but didn't, mention a criterion or test to decide whether a candidate's disability did indeed make her unfit for the service.

"After much passing the buck between the department of personnel and training and the department of revenue, she was finally sent to Safdarjung Hospital here to check if she met the functional classification for the IRS," Singh said.

"For the IRS, one should be able to lift a 10kg weight with one hand."


Nidhi Gupta, who came third, with her family in Delhi.

Singhal cleared the test in 2012, lifting 10kg weights with not just one but each of her arms, but her appointment was further delayed as the vacancies had been filled. Eventually, the tribunal ordered the finance ministry to appoint her and she joined the service in 2014.

"This judgment was unprecedented. It was the first time the tribunal had come to the rescue of a disabled person despite her disability not being notified," lawyer Singh said.

"They did so despite resistance from the government, in the spirit of the Disabilities Act. Her top rank vindicates her stand that merit must be recognized."


Vandana Rao, who came fourth, at her home in Delhi. PTI pictures

Ira told a TV channel: "I'm really very happy. I can't believe I topped... I want to be an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer. I want to do something for the benefit of physically challenged people."

Women have bagged the top four ranks in this year's civil services exam. Renu Raj, a doctor from Changanassery in Kerala ranked second while Nidhi Gupta from Delhi ranked third and Vandana Rao came fourth. Nidhi too is an IRS officer.

Suharsha Bhagat is the only male candidate to make it to the top five.

"The civil service exam has never witnessed such performance led by girls," said Purushottam Agrawal, a former member of the Union Public Service Commission.

There are about 180 vacancies in the IAS, 150 in the Indian Police Service and 32 in the Indian Foreign Service.

Source: Telegraph India

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