Ira is the first person in India with a disability to hold the position of Deputy Commissioner, North Delhi Municipal Corporation.
“The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a person’s determination” - Tommy Lasorda
This quote stands true for 34-year-old Ira Singhal a diff-abled IAS officer. She is the first person with a disability who has topped the UPSC CSE exam in India and holds the position of Deputy Commissioner, North Delhi Municipal Corporation. And she achieved this all while fighting a medical condition called scoliosis, which is essentially the curvature of the spine.
She attempted the Civil Service Examination thrice before finally securing All India Rank 1 in 2015. Ira, all her life has never let any circumstances dampen her spirits.Hailing from Meerut and then Delhi, she completed her engineering degree from Netaji Subhas Institute of Technology and then did her MBA in Marketing and Finance from Faculty of Management Studies Delhi. While working as a strategy manager at Cadbury’s she decided to attempt the civil service examination.
Her desire to become an IAS officer was triggered by an incident in Meerut when she was in class 3. Every time a curfew was imposed in Meerut, she heard her elders saying that the District Magistrate issued the orders. As a child, she was mesmerized by the fact that DM was so powerful to issue such orders. It was this intrigue that fuelled her dreams.
Though she achieved her dreams and made the impossible, possible, the journey till this point was not a smooth sail. She attempted the CSE for the first time in 2010, then consequently in 2011, 2012, & 2013. Though she cleared her exams in the first attempt but due to her disability, she was declared ineligible to occupy any post other than the Indian Revenue Service.
But Ira’s determination was as strong as steel and she decided not to give up and she moved Central Administrative Tribunal challenging the status. After a long drawn battle, she won her case in 2014. Her reason behind filling the case was not just to secure a post for herself but also to open doors for others with disability.
After winning the case, for three months Ira kept waiting for her letter of joining. While she waited her friend suggested to attempt the paper again. As she completed her mains, she finally got her letter. There was no looking back after that, she sincerely undertook her training, without worrying about the results. As fate would have it, Ira topped the exam in her fourth attempt and created history by making it to the Indian Administrative Service.
She always believed that Government would not succumb to any discrimination and would upheld the right to equality, unlike the private sector. But her journey and first-hand experience quite changed her perception.
We all have so much to learn from Ira, who has never let her disability become an excuse to not follow her dreams. Her life is testament of the fact that if you have determination then nothing is impossible to achieve.