Indian Helen Keller: Visually Impaired Woman Achieves Her Dream of Becoming an IAS Officer

Pranjal Patil was born with weak eyesight. At the tender age of six, she lost her eyesight completely. However, earlier this year, she took charge as the Sub-Collector of the capital of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram.

A First for the Nation

Ms. Patil is the first visually impaired woman in India to become an IAS officer. Joining the Indian Administrative Service had been a life-long dream of hers, and over the years she’d had to overcome numerous obstacles to achieve it.

A resident of Ulhasnagar in Maharashtra, Pranjal was denied many of the opportunities during her formative years that her peers were able to make use of.

Pranjal Patil cleared the UPSC exams in her first attempt. However, that was only the beginning of Pranjal’s trials and tribulations. Initially offered a position with the Indian Railway Accounts Service (IRAS), the railways later retracted their offer and refused to appoint her due to her blindness.

Facing and Overcoming Obstacles

Pranjal admits freely that the rejection from the railways, owing to her disability, disappointed her massively. However, she was not yet ready to throw in the towel and give up on her dreams of serving the nation as a bureaucrat.

Pranjal Patil knew that the only way to realize her dream was to improve her rank on her second attempt, and she began preparing to do just that, working tirelessly round the clock in preparation for the upcoming exams.

Her efforts paid off. On her second attempt, Pranjal cracked the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) exams with an even better rank than before! Not only did she improve her rank, but she stood 124th in the country, a remarkable feat for any candidate.

Entrance into the Civil Services

Finally, she was accepted by the civil services and her efforts were rewarded when she joined the team at Ernakulam, Kerala as Assistant Collector. For the first few days after taking up her new post, Pranjal spent her time answering questions from the media, who seemed fascinated by her achievement.

However, according to Pranjal, her achievements should not be seen as some kind of an exceptional feat of brilliance and tenacity. Rather, the nation should work to ensure that the doors of opportunity are open to all, and not only to those with physical and mental capacities that are considered “normal” by society.

Before joining the civil service, Pranjal completed her undergraduate studies with a focus on Political Science. She then proceeded to get a master’s degree in International Relations from Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi. She also earned an MPhil and a PhD from the same institution. Pranjal had begun her educational journey from the Kamla Mehta School for the Blind in Dadar, Mumbai.

A Remarkable Journey

According to her, physicist Stephen Hawking and Japanese philosopher Daisaku Ikeda are Pranjal’s role models. She says that her parents, friends, and husband had always encouraged her to reach for her dreams and never give up, regardless of the obstacles that came her way.

Talking about her new position, Pranjal said:

“I am feeling extremely glad and proud after taking this charge. As I start working I will be able to know more about the district and would plan better for it. I expect support and co-operation from my fellow officers and the people of Trivandrum.”

We wish Pranjal all the best in her career and hope she will serve as an inspiration to young people around the country!

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Nupur Chowdhury

Nupur Chowdhury is a writer, blogger, novelist, and professional web content creator. In her free time, she can be found reading pulp fiction, binging on TV shows, or playing with her cat – sometimes all three at once. You can check out her blog for all the awesome updates! You can also connect with Nupur on Twitter and Facebook.

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