Kerala woman appears for UPSC exam with oxygen cylinder
As she appeared for civil services preliminary examination on Sunday, Latheesha Ansari had more deterrents to face than most other candidates. Ansari, a 25-year-old woman from Kottayam, suffers from a rare genetic disorder coupled with a respiratory issue and had to appear for the highly coveted exams, conducted by the Union Public Services Commission, on an automated wheelchair with an oxygen cylinder in tow.
Ansari suffers from brittle bone disease, pulmonary hypertension
Soon after birth, Ansari was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder, type II Osteogenesis Imperfecta (brittle bone disease). It causes bones to break easily and reportedly, Ansari has suffered around 400 fractures. Over a year ago, she was also diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension- a type of high blood pressure affecting arteries in the lungs and the heart- making her dependent on round-the-clock oxygen support.
District Collector intervened to help when Ansari made headlines
As reports of Ansari's requirement for an oxygen cylinder to the exam hall flooded different news publications last week, Kottayam District Collector PR Sudheer Babu intervened and swung the health department into motion to supply her with a portable oxygen concentrator.
Father carried her inside exam hall due to no ramps
With her parents by her side, Ansari took two oxygen cylinders along with her all the way to her exam center in Thiruvananthapuram. Although a portable oxygen concentrator was provided inside the examination hall, her father reportedly had to carry her inside, as there were no ramps at the center. Ansari is competing in the general quota and this was her first attempt.
'Cannot stay inside home all day clinging to oxygen cylinders'
"I desperately need portable oxygen support because I have to move around taking competitive examinations. I have completed my education and need to work. I take motivation classes. I cannot stay inside the house all day clinging onto heavy oxygen cylinders," she told NDTV.
Determined to crack exam to inspire others like me: Ansari
Ansari, who prepared for the exam for over a year and a half, told NDTV, "The paper was easy, and I hope and pray that I clear it." She added, "I am determined to crack this examination because that would inspire many others like me to do it too." She has completed her M.Com and chose Malayalam as an optional subject for the exam.
Besides cracking UPSC, Ansari also interested in painting, music
Ansari also takes an interest in glass paintings and playing the keyboard. Ansari, who has appeared on television programs for music shows told The News Minute that she developed an interest in music in class 4 and has even performed before former CM Oommen Chandy.
She had to discontinue IAS coaching due to financial struggles
After completing M.Com, Ansari had started coaching to prepare for the exam but had to discontinue due to financial issues. "We spend around Rs. 25,000 per month for Latheesha's medical and supportive care, which includes the use of oxygen cylinders round-the-clock. There are many loans to repay too because we keep borrowing from well-wishers," her father, who runs a small eatery, told NDTV.
High time UPSC improved facilities for candidates like Ansari
Latha Nair of Amritavarshini, a charitable society for brittle bone disease, urged the UPSC to improve facilities for IAS aspirants like Ansari. "The government needs to understand that this is a rare genetic disorder that affects one in 20,000 people. It has to be brought under the rare disease list and included in the law meant for people with disabilities," she told the publication.