Story of Pranjal Patil, India's first visually-challenged woman IAS officer
Pranjal Patil, the first visually challenged woman IAS officer in the country, recently took over as Sub-Collector of Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala in October 2019. Despite being visually impaired, she never gave up on her dreams and battled great odds in her life to become an IAS officer and achieved success. Here's the inspiring story of Pranjal Patil you should know about.
Pranjal, hailing from Ulhasnagar in Maharashtra, was born with weak eyesight and lost her vision when she was only six. She did her schooling from Mumbai's Kamala Mehta Dadar School for the blind and pursued graduation in Political Science from St. Xavier's College. She completed post-graduation in International Relations from Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University and then went for an integrated MPhil and PhD program.
Though she lost her eyesight at a young age, the visual impairment didn't deter her from pursuing her Civil Services dream. She decided to prepare for the UPSC Civil Services Examination and cracked it in 2016 in her first attempt, securing AIR-773. Though she got a good rank, she was refused a job with the Indian Railway Accounts Service because she was visually challenged.
When Pranjal was deemed unfit for the Indian Railway Accounts Service (IRAS) job, it was a huge setback for her. However, she did not let this pull her down. She fought for what she was entitled to, based on her merit. She was later offered a job with the Postal and Telecommunications Department, which was of a lower level than what she deserved.
Interestingly, Pranjal had chosen not to take any coaching for the Civil Services Examination as she felt that it would put unnecessary pressure on her. She had prepared for the exam on her own with the help of special software that could read books for her. Pranjal also solved mock test papers and attended discussions as part of her preparation.
Pranjal decided to appear for the 2017 Civil Services Examination and doubled her efforts. Her hard work paid off and she improved her ranking with AIR-124 in the second attempt; she got accepted into the Indian Administrative Service (IAS). The 2017-batch Kerala cadre IAS officer served as an Assistant Collector in Kerala's Ernakulam for a year before taking charge as the Sub-Collector of Thiruvanthapuram.