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1st blind woman IAS officer takes charge

October 15, 2019 05:09 AM



A young woman holding a walking stick entered the sub-collector’s office here around 11am on Monday. As Pranjal Patil took her seat, it marked a giant step for India’s bureaucracy.

Patil, the country’s first blind woman IAS officer, took charge as sub-collector of Thiruvananthapuram on the eve of the White Cane Awareness Day.

The 2017 batch Kerala cadre officer had served as assistant collector of Ernakulam during her training period. “I am glad and proud to take charge. I am expecting a lot of support from my staff and everybody in working for people,” Patil told reporters.

Patil, who hails from Ulhasnagar, lost her eyesight at the age of eight due to retinal detachment. Using software that converts text to speech, she graduated in political science from St Xavier’s College, Mumbai, and did masters in international relations from JNU.

Pranjal Patil, who has roots in Ulhasnagar, assumed office as a sub-collector in Kerala’s capital

Breaking glass ceiling was doubly hard

Breaking the glass ceiling as a blind woman has been doubly hard for Patil. In 2016, she was denied a posting in the Indian Railway Accounts Service despite a UPSC rank of

773. Although it was a violation of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, Patil did not waste time fretting over it.

In her next attempt, Patil cleared UPSC again with a rank of 124, becoming the first blind woman to achieve the feat. “We should never feel defeated. We should never give up. With effort, all of us will get that one breakthrough,” she said.

Married to a businessman, Patil carries forward the legacy of Krishna Gopal Tiwari, a 2008 batch officer of the Madhya Pradesh cadre who became the first visually challenged person to crack IAS. Rajesh Singh, another visually challenged candidate, cleared the civil services exam in 2007 but had to wait three years to get a posting. Singh joined the Assam-Meghalaya cadre in 2010 after a legal battle in the Supreme Court to get his appointment cleared

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