The Differently-abled Topper

7 months ago / by Swarnendu Biswas
Ira Singhal
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Being differently-abled didn’t stop Ira Singhal in going ahead of many not differently-abled persons in one of the toughest competitive examinations held in India. By doing so she broke many stereotypes conventionally being held about differently-abled people.

While studying about Ira Singhal we can come to know that she not only cleared the extremely tough Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) examination in India, in the general category, but also became a topper in the UPSC exam in 2014. The demanding competitive exam is being conducted on all India basis to select the civil services officers in India.

Academic Excellence

By achieving such a feat, she became the first differently-abled person to top the UPSC examination in the general category.

Ira Singhal suffers from scoliosis, which is a spine-related disorder that disturbs the movement of her arms and is the cause of her extremely short height. In any good biography of Ira Singhal her struggles and triumphs must be comprehensively and sensitively presented and it should be pointed out that her parents always supported her ambitions and goals and never treated her as a physically handicapped person.

Born in the Meerut city of the Uttar Pradesh state of India on 31st August 1983, the age of Ira Singhal is 39 years. Ira showed signs of academic brilliance from a very young age. She was among the toppers at Sophia Girls School, Meerut and Loreto Convent School, Delhi; two of the institutions from which she did her schooling from. She completed her schooling from Army Public School, located in Dhaula Kuan, Delhi.

Besides being an administrator, she is a trained computer engineer and an MBA too. Ira Singhal did begin her journey in higher studies with a B. Tech in  Computer Engineering from Netaji Subhas Institute of Technology, Delhi (now Netaji Subhas University of Technology NSUT), which she followed by earning her MBA in Marketing & Finance from Faculty of Management Studies, University of Delhi.

Following her MBA, she worked as a Strategy Manager with Cadbury India and as a Marketing Intern with the Coca-Cola Company. Her professional experience before joining the prestigious civil services and becoming an IAS Officer, which was her dream since childhood, also included teaching Spanish at a language institute for a year.

Cracking the Challenge

In 2010, she appeared for the UPSC examination for the first time. She cleared the examination then and also in her subsequent attempts in 2011, 2013 and 2014.  She was selected for the Indian Revenue Service three times; after each of her three successful attempts in cracking the exam during 2010-2013, but she was refused posting because of having 62 percent locomotor disability.

In response to her being denied the job because of her physical condition, she filed a suit against UPSC in the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), in 2012. She believed that the decision to not let her join IRS was violative of the Persons with Disability Act and Article 14 and 16 of India’s Constitution.

Ira Singhal eventually won the case after two years and was given the position of Assistant Commissioner in Indian Revenue Service (C&CE). However, even better things awaited the determined and hard-working lady. In her fourth attempt at the UPSC examination, Ira Singhal topped the exam and got Indian Administrative Service (IAS), whereas in the first three attempts at the UPSC examination she got Indian Revenue Service. IAS is considered to be more prestigious than IRS.

Achievements and Recognition

As an officer in the IAS Ira Singhal already has a few noteworthy achievements to her credit. Within one year of her posting as Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Government of NCT of Delhi, she was instrumental in rescuing around 340 child and bonded labourers and returning them to their families. She is presently serving as Deputy Commissioner since May 2021.

In 2015, Ira Singhal was appointed as the Brand Ambassador for Department of Disability, Ministry of Social Justice and EmpowermentGovernment of India. She is also one of the Brand Ambassadors for the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India and of NITI Aayog of the Government of India. Ira Singhal was also adjudged as the India Today’s Woman of the Year, 2015 and is recorded in the Limca Book of Records.


Who is Ira Singhal married to?

According to the latest reports she is single.

When did Ira Singhal become an IAS Officer?

She became an IAS Officer in 2015.

How many times has Ira Singhal attempted for the UPSC examination?

She appeared four times in that competitive examination and cleared it in all the four times.