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Ira Singhal: The first differently-abled woman who cleared the UPSC examination in general category and secured first position

Everyone possesses some unique abilities. The natural ability to live and perform to their highest self is one’s potential.  It incorporates both internal and external work. The capacity of any individual is determined by himself, not by others. He is the only one who knows what he can and cannot do. So, how does society expect someone to behave in a certain way?

Ira Singhal was born in Meerut, a city in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. An Indian Administrative Service officer, she is the highest scorer in UPSC Civil Services Exam 2014. Ira Singhal has topped the exam on her fourth attempt and is the first woman with disabilities to top the civil services exam. She was born with scoliosis.


Scoliosis is a spine curvature that is most common in adolescents. More than 80% of scoliosis cases have no known cause. Scoliosis can also develop because of spinal disc degeneration, as seen in arthritis and osteoporosis, or as a hereditary condition.


Ira completed her schooling at the Army Public School, Dhaula Kuan and graduated in Computer Engineering from Netaji Subhas University of Technology[ NSUT] and received a Dual MBA in Marketing & Finance from the Faculty of Management Studies, University of Delhi.

Ira Singhal IAS


Ira worked as a marketing intern for the Coca-Cola Company and also worked as a Strategy Manager for Cadbury India. She was happy but not emotionally satisfied with those jobs.


Attracted to the services of a District Magistrate as a child, she aspired to become an IAS officer. Even as she grew up, she pursued her childhood dream. Ira worked at least 15 to 20 hours in the corporate sector. She worked hard for a long time and earned a lot of money. However, she wanted to help others and make a difference in their lives through her work. Not being able to do that, she was not satisfied with her work. She wished she could work in the same way for the betterment of the country.

Bitter Experiences

Since her school days, Ira has faced numerous challenges. When they approached a school, she was denied admission. They advised her father to enrol in a disabled institute. This made her depressed, but her father’s encouragement inspired her to achieve more in life.

Life is all about how well we use our abilities

Won the challenge But in Vain

Ira began preparing for the exams and cleared the UPSC exams four times, in 2010, 2011, 2013, and 2014, but was denied employment as an IRS officer thrice due to her disability.

Winning The Battle

She decided to fight the rejection in the Central Administrative Tribunal, where she eventually prevailed after a three-year battle. While she awaited her appointment as an IRS officer, she wrote the exam again and was appointed as an IAS officer in 2015. Ira Singhal, who received the President’s Gold Medal for topping the IAS Training.

Her Prime Area

Singhal has made disability awareness a top priority in her work. Ira wished to alter society’s attitude toward disabled people. Making schools more inclusive was one of her primary objectives. As a result, she initiated from the schools.

She believes that people with disabilities can perform better, even outperform others in certain job profiles. According to Ira, it is more important to focus on their abilities rather than their limitations or disabilities.

She shows the world that nothing is impossible

For The Marginalised

Ira Singhal was the first officer to hire transgender people in government offices. She believed that interacting with people daily increases awareness and acceptance of the transgender community. As a result, she assigned two transgender employees to work in the reception area.

Within a year of her posting, she rescued over 340 children and labourers and returned them to their families.

Ira Worked as a brand ambassador for the Department of Disabled Persons, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Ministry of Women and Child Development and NITI Aayog. She served in the National Panel for Accessible Elections, Election Commission of India, and became a part of the Designing Committee of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) Examination Policy on Children with Disabilities.

She has been felicitated as India Today’s Woman of the Year, received the President’s Gold Medal for topping IAS training in 2015 and received the First Lady of India Award by the Ministry of Women and Child Development. She is also recorded in the Limca Book of Records.

Ira Singal, who was denied IRS three times because of her disability, is establishing her ideas and advocating for the marginalised. She is unconcerned about her disability because her family has never placed restrictions on her. She is successfully climbing every step of life with the help of her family. While she enjoyed working in the corporate sector, she yearned to do good for the community and thus changed her career path. She had to overcome many obstacles to achieve her dream. She is now attempting to eradicate societal problems. Ira became an inspiration because of her strong determination, hard work, and confidence in handling situations. Ira Singhal is a role model for everyone. She shows the world that nothing is impossible when we are determined to achieve our goals.

Credits and References