“Only I know what my potential is and what I’m capable of” –Ira Singhal

Meet Ira Singhal, a brilliant and a truly inspiring individual who proves that human strength and determination is boundless.

“Only I know what my potential is and what I’m capable of” –Ira Singhal

Intelligent, change-maker, patriot, braveheart – these are the many qualities that describe Ira Singhal. She is someone who proves by example that human strength and determination is boundless. 

Ira cleared the highly competitive UPSC exam in 2010, and then reappeared and topped it in 2014. She is an engineer, has a dual MBA degree, loves football, is fluent in Spanish, and is quite a prankster. Singhal is Officer Trainee, Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Government of India since August 2015.

Oh, and she also happens to be physically challenged, suffering from scoliosis.

Meet the brilliant and truly inspiring Ira.

Tell us about your journey – the struggles and challenges – and how you motivated yourself to overcome these obstacles? 

At my home, there is never the option of not working, whatever the struggles you face. In every phase of my life, there have been challenges. I have had to fight to achieve even small things that come naturally to most people. So having to work hard and struggle is normal for me.

It is all about having faith in your abilities and proving yourself. People always assume that physical disability means limitations in aspects of your life as well. Just because I have a physical disability doesn’t mean I don’t have the mental capability to achieve whatever I want.

As to how I stay motivated, I look at it this way – what other option does one have in life? Set a goal and ask yourself if it is achievable. Do you deserve it? If the answer is yes, just go for it. 

What was your family's reaction to the news of you cracking the UPSC to the subsequent legal battle? Who is your closest friend and advisor among the members?

When I first decided to quit my job at Cadbury to pursue UPSC, my parents weren't that keen. Their apprehension was valid as I have not been a great student. I was always someone who would scan the books at the last minute and go and sit for the exams. My parents were convinced I was quitting my job because I was too lazy to work!

My first cousin, who is more of a brother to me, supported my decision and convinced my parents that I was serious about this and was willing to give it my all. His support made all the difference.

You may have encountered several naysayers in your journey. What do you have to say to them? 

I don’t really pay attention to naysayers. They don’t know me. They have not lived my life. So I do not allow their negativity in my life. I also understand if someone has something untoward to say to me, it is coming from their own insecurities and fear that they are projecting on me. In reality, it does not have much to do with me. I’m very realistic about my potential; as long as I know what I’m capable of, what others say does not affect me.

Do you have any valuable preparation tips to share with IAS and MBA aspirants?

There is no one right method to prepare. The biggest mistake you can make is to rely on what everyone around tells you to do. What works for one person may not work for you. You need to find your own ground. The way you think and function is different from anyone else. The way you have lived determines your approach. Listen to other people’s stories, but do not assume that theirs is the only method.

What is your vision for the new India? What would you like to change to build a better nation? 

We need to stop being so prejudiced. We as a society are extremely biased and just not willing to give other people a chance. We need to stop defining rules for other people. It is important to focus on bettering our self than the rest of the world. 

You once said ‘everyone is differently-abled’. Could you please elaborate?

Some people can do ballet, some can sing, some are chess masters. Everyone has different abilities. It’s precisely that. Each one of us is a different individual. Every person cannot do every single thing. We all have things we can and cannot do. So let’s focus on the positives, rather than crib about what we are not capable of.

What are the three things about Ira Singhal the world doesn’t know?

I love dancing. I have done a lot of theatre. And I’m passionate about travelling!

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