As we look into the lives of the women achievers who could overcome extreme situations and hurdles of life against all obstacles, we are forced to mull over reasons why we brood over being women instead of taking a right call as a confident woman. We don’t know how many of us know the real-life stories of these women, but would bow down hundred times to these goddesses of confidence, ability, and energy personified, says Tapati, in the regular column. A Different Truths exclusive.
The most cherished programmes on TV I enjoy is the Republic Day Parade that keeps me glued to the TV since morning through hours till the broadcast comes to an end. This has become almost a ritual since childhood when my mind flew over the breadth of India with a myriad display of colours in her palette of diversity.
But the most exhilarating moment of Republic Day celebration is the Presidential award program. Keeping aside the issues muddled in our day to day life, we adored the people awarded on this day, the special people who have greatly contributed to our nation. These people are chosen from different fields across the land irrespective of their social status and profession.
This year has been a memorable one when our President facilitated 112 women for their remarkable journey as “first ladies” in their respective fields. As I keep pondering over women’s issues on the Women’s Day, that we celebrated about a week back, questions galore in my mind: women’s safety, physical and sexual abuse, economic freedom, equality in professional and outer world, overpowering personal relationships, are some of the burning issues that popover in our daily discussions, newspapers, TV channels and in various other places. But, as I look into the lives of the women achievers who could overcome extreme situations and hurdles of life against all obstacles, I am forced to mull over reasons why we brood over being women instead of taking a right call as a confident woman. I don’t know how many of us know the real-life stories of these women, but I would bow down hundred times to these goddesses of confidence, ability, and energy personified.
Beno Zephine is India’s first visually impaired woman to join the Indian Foreign Service in 2015. Currently serving in the Indian embassy in Paris, this young woman’s story shows how willpower coupled with support at home can help overcome any physical disability.
In absence of study material in Braille, her parents spent hours reading out to her so that she could learn, revise and remember information as a student. She not only passed the civil services examination but ranked 343 and secured a position in coveted Foreign Service. In her late twenties and originally from Chennai, Zephine is posted as a language trainee in Paris. She is experimenting with speech assistive tools to help her execute her responsibilities. She is also using Job Access With Speech (JAWS), a software that the visually challenged to read from a computer screen.
Before the “first ladies” were felicitated at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, in a felicitation function organised by the women and child development ministry, she expressed, “the honour makes her feel more responsible and encourages me to do more.”
She is an individual who makes us rethink our entire lives. She is a testament to the fact that stubbornly pursuing our passions is the only way to the path of greatness. She is a person who did not let a mere disability get in the way of her absolute genius. Ira Singhal topped the UPSC examination in 2014 and had to fight various obstacles.
She is a victim of Scoliosis, which is a medical condition entailing a deviation of the spine. Owing to this, she has difficulty moving her arm. This condition debars her from being eligible to be an Indian Revenue Services Officer, a clerk or even a sweeper.
At 31, this was her fourth attempt at UPSC examinations. Although she cleared the examinations in 2010 also, she was denied a position on the grounds of physical disability.
However, she was not one to back down and she fought her case at the Central Administrative Tribunal, won it and was admitted in 2014. In her own language, she explained her ordeals:
“It was a big disappointment, a major setback then. But I decided to fight back. It was tough initially as I had to undergo tests, submit medical certificates and prove that I am capable of doing jobs entrusted to me in the IRS. For two years, it was tough but then everyone realised that I am capable of working in spite of the disabilities. They realised I am no pushover.”
Ira Singhal has an admirable background in education from her schooling in Loreto Convent and The Army Public School, Dhaula Kuan to her graduation in B.E in Computer engineering and a post-graduation in M.B.A from the University of Delhi.
She loves football and is extremely proficient in Spanish. Also, if any faith is to be laid in a Facebook profile, she is a Harry Potter fan.
Her statement in her IAS paper that: “I want to be an IAS officer. I want to do something for the benefit of physically challenged people,” would make us stand up and salute this braveheart.
I stand on the same platform where thousands of women are torn between issues. Their one step ahead is marked by dragging steps left behind. But we have torchbearers to show that every battle can be fought and won over. Woman energy has been worshipped across the world in different forms, admired in folktales and literature; we have these women achievers who are the epitome of this woman power standing confidently to inspire others to their goals.
Photos from the Internet
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Tapati Sinha is educated from schooling to Post-Graduation from Visva-Bharati University with a Doctoral degree from Nagpur University in A.I.H.C.A. She loves Indian literature, Indian and world history and continues her personal research. She picks her subjects from various spheres including historical data, daily experiences of life and varied work places. Tapati is passionate to pursue her writings, novel, poetry, short stories on multifarious topics, past and present under the pen name Anjali.