Pranjal Patil, a 28-year-old visually challenged woman from Ulhasnagar, cracking the UPSC exam in her first attempt has proved far easier than getting a government job. Because, the gritty woman has been running from pillar to post after being informed that she would get a job in the Indian Railway Accounts Service (IRAS). And the reason is: the Railways now claims that someone who is visually challenged is ineligible for the job.
In May 2016, Patil cleared the examination with an all-India rank of 773. “Around June-July, I got a letter from the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) that I have been allotted a job in the IRAS, and that the training would begin in December 2016,” said Patil, who is currently in Delhi.
Patil waited patiently for December to arrive so that she could live her long-cherished dream of becoming an IAS officer. But her hopes were dashed when there was no communication from DoPT or the Railways. “When I contacted them in the first week of December regarding the training, they verbally told me that they cannot appoint a person with 100 per cent blindness,” added Patil.
In a letter dated November 8, 2016, the Railways informed the DoPT that they could not accept Patil’s candidature. “Only partially blind (PB) candidates under visually impaired (VI) category are recruited to IRAS. Therefore, it is not feasible to accept the candidature of Patil Pranjal Lahensingh for IRAS,” reads the letter. “The dossier is returned for further action as per your end,” it states.
When contacted on the issue, the Railways blamed DoPT for the “confusion” and said Patil was never eligible for a job in IRAS due to her 100 per cent blindness. A Railway official, who did not wish to be named, said, “DoPT knows that people with 100% blindness cannot get a job in IRAS. Patil’s file should not have come to us in the first place. However, when Patil’s dossier came to us, we returned it to DoPT. DoPT should have communicated this to Patil.”
Stressing that the Railways has no role in the matter, the official added that DoPT should allot an alternative job to Patil at the earliest.
Patil is furious that neither DoPT nor the Railways bothered to inform her about this. These developments came as quite a blow to her, because she had never believed in the word impossible even when she lost her vision completely at the age of six.
“I was disgusted, sad, hurt, angry, and all at the same time. Like others, I had also cleared the UPSC exams. But why do I have to face this situation,” she asks.
Patil feels that India has a progressive system only on paper, and the ground reality is very different. “On one hand, we have job reservations for the differently abled, but the situation is different when it comes to implementation,” she adds.
She also questions India’s faith in digital revolution: “It was with the help of technology that I was able to crack UPSC; and I am sure that if trained adequately, then with the help of technology I will be able to handle this position,” she says.
Patil has already written to higher officials and is waiting for their response before taking up any legal step. “I wrote to the Prime Minister’s Office and Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu. I have not received any response from them yet. I will wait for some time and then decide on the legal recourse to this,” she said.
Whatever happens, Patil wants two things to come out of this fight. “I want the railways to relax this rule of not employing those with 100 per cent blindness. And secondly, if they allot me any service, it should be as per my rank and merit and not as per their convenience,” she asserts.
News Source: DNA India