“Everyone is a loser. Winners are just losers with more patience.”
― George Hammond
It was patience when young Pranjal Patil learnt to read through her fingers to empower her with knowledge. It was patience when she discovered a software that would help her listen to the written word and make education easier. It was patience when she spent hours and hours straining her brain cells over dozens of books while preparing for various exams. It was patience when people told her to stop being ambitious because she was blind, however, she simply waited for her success to speak.
Now, she is an IAS officer after having scored a brilliant all-India rank of 124 in one of the toughest exams of the country. She slashed through all the competition and succeeded in Union Public Service Examination to prove a point to people who doubted her abilities. Who were they and how were they unfair to Pranjal is a story that needs to be told.
Born with perfect vision, Pranjal lost her first eye in an accident when she was only six. One of her friend in school accidentally stabbed her in the eye with a sharp pencil. This destroyed her eyesight in one eye. It was a major blow on a child’s confidence to lose such a vital organ and look different from the rest of kids. But Pranjal was brave and accepted to live with her truth. However, after just 12 months, side effects of a medicine she was consuming hunted down her other eye as well, leaving her completely blind.
“Anyone who looks different from crowd becomes an object of judgement in the society. People start presuming about them even before talking or getting to know them. Each of us needs to change this attitude within ourselves,” Patil says.
Till STD 10, she studied Smt. Kamla Mehta School for the Blind in Dadar, Mumbai in Marathi medium where she had books in braille. She says she was in her own little world till then and wasn’t serious about life, goals, career or achievements. But she put in a lot of hardwork in STD 12 and scored very well.
Life started taking a turn when she took admission in St. Xavier’s College which was in CST, a local train ride of one hour and ten minutes away from her home in Ulhasnagar, Thane district on outskirts of Mumbai. She saw that students from all parts of the country were on the campus bringing varied cultures with them. They all spoke in English and it took a lot of effort for Pranjal to fit among them.
However, her train travels were in complete contrast with the open-minded environment of her college. Her co-passengers often asked her, “Why don’t you get someone to accompany you everyday?” She snapped back, “Can you find someone to do it for you daily?” Sometimes, people would suggest her, “Why don’t you take admission in a nearby college?” Such statements from people made her realize that they couldn’t digest that a person with disability can dream big. Nonetheless, she took the grueling long train ride to college everyday for three years.
She brought back notes from friends which her mother used to read out for Pranjal to listen and memorize. “It wasn’t easy for my mom to go through different types of handwriting and make sense of what was written before she read it out to me,” she says. But all this efforts made the results heartwarming. She topped the Mumbai University and started dreaming bigger.
For her Masters she got admission in the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi where she pursued her masters in international relations, followed by MPhil, PhD, and wedding in 2014. It was in Delhi when she decided to aim at the IAS examination and serve the country as an officer. She had to give up a lot of comforts and focus entirely on preparing for the exams.
Comfortable life is no good. One must seek challenges to improve their abilities. – Pranjal
Govt’s Failure, Her Success
In 2016, she cleared the exams with an all-India ranking of 773. She was assigned railways services but the department stated that she was 100 percent visually impaired making her unfit for the job. They clearly failed to see her determination and dedication to combat her challenges and cleat the examination. This hurt Pranjal but instead of being heartbroken she promised herself that she will get an even better cadre next time.
This year, she scored the all-India rank of 124 proving everyone who pulled her down wrong. The 29-year-old says, “Off course I was doing IAS for the good post, facilities, comforts and perks, but more than that I wanted to motivate people to chase bigger goals and live a life of purpose.” It matters more how you do a job and not what you do. Even if someone is washing the dished they must strive to become the best dishwasher in the world.
“This is an answer to all those who doubted my potential,” Pranjal says.
This woman’s spirit is worth sharing in bulk. Share the article with your friends and leave your comments in the box below.