When Mani Ram Sharma was growing up, his farm-labourer parents were worried about his future because of his total hearing impairment. But he not only made them proud but also is a hero today to his village.
The 2009-batch IAS officer (39), who hails from Badangarh village in Rajasthan’s Alwar district, has been transferred by the central government to Haryana from the Manipur-Tripura cadre. The appointments committee of the cabinet approved the change on January 7 as per the guidelines issued by the Union personnel and public grievances ministry for the change of cadre of the IAS officers appointed against vacancies reserved for disabled people 10 months ago.
On Friday, the state government posted Mani Ram as additional deputy commissioner and District Rural Development Authority (DRDA) chief executive officer of Mahendergarh that borders his home state of Rajasthan. “It wasn’t an easy journey. I had to struggle to achieve my goal but didn’t give up, all thanks to the well-wishers, known or unknown, who helped and inspired me,” he told HT.
Born to illiterate parents, Mani Ram cleared the civil services entrance examinations thrice (2005, 2006 and 2009) but had to struggle to get into the IAS (Indian Administrative Service) because of being deaf. While he was denied entry initially because there no policy of inducting fully deaf candidates, in 2006 there was a technical hitch, as only successful candidates with less than 70% hearing disability were considered.
Mani Ram didn’t lose heart and had a surgical cochlear implant, costing Rs 7.5 lakh, to improve his hearing. “After my effort caught the attention of the media, I got anonymous financial assistance of Rs 8 lakh. It helped me pay my medical bills,” he said. In the 2009 civil services examinations, he did very well, and though there were a few more hiccups, he got into the IAS finally in October that year.
Mani Ram, who lost his hearing ability when he was barely 9, had to travel more than 5 kilometres to the nearest school in another village, but he overcame his disability, distance and other odds to complete his education and realise his dream. He was given the Manipur-Tripura cadre and served as assistant commissioner and subdivisional magistrate at Tamenglong and Churachandpur in Manipur for five years.