Losing his eyesight at the age of 20 could have demoralised Krishna Tiwari.
Instead, he decided to proceed with his life according to plan, becoming India’s first IAS officer with a 75 per cent visual disability.
Tiwari, whose retina gradually deteriorated, leaving him legally blind by 2001, is currently finishing his training programme at Madhya Pradesh’s RCVP Noronha Academy of Administration in Bhopal.
In a welcome change, the government is adapting itself to working with people with disabilities, rather than the other way around.
Director General (Academy of Administration) Sandeep Khanna, who has served with the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in the past, made a laptop and screen reader software available to help Tiwari with his training.
The Academy also got a Braille printer and Braille translations of the Revenue Book Circular, the Land Revenue Code and the Civil Services (Conduct) Rules — the Bibles of every revenue officer.
“This is being done as part of a move to have more inclusive education,” said Khanna.
The Academy has also offered the 28-year-old the option of taking the equipment with him when he the training is over, to help him in his work.
It wasn’t always this easy, though.
Tiwari secured the 142nd rank in the Civil Services Examination, 2007, the highest rank ever for a person with a physical disability.
But in August that year, the Department of Personnel & Training told him he was ineligible to join the Indian Administrative Service on three counts: He would be unable to perform his duties as he could not see, he could not read or write and could not walk without help.
Tiwari protested, saying he was adept at handling computers and could walk in a secure area without help.
The matter was referred to the medical board and the objections were waived. In November 2007, Tiwari was finally inducted into the IAS.