Of the 670 candidates that made it to the Odisha civil services examination’s merit list last week, eight personified not just a triumph of mind, but also of grit and determination.
Sannyas Behera, who was turned down every time he applied for a government job, topped the list of visually-challenged candidates. Visually-impaired Sukanti Dash, who despite being a post graduate in history could not land a government job, too made it to the merit list.
So did Sasmita Kumari Jena, the daughter of a driver from Koratpur, who overcame her impairment.
The UPSC started allowing visually-impaired candidates to write the civil services examination in 2006. The Odisha Public Service Commission, however, did not care for them till 2015, when the Odisha HC, responding to a PIL, asked the examination panel to allow them.
This year, eight visually-impaired candidates managed to make it to the final list, passing through the rigours of the examination, making them eligible to join the government service as Class-I officials.“The feeling is nothing less than that of scaling the Mt Everest,” said Behera.
Dash, who took the help of audio books and a talking software to prepare for the exam, said, “I did not have the luxury of revising a chapter. So, I had to remember everything that I had listened from the audio book.”
It was also the maiden attempt for Jena, a 23-year-old post graduate student in Indira Gandhi National Open University.
“Though I have about 30% visibility, I could not look at books for more than a few hours. I had to depend on audio books. I had to work extra hard,” said Jena.