Varinder Kumar Sharma, the fourth rank holder in the civil services examination this year, is delighted, but scared too.
For, the topper among male candidates this year is not still sure whether a childhood polio attack in his leg will block his joining the Indian Administrative Service (IAS).
“I am still afraid,” the 35-year-old told Hindustan Times amid celebrations at his house at Sangrur in Punjab. The government never made it clear whether it would accept disabled candidates in the IAS when it notified the 2008 examination.
Although the Disability Act of 1995 provides for 3 per cent reservation for the disabled, it stipulates that the government would first have to “identify” the jobs for them.
For nearly five years, the government did not “identify” any post. And when it did, it kept the premier services, such as the IAS and Indian Foreign Service (IFS), out of the reach of the disabled.
When Sharma applied for the 2008 civil services examination, the notification made it clear that there was no vacancy in the IFS for disabled candidates — irrespective of their performance in the exams.
“It is unfair”, said disabled rights activist Javed Abidi, who had approached both the Prime Minister’s Office and the judiciary to get justice for the disabled.
“A disabled candidate has to put in much more effort than others. But what does he do about the mental block in the government and society?” said Abidi.
Sharma, who stayed away from his wife and two children for several months to be able to focus on his studies, also speaks about the same “mental block” and the “social stigma”.
Sharing his success story with Hindustan Times, Sharma said he did his schooling in a village primary school in Punjabi medium.
Then he graduated from the Punjab Engineering College in 1994.
He said, “In 2003, I cleared the Punjab Civil Services exam and joined the food and civil supplies department as a district food and supplies officer.”