A genetic disorder leading to acute deafness never came in the way of 41-year-old Mewat additional deputy commissioner Maniram Sharma, who cleared the civil services exam at least thrice before being finally appointed as an IAS officer in 2009 after repeated rejections.
Hailing from a remote village in Alwar district of Rajasthan, Sharma came from a family where majority of them were illiterates. Sharma has been in government job for 20 years and an IAS officer for six.
Sharma was a normal child till he turned six and started having problems in hearing; by age 10 he suffered from acute deafness. Even his mother and two sisters were affected by it. A genetic disorder was passed on to Sharma from his maternal grandmother, who had turned deaf, and even his mother and two maternal uncles had also become deaf.
The disorder has also passed on to Sharma’s son and daughter who were normal till age five but later had a problem in hearing. His 16-year-old son has had a cochlear implant while the 13-year-old daughter uses a digital hearing aid.
Sharma, who himself underwent a cochlear implant in 2007, says, “I could never understand and till date am ignorant about how to tackle the genetic disorder which is affecting generations in our family.” Sharma comes from Badangarhi village in Alwar, where there are just 22 houses, and school is a distant dream owing to the scant population.
Sharma used to travel 5 km every day to school and ended up a gold medallist in political science honours from University of Rajasthan. He has done his MA, M Phil and Ph D in Indian party system and parliamentary democracy.
In his first attempt at the civil services exam, Sharma had secured the 27th rank but was not accommodated though there was 3% reservation for the disabled. Unfazed, Sharma again took the civil services exam in 2005 and got the rank 378. This time, he got a letter that there was a category of hearing impaired but only for the partially deaf not more than 70 decibel.
“I had acute loss of hearing, so my candidature stood cancelled again. Once again, I took the exam in 2007 and got the rank 728. Now I had a cochlear implant but was again rejected. Among the hearing impaired candidates, Sharma secured the highest marks.
He says, “The reason for my rejection this time was: I was not partially deaf, not completely deaf and not even normal. As per government hospitals, there was no provision on how to identify a person after cochlear implant.”
The matter went to the prime minister through whom his appointment was made. Sharma joined the IAS training academy in 2009.
“I am doing my job just like any other normal person, thanks to the people who contributed in getting me the cochlear implant. One should continue to strive hard in life and never give up,” he says.