Ira Singhal is an Indian civil servant of the 2015 batch. She topped the UPSC CSE 2014 (Union Public Service Commission Civil Service Examination) and became the first differently-abled woman to top the civil services exam in the general category.
Ira Singhal was born on Wednesday, 31 August 1983 (age 40 years; as of 2023) in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, India. Her zodiac sign is Virgo. Ira attended Sophia Girls’ School in Meerut Cantonment from 6th to 8th grade, Loreto Convent School in Delhi Cantonment for 9th and 10th grade, and Army Public School in Delhi Cantonment for 11th and 12th grade. In 2006, Ira pursued a Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Sciences at Netaji Subhas Institute of Technology (now Netaji Subhas University of Technology NSUT) in Dwarka, New Delhi. She then completed an MBA in Finance and Marketing at the Faculty of Management Studies in Delhi. In 2017, Ira obtained a Master’s degree in Public Policy from Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi.
Height (approx.): 4′ 5″
Weight (approx.): 45 kg
Hair Colour: Black
Eye Colour: Black
Ira Singhal belongs to a Baniya family.
Parents & Siblings
Ira Singhal’s father’s name is Rajendra Singhal and her mother’s is Anita Singhal. Her father is an engineer and a businessman; he is a member of the Delhi District Cricket Association and a board member of Patanjali Yogpeeth. Ira’s mother is an insurance advisor. Ira is the single child of her parents.
Ira Singhal is unmarried.
In 2007, Ira Singhal started her career as a marketing intern at the Coca-Cola Company. In June 2008, she joined Cadbury India Limited as a Customer Developer Manager and worked there for two years. In November 2011, Ira joined an institute in Safdarjung Enclave, New Delhi, to teach Spanish and English. She worked there for a year till December 2012.
Ira Singhal gave her first attempt in 2010 and cleared the exam by securing the 815th rank. She got into Indian Revenue Services (IRS) but was refused a posting because of her disability. Ira has Scoliosis, a spinal deformity which restricts her arm movement. Authorities cited her 62% locomotor disability and inability to push, pull and lift as a reason to cancel her candidature. In an interview, recalling the 2010 episode Ira said,
It was a big disappointment, a major setback then. But I decided to fight back. It was tough initially as I had to undergo tests, submit medical certificates and prove that I am capable of doing jobs entrusted to me in the IRS. For two years, it was tough but then everyone realised that I am capable of working in spite of the disabilities. They realised I am no pushover.” The Indian Express
Ira decided to challenge the decision and filed a case in the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT); after 4 years, in 2014, CAT ruled in her favour and she was appointed as an Assistant Commissioner in Faridabad, Haryana, by the Customs & Central Excise Department (C&CE) of the Indian Revenue Services (IRS).
Ira appeared in 2011, 2013, and 2014 Civil Service Examinations to improve her rank. However, she got IRS in both attempts of 2011 and 2013 but in the 2014 attempt, she got the first rank and became the first disabled woman to get a first rank in Civil Service Examination in the general category.
Elated with her success, Ira said in an interview,
I am thrilled, excited and very, very happy. It is a dream come true. I expected to do very well but did not expect to top it. My friend, an IAS officer here, gave me the good news first. I want to become an IAS officer and work in the field of women and child welfare, development and empowerment. I want to contribute to the uplift of the differently abled and make their lives easier. Differently-abled people struggle, face difficulties every day and have to go the extra mile to do anything on their own.” The Hindu
Ira was allotted the AGMUT (Arunachal Pradesh-Goa-Mizoram and Union Territory) Cadre and after completing the two years officer’s training, in October 2017, she got her first posting as Sub-Divisional Magistrate of the Government of National Capital Territory (NCT) New Delhi. Ira served the Indian government in different capacities including Deputy Commissioner of Karol Bagh Zone, Director of New Delhi Municipal Commission, and Joint Director of the Department of Women and Child Development.
In February 2023, Ira was appointed as Special Secretary of Education in Arunachal Pradesh.
Ira Singhal left her corporate job to prepare for the civil service examination. She defied the rule of studying for a fixed number of hours and chose to complete the topics. She enrolled in a CSE coaching program for the first attempt in 2009-10 but after that, she relied on self-study and referred to various online materials to get different perspectives on a particular topic. She hardly made any notes as she believed in revising a book multiple times and learning to read it in an analytical way for e.g., she referred to around 35-40 books to prepare for her optional subject Geography. Byjus
Awards, Honours, Achievements
- India Today Woman of The Year 2015 by India Today Group
- President’s Gold Medal 2015 for Best Officer Trainee of IAS Professional Course (Phase-1)
- Achiever’s Award 2019 by NRI Achiever
- Rashtriya Prernadoot Award 2019 by Ladli Foundation
- Indira Award 2022-23 by Indira Institute of Management Pune, Maharashtra
- Desert: Chocolate
- Sports: Football
- Player: Lionel Messi
- Writer: Shakespeare
- Ira gave a Ted Talk on 10 April 2018 TedX Talk addressing the virtue of social equality. YouTube – TEDx Talks
- She has participated in various seminars and summits to address topics related to women’s empowerment, education, and differently-abled people’s rights.
- Once Ira experienced a curfew in Meerut. She saw how a district collector manages a district even in tough times. This incident inspired Ira to become an IAS officer.
- She was an innocent child who never disturbed her parents. Patience and calmness are the qualities she possesses.
- Once she was declined admission to a school because of her disability and the school administrator told her father to enroll her in a school for specially-abled children.
- Ira was a class topper in Sophia Girls’ School Meerut, as well as in Loreto Convent School Delhi.
- She follows a vegetarian diet.
- Ira’s hobbies are reading and travelling. She often shares pictures of her trips on her social media accounts. Her favourite genre is crime, mystery fiction, and romance.
- She is the first government official who gave a full-time job to two transgender people in her office as a receptionist. The Times of India