Ira Singhal: UPSC Success Story

“This is my country and it is my responsibility to change it for the better.”

In this article, you can read all about how this gritty Delhiite became the IAS topper for 2014.

Ira Singhal’s statement after becoming the IAS topper for the year 2014 says it all. It was this lofty dream that motivated her to become AIR number 1 despite being physically challenged.

Singhal has scoliosis (curvature of the spine) that restricts her arm movement. That was her fourth attempt at the civil services exam.

She had previously written the exams in 2010, 2011 and 2013. In the first three attempts, she got into IRS.

She was even given a posting with the IRS (Indian Revenue Service) but was prevented from joining due to her 62 per cent locomotor disability.

Then she filed a case with the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) which she won. Then in 2014, she became the first physically challenged woman to get the first rank in the general category.

She never used her PH status for any reservation. She currently serves as the Assistant Collector (trainee) with the Government of Delhi. She was 31 when she got AIR number 1 in the UPSC civil services exam.

This shows how factors like age and disability are no barriers when it comes to the IAS dream. All it takes is hard work, single-minded determination, passion and fierce will never to give up.

UPSC Topper Ira Singhal Background

  • Singhal pursued her B.Tech from Netaji Subhas Institute of Technology, New Delhi and her MBA from Faculty of Management Studies, University of Delhi. She did her schooling from Sophia Girls School, Meerut and Loreto Convent School, Delhi.
  • She had previously worked with Cadbury India as a strategy manager and interned in marketing with the Coca Cola Company.

UPSC Exam Topper Strategy

Ira Singhal gives the following suggestions to UPSC civil services aspirants in writing answers.

  • Write answers in points wherever possible.
  • Underline what you feel is important.
  • Include diagrams if needed.
  • Attempt only those questions whose answers you are sure of. You cannot fool the examiner.
  • Don’t harp too much on the word count.
  • Use headings and subheadings if necessary.
  • Write grammatically correct sentences. Take care of your spelling. Write in simple language.
  • Read the NCERT textbooks multiple times. Download the NCERT books for UPSC exam at the linked article.
  • Focus on current affairs. You can get the daily current affairs for UPSC from this website.

Tips for GS IV

  • You need to understand that the ethics paper is about YOU. The exam is about your personality, your ethical code and your moral compass.
  • It is important to understand yourself while preparing for this paper. Self-analysis is important. If you have negative feelings about a certain person or event, try to analyse the root cause of that negativity. This will help you form your own ethical principles.
  • Generally, in the case studies, you are asked to provide options to individuals in the question who are facing an ethical dilemma.
  • For example, a typical case study would have a situation where a newly joined government employee faces an ethical dilemma on whether to continue in his job or not after witnessing habitual corruption in his office. You will be asked to provide the options before the individual and justify your choice.
  • First of all, while answering any such question, give all the options for the individual. Secondly, do a stakeholder analysis of the case, i.e., you should write the advantages and disadvantages of each option from the point of view of every stakeholder. Generally, the stakeholders are the individual, the organisation/department, the government and the society.
  • Finally, you have to choose your option and convince the examiner of your choice. Remember, you must choose the least selfish option for yourself.
  • Also, you must be able to give the justification for your choice that why your choice should be considered as the best choice.
  • In the ethics paper, there can be some case studies which pertain to certain gender issues or any other such sensitive issue.
  • These questions may get you excited and you may be tempted to answer them to put forth your views and opinions.
  • However, remember that your goal is to clear the UPSC civil services exam and not debate on the issue.
  • You never know what the personal biases of the examiners are, and so as a rule, it is better to steer clear of such emotive topics. Give priority to clearing the IAS exam.

You may also go through general tips for GS Paper IV here.

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