"I'd like to change the state of women in this country.
"I'd like to make a world where people are only appreciated for their strengths and never discriminated based on their weakness.
"Differences between people should be celebrated and not judged!"
"My strength is that I am very very positive and I never compare myself to others.
Ira Singhal, the country's first differently-abled UPSC topper shares her secret to success and her big plans for India.
In an online chat with Rediff.com readers, UPSC topper Ira Singhal addressed queries on how to prepare for the UPSC exam and even shared her own strategies that helped her crack the coveted exam.
For those who missed the chat on July 27, here's the unedited transcript:
Haseeb KHAN: How will you tackle political pressure and systemic corruption??
Ira Singhal: I will try to stick my targets and do my best to achieve what my goals are :)
Nitin Agarwal: Do u think indian police have such like special power which we watch in indian and hollywood movies..what do u think abt this
Ira Singhal: Bollywood isn't really the best place to get ideas on how the country works!
vignesh lal: How will you cope / withstand the pressures of politicians? Any tactic in mind?
Ira Singhal: I haven't faced any pressures yet so I will cross that bridge when I come to it :)
omprakash bedua: Mam, why most of the bureaucrats are involved for making huge money. U can also see that happens in Madhya Pradesh.
Ira Singhal: I don't know! I think somewhere one loses the focus. I do think with the rise in salaries things will improve :)
venkyrao: Ira, in reply to your answer: That does'nt sound good enough.You are targeting only particular section of people.But any way I hope things would change if people like u are there in our government sector.All the Best :: Lets see the future progress card of Ira Singal
Ira Singhal: Sir, I shall obviously do whatever I am asked to do - which is basically everything that the Government needs done. I am sorry you don't approve of my special focus.
Nitin Agarwal: which is your best department in indian governence
Ira Singhal: There is no best department as such :)
shalini shukla: The first thing you want to change as an issue then what it will be?
Ira Singhal: Discrimination against differently-abled people in the selection procedure of the exam.
Vicky: Mam..now you have become IAS..but do you think that god forbid if you had not become IAS and would have remained IRS.
In that case your decision of leaving cadbury would have been wiser? Bcoz I believe when you leave a job like that you would NOT settle for anything less than IAS/IFS ?
Ira Singhal: Why not? As IRS also I got to serve my country!
omprakash bedua: Is there any solution to make India corruption free....
Ira Singhal: Yes...we all need to say no to it for ourselves. No to accepting and no to giving.
Abhishek Gupta: Ira ji, how did you celebrate and do you have addictions other than chocolate and movies???
Ira Singhal: I haven't yet celebrated!!! I have many other addictions! Makeup and perfumes and shoes and junk jewellery! and Travelling! and Books!
Ashok Soni: What is the basic mantra to crack IAS?
Ira Singhal: Keep your balance
venkyrao: Hi Ira,What are your future plans? How this position is going to help to achieve your future goals ?-Venkyrao
Ira Singhal: I wish to work for the upliftment of women and other weaker sections. This gives me a platform to do that.
shalini shukla: Mam what inspired you to move on always? And what imp quality should an IAS have?
Ira Singhal: Willingess to work!
ajeet kumar: Sometimes people say the Civil Services Pattern of India is not good and based on Colonial pattern and needs to be reformed.
For example, I read an article recently where they mentioned that IAS Officers should not be allowed to dominate other services.
The article said that specialists should be preferred and IAS Officers are not specialists. What is your opinion?
Ira Singhal: I have seen the importance of generalists....I don't see why anyone should dominate but the skills of generalist can be very vital to look at the larger picture sometimes!
shalini shukla: Mam the inspirational line and person. Who motivated you to always move on
Ira Singhal: My parents and all my friends
saree cafee: [SKB] Don't you think that clearing exam is just like opening of the war-gate...real war lies ahead? against corruption, poverty,system failure...!!!
Ira Singhal: Yes exactly! That is what I have been saying in all my interviews!
This is not my success! I havent achieved anything! What I do from here on out is what my achievement will be! By getting here, I have just gotten the opportunity to do what I want to!
RadhaKrishan Roy: hye ira will you pls tell me how can I keep my focus of UPSC exam I am not studying at all I am losing interest on studies but I still want to clear UPSC will you help me
Ira Singhal: You are losing focus because you dont want it bad enough!
ranesh-kumar: Congrats Ira. What do you want to do for the betterment of women and under-privileged?
Ira Singhal: Ensure they have all the opportunities they need to grow and achieve their potential. And help give them self-confidence and any kind of infrastructural support they need!
Rohit Prajapati: Hello, I am from Gujarat, Rohit Prajapati My BEST wishes will always be with you. Truly..Thanx for your time for interaction.
What will be dream from India ?
What you think about corruption in India?
Ira Singhal: Corruption needs to be uprooted at the basic level...we even bribe our Gods in temples!
Vicky: Mam, cadbury is a dream job at FMS campus. Hats off to you for leaving it but what did really hit you that made you quit a 20 lakhs per annum job and not thinking about it ever again despite 5-year struggle?
Ira Singhal: Mainly because I realised I wanted to leave behind a legacy of more than what I was doing!
Money has never mattered to me or attracted me! Don't get me wrong, I enjoy having money to spend (I am girl! we love shopping!!) but it is not something I focus on too much!
Abhishek Gupta: Ira ji, how do you motivate yourself and push yourslf forward despite of fears?
Ira Singhal: I try to do my best and leave the rest to fate!
arun mishra: Hi Ira, this may be a girly question but when are planning to get married???
Ira Singhal: As soon as I can find someone and as soon as I have the time!
Anil Raghuwanshi: In spite of our more than 65 years independence and lot of contribution of IAS officers and other officers for the country in these years we are still lagging in development as far as China is concern, what reason you are looking far?
Ira Singhal: China also took away quite a few of people's freedom! Is that a society you want?
vinod pandey: What you feel...that Indian Constitution is really having fundamental guidance to run good/ future India...do you feel this has lost its practical existence in past 50 years and many problems exist due to its non clarity..i.e. it is bulky but not exact....
Ira Singhal: Sir, we are still a working democracy aren't we? so it can't possibly be that unclear!
KARTIKEY DWIVEDI: I am sure that this Country will surely be proud to have an officer like you.
Do you give credit to god's grace for your achievement or you think it's solely your hard work..what would you recommend in nutshell for a beginner to prepare and succeed in Civil Services??
Ira Singhal: I think any competitive exam is 50 per cent God's grace and 50 per cent effort with a little bit of talent and skill thrown in!
Abhishek Gupta: Ira ji, what do you think when you look such a huge crowd with similar ambition??
Ira Singhal: I hope that they want to do it for the right reasons and not for ego-satisfaction!
Vicky: Congrats Mam. I am also an FMS Alum.
I have two questions for you:i) Why did you not go back to private sector job while your court case was on ?ii) Why did you not opt for Management optional?
I am currently working at Citi and am really confused if I should quit my job for prep... any suggestion would be helpful?
Ira Singhal: I didn't go back to private sector because I knew I would win the court case and I didn't want to quit another company again.
I didn't take management because there was not enough material available on it.
HareKrishnaSingh: What's your opinion about difference of income in our progressive society?
Ira Singhal: Difference of income will generally always stay because it comes from variations in the use of talent. But it should only be based on the use of talent and nothing else. And as government our job is to see that it is to the benefit of everyone.
ramesh s: Hi Ira,Congrats. IAS - Power and Status. Since our country is still ruled by the Politicians , do you think talents like you can do something for the betterment of the society in real time
Ira Singhal: Yes I do believe we can. I wouldn't be here otherwise!
Tushar Sharad Dandwekar: Hi Ira,Congratulations ! what you think about corruption in India .
Ira Singhal: Corruption is something that is rooted in every part of our society! We even offer bribes to Gods!
SURESH VS: Hi Ira, Congratulations and I must record that you are the role model for my two daughters!!Wish you many more success aheadBest wishes
Ira Singhal: Thank you
tirtharupa-das: Madam what is your strength and weakness?
Ira Singhal: My strength is that I am very very positive and I never compare myself to others and my weakness is that I get addicted to things...like a movie or a song or eating chocolates etc!
Ajit: Hi Ira congratulations for your success.
Ira Singhal: thanks!
rina: My BEST wishes will always be with you.. Truly..Thanx for your time for interaction.
Ira Singhal: It's my pleasure :)
Roshan Parkar: Congratulations Ira. You make us all proud. Wanted to ask you, when you become an IAS officer, what are the changes you would like to bring in our country. Eager to know that!
Ira Singhal: I'd like to change the state of women in this country. And I'd like to make a world where people are only appreciated for their strengths and never discriminated based on their weakness.
Differences between people should be celebrated and not judged! I will work for a truly Inclusive India
suresh pawar: How a fresher has to start for upsc?
Ira Singhal: Please refer to my blog! http://irasinghal.blogspot.in/
Arvind Irani: What are the three things about India you are proud of?
Ira Singhal: Everything! I love India!
Rohit Tripathy: Hello Ira, many congratulations. Do you have any good ideas about are you going to manage work life balance. Any strategy to handle personal stress ?
Ira Singhal: Actually sir, I tend to enjoy my work so much that I don't get stressed. And if ever I am stressed, I ask myself, what is the worst that could happen and then analyse if it will be so bad!
rina: Do you have preference in terms of nature-of-job, within the ambit of IAS-services? Any preference as to what kind of IAS assignment would u like the most?
Ira Singhal: Sir, for now I am looking forward to doing any job that I am given
Simon Xavier: Dear Ira Mam, who are the IAS officers you admire in India?
Ira Singhal: There are so many to admire! they are the reason our country has progressed this much!
CHIDAMBARARAJ T: Congratulations Ira. As a IAS, what changes would you like to bring in near future and in 10 years from now. Mainly what is the expectation from us the citizens, thank you.
Ira Singhal: Sir, I'd like to change the state of women in this country. And I'd like to make a world where people are only appreciated for their strengths and never discriminated based on their weakness.
Differences between people should be celebrated and not judged!
Jaipal Sahani: Hi Ira, what is your advice on dealing with failures and challenges in life?
Ira Singhal: Failure is only something you think of as failure.
It could also be classified as "learning experience".
I think we all need to make our approach more positive. As far as challenges go, they are what makes life exciting!
sumeet diwate: Hi, congratulations for your success ....
Ira Singhal: Thanks Sumeet!
Shruti: Hi Ira,Congratulations !My question is ... do you think it would be easy to work with seniors in your service but not so much with politicians ??
Ira Singhal: I think it is easy to work with anyone as long as both sides are willing! We can all get along if we want to!
arun mishra: What keys tips would you like to give a mediocre student to clear UPSC exam?
Ira Singhal: There is no 'mediocre'! If you think that, you wont clear! Think you are good and then start studying!
Abhishek Gupta: Congratulations Iraji, my roommate is preparing for upsc, though I am a fan of his ambition so how as a roommate I can contribute to his preparation??
I am doing my engineering.
Ira Singhal: Please try to keep him positive. Discuss issues with him so that he gets a different viewpoint. And keep helping him believe in himself! How wonderful of you to want to do this!
adesh kaushik: Hi Era .. a heartfull best wishes for grand success. What was your subject and plan of study for this exam
Ira Singhal: Hi! My optional was Geography. I have mentioned everything about studying for the exam in blog post...please refer to that.
Atul Borade: Ira Thank you very much for responding.
It's really a heartening to see that you are responding to each question with zeal and zest. I WISH YOU ALL THE BEST FOR YOUR FUTURE. Be blessed!!!!
Ira Singhal: Thank you so much :)
srikanth kly: Hi Ira, my daughter decided to become an IAS after watching your interview. She in fact wants to meet you :). She is 9 years old. Any suggestions for her?Thanks,Srikanth K L Y
Ira Singhal: Tell her to first get a very good education, find a good job and then see if she still wants to be an IAS.
If she does, then she should give it her best shot and I am sure she will ace it!
Adnan Chogle: What books do you read?
Ira Singhal: I read mainly fiction
Anupam Gupta: Who inspires you?
Ira Singhal: I take inspiration from everyone I see around me.
My mother for being one of the most-hardworking people ever, my father for being so forward-thinking and his never-say-die attitude, my friends for their easy acceptance of me...and every person I see dealing with the challenges their life has been!
tirtharupa-das: Hi Ira, am proud of you in fact India proud of you.
You prove that everything is possible if you have the passion and desire to achieve the goal.
One question what you will say to those people who fell that they cant do anything or they an unable and they are different from others?
Ira Singhal: Everyone is different! God did not make photocopies. So if you can't do something, maybe you didn't try hard enough or maybe you are meant to do something else. We all have something special in us, we just need to find it out and build on it!
I can't climb a mountain but I can study so I focused on that, similarly someone else can do something else better, so they should focus on that!
Vinit Araj: In your opinion what are the 3 things required to top the IAS?
Ira Singhal: Honesty, Sincerity and Dedication without distraction.
navdeep: First of all congratulations to you! My daughter is 9th class and my son is 6th class. Both of them very good student.
I want that they will also become IAS. What should I do? Write me please.
Ira Singhal: Please let your daughters grow up and choose their own path!
My parents were very liberal with me and never forced their dreams on me...and I am so thankful for that!
I hope you let them grow up and be whoever they want to be! IAS is not the only way to make an impact on society!
Atul Borade: Hello Ira. Congratulations ! Do you have any road map to combat corruption?
Ira Singhal: I will deal with it as and when I face it :) Can't make plans for something I can't see.
Ravi Sankar Chandu: If you go straight ,u willbe suspended If do not go, u will be corrupt if u do bit this and bit that u become cabinet secretary!!!!what u want to become.....bits and pieces?
Ira Singhal: Sir, I don't want to become Cabinet Secretary. I am too old for that. I just want to leave an impact with my work and that is what I shall try to do.
rina: Thanx for prompt reply. Do u think - IF THE NEED BE, u can be high-handed / tough / forceful to get RIGHT things done, which r in the larger interest of the society?
I personally have high hopes from you, especially after seeing your interview@urhome on ndtv.
Ira Singhal: Yes I can. I have been given an opportunity to change and improve a lot of things. I am going to try my level-best to do that :)
jayanta chatterjee: Hi, I am J.K.Chatterjee. How you define your life now and when start preparing for this exam. What is the most important things for you.
Ira Singhal: I don't see much changes except I am a lot of busy these days and a lot more people know me now!
I am still the same. My career goals still stay the same and I still have the same enthusiasm and energy to pursue them. To me the most important thing is to be honest with myself and stay with my beliefs!
RAMESH: Hi Era..heartiest congrats..And hope will contribute your efforts for society as usual top class!
Ira Singhal: thanks!
Pramod-Patil: Hiii...Ira mam myself Meena frm mum (malad) my daughter is having Scoliosis at 60 degree curve by birth ..she is 13th yrs old her height is 5 feet 3 inch...now doctor has suggest to do surgery. Mam should we go for sugery or can wait for sometime...
Ira Singhal: I have seen some success cases of surgery but I have also seen some cases where the person is now paralysed.
I don't know what is the right way forward.
My parents did not want to risk it, so they didnt make me have it. Best of luck with your daughter!
Please remember with or without surgery, she is still capable of everything!
RAMESH: Hi ..Era ..What a great success .. Hope your contribution as an IAS will also top class.. keep it up ..
Ira Singhal: thank you.
gnyaneshwar sallakonda gnyaneshwar: Hearty congratulations on your achievements.
Madam one thing you should remember that always try to help poor people of the Country. We know that political parties never help. Therefore, while discharging your duties remember the point and help genuine persons. S.Gnyaneshwar
Ira Singhal: Yes Sir, I will try.
rina: At the onset, many congrats to you. My question -- why do you think the IASes despite being hardworking, intelligent and empowered enough, are not able to make a meaningful difference to the life of a commoner ?
Ira Singhal: I think there are a lot of infrastructure problems to begin with. And from the base that they have to start with, incremental changes are what they can look at.
I do believe that the officers have made a huge difference, it is just not that visible to you because it is so scattered!
Shashidhar: Dear Ira, thank you for the blog, but there seems to be many fake accounts of yours on the FB. Hope you keep your blog active for days to come. All d Best!
Ira Singhal: Yes I will. I have sent a request to facebook regarding fake accounts but nothing seems to be done.
padma choudhary: I seen a post of marks of toppers ,there are a big difference in interview marks of first and second rank. Any comment for it Madam.
Ira Singhal : You will have to ask the interviewers!
PriyaHere: Hi Ira, heard that you are into tarot reading. What attracts you to the unknown?
Ira Singhal: I like exploring the mysteries and finding out the logic behind things. I feel like everything has a rationale of why it works and I delve in to find it out :)
abdul qadir: Hearty congrats and best wishes for your future endeavours.
Ira Singhal: thank you so much!
Balaji Anamalagundam: Hearty congratulations and request you to work for down ridden people of our country
Ira Singhal: I will try my best
shrikant wagh: Madam,I want to share one thing.Last year I caught one civil servant taking bribe with the help pf ACB,maharashtra.In that case,only 10 per cent people support me and 90% saying that,you done wrong thing. What u will say on this?
Ira Singhal: Bribing is a terrible menace in our society! I hope more people take a stand against it.
neetu chaubey: Please share your experience on your Stage III: Personality Test
Ira Singhal: It was a different experience every time based on the interviewer.
naina gupta: What are the educational qualifications required for this examination?
Ira Singhal: Graduation. A lot of people come after Masters currently though.
Nihar Barik: Congrats mam, you are the jewel of your parents and also our Bharat Mata. You are the example of youngsters i.e. hard work is the key of success.
Ira Singhal: Thank you!
naina gupta: Ira, when you got the results, how did you feel? Were you shocked, surprised or just happy?
Ira Singhal: Well I had known that I would get a rank but not rank 1! So it was a lot of surprise and disbelief!
Saurav Goswami: Hearty congratulations Ira. What was your parents' reaction when they heard the news?
Ira Singhal: They were extremely happy!
neetu chaubey: Congrats Ira. Can you tell us why you appeared for UPSC again?
Ira Singhal: I appeared because I had nothing else to do as I was waiting for my court judgement. Plus I had not yet gotten the job I had originally wanted.
For more tips on how Ira Singhal cracked the UPSC exam, you may visit her blog irasinghal.blogspot.in