Punjab handicapped man is fourth in civil services

May 5th, 2009 - 12:23 am ICT by IANS  

By Alkesh Sharma
Chandigarh, May 4 (IANS) Hit by polio when just two, Varinder Kumar Sharma did not let his disability come in the way of his determination to reach for the skies. And on Monday, Sharma made his family and friends proud by coming fourth in the prestigious civil services examination.

With the first three positions being bagged by women, Sharma is now the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) topper in the boys’ category in the country.

Sharma got through the tough examination in his first attempt. Though he is overage for the UPSC at 35, Sharma was able to sit for the examination by appearing in the physically challenged category, for which rules are relaxed. But he came fourth in the general category.

“On hearing the results, I first said thanks to god for giving me the strength and courage to clear the exam in the very first attempt. I am also thankful to my parents and family members who expressed full faith in me and supported all my decisions,” an elated Sharma told IANS Monday evening.

Sharma said: “I had my schooling in a village primary school in Punjabi medium. Then I got admission in electrical engineering at the Punjab Engineering College (PEC) here and graduated from there in 1994.”

Sharma had chosen Punjabi literature and Sociology (Punjabi medium) subjects for his UPSC mains examination. He even gave his interview in Punjabi language.

“Members of my interview panel were very cooperative and friendly. They even arranged a translator for me,” pointed out Sharma.

“I had one thing very clear in mind that only clarity of thought and subject is not enough if I am not able to express myself properly. That is the reason why I chose Punjabi medium to appear in the exam and interview.”

Sharma’s family lives in Bhagsi village near Lalru town in Punjab, around 25 km from here. Both his parents are teachers in the village school.

His wife is also a school teacher and he had two daughters.

Speaking about his motivation to become an IAS officer, Sharma stated: “I had a childhood dream to become an SDO (sub-divisional officer), and luckily I cleared the entrance examination and I was deputed at the PSEB (Punjab State Electricity Board) in Bathinda in 1996.”

“In 2003, I cleared the PCS (Punjab Civil Services) exam and joined Punjab Food and Supplies Department as a district food and supplies officer. There I met Ajay Singh Sarao, my colleague, who influenced my life very much. He motivated me to give a try for the IAS exam,” said Sharma.

“Because I was older than the rules, I had to appear in the physically handicapped category. But due to god’s grace I was able to compete well with the general category students,” he said. Sharma walks with a limp due to his polio affliction and cannot run, he said.

Explaining his study module, he said: “I had made a proper timetable and religiously stuck to it. During the last two-three months, I devoted eight to 10 hours of studies daily. I had a firm belief in the fair administration system of our country that kept me going,” said Sharma.

He started preparing properly one year ago. “It was the new start of student life for me. I was staying in the PEC hostel while preparing for the exam. Now I am very anxious to meet my family,” said Sharma.

He attended coaching classes at the Abhimanu’s IAS Study Group here. Parveen Bansal, who runs the coaching centre, said: “Sharma was a very hard working and determined student and his goals were very clear in his mind. This year over 20 students of our institute have cleared this exam from Chandigarh.”

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