“Where there is a will there is a way.” This is how one can describe the struggling story of an IAS officer Krishna Gopal Tiwari, 29.
Up to his school life perhaps was he knowing that he would lose his vision in his youthful days although it sadly happened. He all of a sudden, in a short course of time lost his 75 per cent eyesight due to Retinitis Pigmentosa, a rare and incurable ailment at the age of just 20.
He was in college then, but that could not deter his spirit to move ahead with his life according to plan, and finally Krishna turned out to be India’s first IAS officer with 75 per cent visual deformity in 2008. He also happens to be the first person under the visually and physically challenged category, to make it under 250 i.e. 142nd rank in India’s premier civil services exams. Interestingly, he accomplished it without any formal coaching at the age of 26.
Krishna at present is a Madhya Pradesh-cadre IAS officer. Son of a minor farmer, Swami Nath Tiwari of nondescript Dasvanpur village in Ambedkar Nagar district of Uttar Pradesh, he defeated all adversities apart from battling his very personal deformity. He had to answer his papers with the help of two scribes provided by the Union Public Service Commission, as it is an arrangement in the case of visually challenged candidate.
“Although I didn’t have any problem in writing my civil service’s papers, as I used to do self during my school and college days with ease, difficulties started soaring during the last rung of my college days at Purvanchal University, Jaunpur,” Krishna says. Notwithstanding, he completed his masters in Economics from C.S.J.M. University, Kanpur writing self. It was during those days he realized the disease i.e. deterioration of his retinas that ultimately left him officially sightless.
Since eyeglasses were of no use to him, he used magnifying glasses to study in his early days of blindness but slowly he fed up with them. “My life was going all dark and I had nearly lost my hope to proceed further. But soon arrived four godsend saviour like friends, Pushpendra Kumar Sengar, Vikas Kumar Gupta, Amul Kumar and Ram Prakash Sahu, whom I befriended in Delhi, the Mecca of civil services exam preparations, who came to my rescue and brought a new ray of hope to my life. Besides aiming themselves for the civil services, they helped me in every possible way without any ego to accomplish my mission, of which I was very sure. Pushpendra, in particular, used to record his voice whatever he studied in my audio tape recorder, which I would listen to again and again while memorizing,” the officer recalls. Meanwhile, a major jolt struck me when Prakash died of electrocution at his native village. “I’ll never forget him, as he monetarily helped me as well. Whatever, I am today its credit goes to all of them and of course, my family,” he thanks.
Although he never took any coaching for the preliminary test (PT) and Mains rounds, for interview he got guidance from Santosh Taneja and Charanji Roy of ‘Samkalp’- a paying guest accommodation initiative of the RSS affiliated student wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). Says the genius, “Being a general category student, I had just one thing in mind to crack the civils in our limited four attempts. Fortunately, it went accordingly and I wrote Mains (subjective exam) twice. Finally in my third attempt, my childhood’s dream translated into reality with a whopping rank, which was a bit unexpected for me.”
He also attributes his success to the All India Radio (AIR) and British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). “I have been a keen listener to the news bulletins and talk-shows of the AIR and BBC since my childhood, which in return not only improved my general studies but also provoke a curiosity in me to do something exceptional,” Krishna states.
What made him to continue the idea of becoming an IAS officer? He says, “It is one of the few job-oriented examinations where percentage doesn’t matter. The best part is, despite being one of the toughest examinations of the world, the UPSC invites applicants of every stream to test the waters. Being an average, a poor or a bright student is not a big issue here.” Speaking about his success story, Krishna further states, “Though no one influenced me I got it as a challenge when my teachers and parents used to say that I would become an IAS someday. My interest gained momentum after my ‘masters degree’ when I qualified National Eligibility (NET) sharply missing the Junior Research Fellowship (JRF). Moreover, there was a healthy agreement at family front, between me and my elder brother, who too is a NET holder and teaches in a local college. He provided me financial support to move to Delhi for further studies.”
Meanwhile, a film-like climax trailed him till the last. In August 2008 after he cracked the ‘Civil Services Examination- 2007’, the Department of Personnel & Training told him he was not entitled to join the Indian Administrative Service on three counts: He would be unable to perform his duties as he could not see, he could not read or write and could not walk without help. Following this, Krishna protested, saying he was adept at handling computers and could walk in a secure area without help. Subsequently, the matter was referred to the medical board and the objections were waived. Soon, Tiwari was finally inducted into the civil services.