She could not see with her eyes but that did not stop her from visualizing a dream and working hard to make it come true.
Pranjal Patil, a 26-year-old visually-impaired Ulhasnagar resident, cleared the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) exams this year, getting an All-India ranking of 773.
Pranjal was just 6 years old when a student in her class hit one of her eyes with a pencil. After this, Pranjal lost vision in this eye. Doctors warned her parents that she might soon lose vision in the other eye too. And unfortunately, the warning proved to be right just after a year. But her parents never let her blindness come in the way of her education. They sent Pranjal to Smt. Kamla Mehta School for the Blind in Dadar, Mumbai. After passing Class 10 with flying colours, Pranjal also secured 85% in Class 12 and stood first in the Arts section of Chandibai College.
After this, she took admission in St. Xaviers College, Mumbai to do B.A.
“I used to travel everyday from Ulhasnagar to CST. Everyone used to help, sometimes to cross the road, sometimes to get into the train. But there were few who asked me why I was travelling alone so far and I should study in a college somewhere in Ulhasnagar itself. But I told them that I want to study only in this college and I am comfortable travelling every day for that,” Pranjal said .
While doing her graduation, Pranjal and one of her friends read an article about the Indian Administrative Services (IAS) for the first time. She started to develop an interest in taking this up for a career and learnt more about the UPSC entrance exams. A secret dream of becoming an IAS officer took seed. But she wanted to do her best in what she was already doing and hence kept postponing her plans for UPSC.
After finishing her graduation, Pranjal did her MA from JNU, Delhi.
She was now ready to start working on her dream career. Pranjal started preparing for UPSC in 2015, along with pursuing her degree in MPhil. Technology played a big role here. She installed software called Job Access with Speech (JAWS), a computer screen reader program that allows blind and visually impaired users to read the screen either with a text-to-speech output or with a Refreshable Braille display.
“It was a long process. I had to get the books, get them scanned and then use JAWS to listen to them. I couldn’t use those hand-written notes which saves time as JAWS only reads printed documents,” said Pranjal.
The next challenge was to find a writer who could match her speed. And Vidushi was the perfect answer. The main exam paper is three hours long. People who have to write it with the help of a writer get four hours to finish.
“I had perfect tuning with Vidushi. She would scold me if I slowed down in the exam. It was like I uttered a word and it was on paper,” said Pranjal.
Married to Komal Singh Patil, a cable operator from Ozharkheda, Pranjal gives the entire credit for her success to the immense support from her parents, friends and husband.
Pranjal said she is proud of the fact that she attempted each and every question and maintained its quality too in this challenging exam. And she did it without help from coaching classes.
“Study was never a problem for me as I enjoy studying and learning new things each day. But disciplined study was an issue and so I did not take any coaching but went for a test series that disciplined my preparations,” said Pranjal.
Although Pranjal does not know as yet where she will be posted, this brave lady is full of determination and wants to be an inspiring officer. She believes every single individual is important for the betterment of the nation. Pranjal is highly inspired by the writings of Daisaku Ikeda, a Buddhist philosopher from Japan. She reads him every single day and this helps her believe nothing is impossible for her.
“Success doesn’t give inspiration; the struggle behind success gives you the inspiration. But success is important because only then people will be interested to know your struggle. The attitude and the approach to do something matters and each individual can become a building block for a beautiful society,” she concludes.
We wish a great future for this brave girl.