Christian Woman Becomes the First Fully Blind IFS Officer

Published 18 June 2015  |  
The first 100 percent visually-challenged Indian Foreign Service (IFS) Officer Miss BL Beno Zephine with her jubilant parents Luke Anthony Charles and Mary Padmaja at their residence in Chennai.

Miss NL Beno Zephine of Chennai becomes the first 100 percent visually-impaired officer in the coveted Indian Foreign Service (IFS) one year after the government made way for her.

The 25-year-old Miss Zephine is the daughter of Luke Anthony Charles, an employee of the Indian Railways and Mary Padmaja, a housewife from Chennai, Tamil Nadu.

She had secured 343rd rank in the final result of the Civil Services Examinations conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) a year earlier.

Last week she was informed by the Central government to report within 60 days. She had to wait a year to enroll into the foreign service as the government had to change the rule to accomodate fully-impaired person to the service. Earlier, none of the 100 percent virtually impaired had been selected, and this is the first time such person has been appointed to the service.

Upon hearing the news Miss Zephine said: "I am really thankful to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for taking this big decision. I am told the IFS was not identified for the blind with certain exceptions made for candidates with low vision."

Besides the PM, she thanked Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Central Ministers Jitendra Singh (PMO) and Pon Radhakrishnan, among others.

She also thanked her employer SBI and Boominathan of the academy where she undertook coaching for civil service examination.

Miss Zephine did her graduation from the Loyola College in the city in English and also did her Master's degree in English literature. She is currently working as a Probationary Officer with State Bank of India and simulteneously pursuing a Ph.D degree in English literature.

According to Miss Zephine she taught herself using the Job Access with Speech (JAWS), a software that allows the visually challenged to read from a computer screen and many texts from various sources were scanned and she read many of them. However, she also said that it was her mother who read newspapers and textbooks for her which made her study much easier.

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