Against all odds! Blind OAS officer makes an impression

Puri: Sanyasi Behera of Puri district had never thought that his life would turn out this way as he became the first 100% visually-impaired person from the state to join the elite Odisha Administrative service (OAS).

Despite all odds and after a prolonged legal battle, Sanyasi cracked the civil service examination conducted by the Odisha Public Service Commission (OPSC) in 2015.

After undergoing a four-month-training at the Gopabandhu Academy of Administration in Sambalpur, he has arrived at the Puri Collectorate for field training. He will be given training at the offices of Sub-Collector, PD DRDA and all other offices on the premises of the district Collectorate.

“We are very impressed with his achievement. Despite being completely visually-impaired and without any companion, he grasped everything during the training yesterday. I, on behalf of the district administration, congratulate, him for his achievement,” said an official of the district collectorate.

With cooperation from all, Sanyasi hopes to successfully complete his probation period at the Puri Collectorate and is ready to be inducted at any location across the state. However, Sanyasi went through various hurdles and legal battles before achieving this feat.

The visually-impaired man was disheartened when the OPSC came out with a rule disallowing disabled persons from appearing for the state civil service examinations.

“I had appealed the OPSC and Odisha Disability Commission to amend the rule. But they rejected my plea. In 2006, I filed a case with the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) but the case was not even listed for hearing for five years though I had hired experienced lawyers. Then I decided to fight for justice on my own and filed a PIL in the High Court in 2011.  The order came in 2014.”

Even after all this, when OPSC released its fresh advertisement in 2015; it had stated that persons with 100 percent blindness cannot sit for the exam. However, this did not stop Sanyasi from pursuing his goal. He again appealed before the State Commission for Persons With Disability that took his grievance with all seriousness though there was objection at high level initially.

Later, his appeal got approved by Chief Minister, after which the OPSC 1991 rules were amended that allowed visually-impaired persons to appear for the civil service examinations.

After all the legal battles and against all odds, Sanyashi Behera sat for the civil service exam in 2015 and qualified the test.

“Being an activist, I used to work in the daytime and prepare for exam in night. I didn’t have sufficient books and other study materials. My wife and daughter used to read out ink printed books for me. Only a few literature books were made available to me from the Library of Congress in Washington DC of the USA,” he said.

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