When their two-year-old son Shaik Shoeb was diagnosed with hearing loss, Ghouse Basha and Rajiya Begum moved to Chennai from Nellore in search of a school. At that time, they had modest expectations of this move. Looking back, it was the best decision they ever made on behalf of their son.
In May this year, Shoeb (now 28) assumed the post of Deputy Commissioner of Income Tax in Chennai, after passing UPSC in 2020 and completing his internship at the National Direct Tax Academy in Chennai. Nagpur as part of its IRS training.
“The Balavidyalaya School for the Deaf brought us to the city because Shoeb was diagnosed with profound hearing loss and the necessary facilities were not found in our hometown,” Basha, a retired banker, recalls.
Within three years, Shoeb was ready to join a mainstream school. With the support he received from his alma maters – St John’s English School and Junior College in Besant Nagar, College of Engineering, Guindy and later the Indian Institute of Management in Bengaluru – the “curious child” managed to live up to its potential.
“We only had this request in every school he joined – to allow him to sit in the front row with the teacher in the front,” says Perumbakkam resident Basha.
In an email interaction, Shoeb said the support received at the IIMB was top-notch. The institute had a Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) office, which went the extra mile to provide it with the necessary support.
“When I accepted the letter of offer of admission to IIMB, ODI contacted me before I even set foot on campus asking what my disability was and what type of accommodation what I would need,” says Shoeb.
Meetings were scheduled with the professors before the start of each term to help maximize his learning and what they could do to improve his experience.
“It involved sharing the class material beforehand so that I could follow the class discussion. The ODI also helped me during the placement season by informing the companies beforehand of my disability. I was placed at Vodafone where I worked for two and a half years. ODI had an open door policy where anyone could come into the office at any time to resolve any issue,” says Shoeb.
The onboarding provided by Balavidyalaya was extremely helpful, and in addition to all the teachers who crossed his path, he has special praise for “Madame Saraswathi, Madam Valli, Madam Rajalakshmi” from management.
“I remember I did very well after Balavidyalaya, when I joined a regular school from class I,” says Shoeb.
Shoeb notes that he was fascinated by public service since childhood when he saw newspaper articles highlighting the good work done by bureaucrats. An avid reader of The Hindu, Shoeb began by reading the Young World supplement. “By the time I was in Class IV, I was reading the whole newspaper,” he says.
Shoeb is a typical millennial, comfortable in the online environment.
“I always make it a point to explain my disability in the first introduction so that any doubts about my disability are dispelled. My colleagues and senior officials have been encouraging. Within days, my colleagues can understand my speech clearly,” says Shoeb .
His advice to aspiring UPSCs is that they should be honest and have confidence in themselves. “Everyone is unique in their own way.”