UPSC conducts arguably the toughest exams in India. While many find it hard to crack the exam in several attempts, Madhya Pradesh’s Shreya Rai has cleared the exam twice. Unhappy with her rank in the first attempt, the 25-year-old appeared for the UPSC Indian Engineering Services (IES) again in 2020 to obtain the 60th all-India rank, and top among the hearing-impaired category.
This, however, is not her first feat. Shreya has already cleared recruitment exams for Coal India, Nuclear Power Corporation, and Power Grid of India. Despite clearing several coveted government sector jobs, Shreya aspired to clear the UPSC exam as she wanted to become a collector.
Despite being hearing and speech impaired, Shreya has been a dedicated learner. She can only hear high-frequency sounds like firecrackers and pressure horns.
Her parents had realized her physical constraints when she was only 1.5 years old. Her parents wanted to offer her a “normal childhood and not let her feel inferior". Shreya was not enrolled to a special school and was admitted to Chinmay Mission School which is a mainstream school in Madhya Pradesh.
Her parents recall that it was a challenge to get a seat for her in BE in Indore. Her friends helped her at every step by offering her notes and IAS officer uncle Shashwat Rai and another IAS officer Surabhi Gautam also helped Shreya in preparing for IAS.
Shreya is a native of the Satna district in Madhya Pradesh and hails from a middle-class family. Shreya’s mother Anshu Rai is vice-principal in a private school while her father Sanjay deals in the stock market. Shreya has a younger brother Shivansh who is studying in class 8 and wishes to become a scientist.
The 25-year-old claims to have studied 16 hours a day for UPSC exam which finally paid off. Shreya’s UPSC interview round was unique as the board of interviewers asked questions which were displayed on a big screen and Shreya also replied by typing the answers which were shown on the screen.
Apart from academics, drawing and classical dance also interests Shreya.
— With inputs from Shivendra Baghel