The Indian Foreign Service has taken revolutionary step by enlisting its first completely blind official, NL Beno Zephine, a 25-year-old literature graduate from Chennai.
On Friday, Beno was informed by the External Affairs Ministry that she had to report for duty within 60 days.
"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," Beno, a probationary officer with the State Bank of India, told The Times Of India.
"I am grateful that in order to give me the assignment, the central government has modified some parameters," she said.
Beno said her father, Luke Anthony Charles, a railways employee, and mother Mary Padmaja, a homemaker, have been a huge inspiration, TOI reported. "Parents, especially mother, read a lot of books and newspapers to me," she said.
Interestingly, Beno said that she had no role models but believed in her own individuality. "It is vitally important to discard disability from the mind," she said.
Former diplomat TP Sreenivasan credited the central government for taking a "generous view."
"It's a very forward-looking, generous view taken by the Centre. She (Beno) will have some difficulties, but having come so far, she will do extremely well," he said. "Also, field work that is usually important for IAS cadres is not required for IFS officers. They need to study, analyse and give guidance."
That could work for Beno who told TOI that she likes to talk - a lot.
"I like talking a lot and was active through school and college in debates and extempore competitions," she said.
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