10 Life Lessons To Learn From Beno Zephine: The First Visually Challenged IFS Officer

Beno Zephine

“To see a world in a grain of sand

And a heaven in a wild flower,

Hold infinity in the palm of your hand

And eternity in an hour.”

– William Blake

The aforesaid quotation beautifully summarizes that everything is possible in life, if you have the vision to make a difference and well, here, we have a live example of Beno Zephine with us, the first ever visually impaired IFS(Indian Foreign Service) officer who was informed about her success on 12th of June, 2015 by the government of India. She is the first ever 100% visually impaired candidate who was recruited for the IFS. Usually, only candidates with 20:20 vision are selected but her hard work and dedication made her an exception and she was allowed to be a part of the 69 year old service.

Here are a few life-lessons to learn from Beno Zephine:

1. Life is about forging ahead, not about moon walking to the past.

Beno Zephine is the first 100% visually impaired officer in Indian Foreign Service and she never looked back in her life or craved about her visual impairment, rather she drew strength from it and marched forward towards her goal.

2. You can achieve your goals, if you stay focused.

Beno is one of the 100 plus candidates from Tamil Nadu who made it to the civil services this year. It wouldn’t have been impossible without a clear mind and strong focus.

3. Nothing is impossible. So, do not fear in trying new things.  

She achieved 343rd rank in Civil Service Examination despite being 100% visually impaired. That speaks pretty much about how she focused on the word ‘impossible’ as the word itself says I-M- Possible and followed the same till she achieved her goal.

4. Do not let yourself feel down because of the complexities of life, face them and achieve your dreams.

Her hard work and patience says it all. She must have faced certain difficulties in her life, especially because she was visually impaired and things would have been much more complex for her than any normal person and yet she created history. That is the kind of attitude one requires to fulfill his dream.

5. Where there’s a will there is a way. You can always manage things if you really  want to achieve your goals. So stop cribbing about the constraints in your life and start looking at the brighter side.

She is a post graduate in English from Madras University. While preparing for a PhD in English literature, she was also working as a probationary officer in SBI.

She said “I learnt to balance both and understood how to use my time efficiently in the process.”  She took the plunge and rest is history.

6.  Think big and make yourself different from others to stand out of the crowd.

She got selected for IFS because of her keen interest in the post. Others like Sujitha from Chennai and Krishna Gopal Tiwari from Varanasi have made it to the IAS cadre, despite visual disabilities. Experts said that the uniformed services are, otherwise, closed to people with disabilities. These few were the exceptions for the same. They basically achieved the impossible.

7. Never say “I can’t because ….” Try finding alternatives to your problems and work on them.

Beno transcended her dependence on Braille books by switching to Job Access with Speech (JAWS),  a software that allows visually challenged to read from a computer screen in order to learn. The software can also be adapted to a smart phone. “Parents, especially mother, read a lot of books and newspapers to me,” she said.

8. Don’t stop chasing your dreams unless you achieve them.

Because you never know how close you are. She got cleared IAS cadre in 2013 but she waited for till June, 12th, 2015 for her  posting confirmation in IFS.

Former diplomats have backed this decision as many deserving and promising candidates lost out on the opportunity due to a lack of 20:20 vision but Zephine showed her keen interest in Indian Foreign Service and that’s what she had in the end. Mr. Singh, who took over the charge of the Ministry, recalled how last year, the department was confronted with the case of a visually challenged candidate who made it to the merit list of the Civil Services Examination by securing the 343rd rank and was keen on taking up the Indian Foreign Service, notwithstanding the government rules. He said it was Ms. Zephine’s determination which inspired him and his colleagues in the Ministry to take up her case and find her a befitting slot.

9. Always remember who you are and people who taught you how to stand on your feet as they’re the ones who stood by you while you were struggling to make your way through the difficulties.

When Beno was asked about her success and people responsible for it, she said, “Either you mention the names of all the people and institutes who have encouraged and supported me, or don’t publish any.” She names Manidhaneyan, Smart, Ganesh, Shankar and Time institute that  helped her achieve her dreams. “It is vitally important to discard disability from the mind,” she said.

10. You’re never late to start new things, every day can kick start a new phase of life.

Zephine’s concern over issues that matter in daily life,even as basic as saving water, turned out to be her inspiration to give a shot at public service commission exams.

There are lot more facts about her from which you can draw a lot of inspiration. When she can achieve her goals within these circumstances, we sure can do a lot better. Get inspired because life is worth living for others and to serve the nation.





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