One common cause unites the all-India civil services aspirants who attend weekly classes at a coaching centre in Aathikulam in the city. “They are differently abled or come from families where the parents or other members are physically challenged,” said S. Ramakrishnan, retired Regional Joint Director of Animal Husbandry Department.

“The centre was started by former District Collector U. Sagayam, and currently functions with the help of a Chennai-based non-governmental organisation and provides free coaching for the exams. Our aim is to see a differently abled person from the district become a Collector,” he said.

The centre has 10 aspirants attending the coaching classes at weekends. The aspirants say they hope to make it to a high post in the government to bring to light the challenges faced by the differently abled and offer solutions to them. “There is so much that needs to be done to improve the facilities for the differently abled. It is a challenge for me to catch a train or board a bus, and I have to take the help of a friend or a family member and can never travel anywhere on my own,” says K. Pandidurai, a history graduate who is preparing for the civil services examination.

S. Nagarajan, an M.Com graduate who is currently on a temporary job in the government, says he wants to make the schemes meant for the physically challenged easily accessible to them.

“Even getting an identity card has become tough for us. Not all of us are able to get vehicles or other benefits due for various categories based on the extent of the disability we are slotted in,” he adds.

The centre, which has been functioning for the last four years at Veera Pulavar Colony, had three trainees who cleared the examination conducted by TNSPC to become Village Administrative Officers. The aspirants say the success stories of visually challenged persons clearing the TNPSC exams during the last few years have also motivated them. “We need to be a source of motivation for other physically challenged persons,” says Sharmila Bhanu, a differently abled aspirant.

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