The boy with hearing-impairment who went on to become the Assistant Commissioner of Income Tax in Chennai

Shaik Shoeb

Shaik Shoeb

When their two-year-old son Shaik Shoeb was diagnosed with hearing loss, Ghouse Basha and Rajiya Begum relocated to Chennai from Nellore in search of a school. At that time, they had modest expectations from this move. In hindsight, that is the best decision they have ever taken on behalf of their son.

In May this year, Shoeb (28 years old now) assumed the position of Assistant Commissioner of Income Tax in Chennai, having cleared the UPSC in 2020 and completed his probation at National Academy of Direct Taxes, Nagpur as part of his IRS training.

“Balavidyalaya School for the Deaf brought us to the city as Shoeb was diagnosed with profound hearing loss and the necessary facilities were not found at our home town,” recalls Basha, a retired banker.

In three years, Shoeb was ready to join a regular 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 his potential.

“We had only this request at every institution he joined — allow him to sit in the first row with the teacher in the front,” says Basha, a resident of Perumbakkam.

In an email interaction, Shoeb says the support received at IIMB was top-notch. The institute had an Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI), which went the extra mile in providing him the necessary support.

“When I accepted the offer letter for admission to IIMB, ODI reached out to me even before I set foot in the campus, asking about my disability and what kind of accommodation I would need,” says Shoeb.

Inclusive environment

Meetings were scheduled with the professors before the start of every term to help maximise his learning and what they could do to make his experience better.

“This involved sharing class material beforehand so that I could follow the class discussion. The ODI also helped during the placement season by informing the companies beforehand about my disability. I got placed in Vodafone where I worked for two-and-half years. The ODI had an open door policy where anyone could walk into the office at any time to get any issue resolved,” says Shoeb.

The hand-holding provided by Balavidyalaya was immensely helpful, and besides all the teachers who crossed his path, he has special words of praise for “Saraswathi madam, Valli madam, Rajalakshmi madam” from the management.

“I remember doing really well after Balavidyalaya, when I joined a regular school from Class I onwards,” says Shoeb.

Shoeb notes he was fascinated with the civil services since childhood seeing newspaper articles highlighting the good work done by bureaucrats. An avid reader of The Hindu, Shoeb started by reading the Young World supplement. “By the time I was in Class IV, I used to read the entire paper,” he says.

Managing work

Shoeb is a typical millennial, at home in the online environment.

“I always make it a point to explain about my disability in the first introduction so that any doubts about my disability are cleared. My colleagues and higher officials have been encouraging. Within a couple of days, my colleagues can understand my speech clearly,” says Shoeb.

His advice to UPSC aspirants is that they should be honest and have faith in themselves. “Everyone is unique in their own distinct way.”

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Printable version | Jun 27, 2022 11:33:38 am |