After the results got declared on April 5, Satender said, “For my parents, who really struggled through life undergoing multiple adversities, this was the best I could give them. Hearing them speak of my achievement with pride in their voices makes it all worth it.”
Satender lost his eyesight when he was administered wrong injection
Tragedy struck Satender, native of Amroha district in Uttar Pradesh, when he was given a wrong medication.
“When I was about just one and half years old, I was afflicted with pneumonia. My parents took me to a doctor, but at the local hospital, I was unfortunately given a wrong injection that severely damaged my retinal and optical nerves,” he told The Better India.
No facilities in small town, no one to guide him
During initial days, Satender would sit around for long learning everything that was taught in school.
“I wanted to prove that I could learn better than the children in my locality despite my limitations,” he said.
Coming from a farmers’ family, there were naturally no facilities in a small town, and none to guide him.
Then, one of his uncles came to his rescue.
Uncle enrolled Satender to Government School for Blind Boys
His uncle decided to enrol him in Government Senior Secondary School for Blind Boys in Delhi, where he experienced Braille language for the first time.
Satender said, “I recall practising on Taylor’s Frames for Mathematics, on which you make, feel and identify different numbers.”
Although he felt like going back home initially, with time he learned the skills and cleared Class XII in 2009.
Exemplary performance in school got Satender into St. Stephen’s College
Later, with exemplary marks in Class XII, he got himself enrolled into St. Stephen’s College’s BA program.
Coming from a Hindi medium school, he experienced language barrier in college.
However, with his determination, he mastered the art of English language in a year, and made an alien environment his own.
Meanwhile, he also started participating in extra-curricular activities in the college.
‘JNU taught me the value of tolerance’
Later, Satender got into Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) for an MPhil on International Relations.
He recalled, “Everyone, from a son of a rickshaw puller to those from elite families, was seen sitting together and discussing their ideas on the Indian democracy.”
“What JNU taught me was the value of tolerance and respecting the other despite my disagreements,” he added.
Satender: Wanted to prove physical limitations is never an obstruction
All his life, whenever people came to know about his disability, they would pity him.
After he enrolled for MPhil in JNU, he decided to break the prejudices and stop being an object of sympathy.
“By cracking the civil services exam, I wanted to prove that a body, with its physical limitations, is never an obstruction in the realization of your goals,” he said.
Satender’s first attempt was in 2016, which he didn’t clear
During the same time, he was also teaching at Sri Aurobindo College of Delhi University.
Satender’s first attempt to crack UPSC was in 2016, which he didn’t clear due to other academic commitments.
Later, a month before his Mains exam in 2017, he was badly affected by a severe intestinal infection leaving him weak and a long recovering time undid his preparations.
‘I didn’t think that I could embrace these hardships’
Talking about that low point in his life, Satender said, “At the time, I didn’t think that I could embrace these hardships. But I persevered, finishing my MPhil, and also starting my PhD from JNU, which focused on addressing issues of sovereignty in the cyberspace.”
Satender gives credit to his girlfriend for her support
However, in 2018 things changed and how. Satender cleared the UPSC exam.
He gives credit to his girlfriend, who wishes to remain unnamed, for keeping him away from stress.
“Though I was living in a hostel, she made sure that I ate well, stayed calm and composed. She supported me through all these hardships. I owe a great deal to her,” he added.