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Haryana’s First Woman Chief Secretary Meenakshi Anand Chaudhary On How To Make A Successful Career In Civil Services

  • IWB Post
  •  July 11, 2019

For public servants all over the world, a combination of hard work, commitment, maximizing strengths and minimizing weakness are some of the essential characteristics that one must possess to be successful in retaining the public’s trust. And in one family these characteristics were found in three sisters who had a burning desire to serve the people of their country.

The first one who made it to the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and joined the Haryana cadre was Meenakshi Anand Chaudhary from Chandigarh who credits her administrative acumen to her father, the late science professor JC Anand. “My father led by example. He was a disciplinarian. I learnt that if principles and values are in place, it is easy to administer,” she shared.

However, being able to pursue her dream of civil services was only came true through the support she received from her mother, Savitri Anand, who had a flair for languages and neat handwriting. “She stood her ground that I should not be married off after graduation. She was keen that all three daughters be educated and economically independent. Her balanced approach was inspiring.”

Following in her footsteps were her two sisters Urvashi Gulati, who also went on to become the chief secretary of Haryana, and Keshni Anand Arora, who could be next in line.

Mrs. Meenakshi’s dedication culminated in her appointment as the first woman chief secretary of Haryana, before which she served as the Indian Government’s Secretary of Sports and Youth Affairs, where she played a pivotal role in developing sports infrastructure across the country.

Talking about the hard work that goes in the preparation for making a career in the civil services, Mrs. Meenakshi shared, “The syllabus is vast and to go deep, one needs to be focused. Good writing skills help.” And in order to become a good administrator, one needs to be confident. “Have faith in yourself and make your team party to decision-making. This keeps members motivated and ensures better compliance. It is wise to build on structures and policies rather than dismantle the system. Innovate after that. One must have a vision and a strategy. The aim should be clear to all and encourage feedback.”

Stressing on one essential quality that kept her in good stead was being decisive, and sharing her thoughts on it she said, “I went by merit alone. There was no question of sifarish or favoring anyone. If faced with multiple choices, take the legal and ethical option. To take the test of ethical behaviour, it’s best to go by the ‘mom test’ which is would your mother approve? Then ask will people approve? Will you approve? Allow yourself to make mistakes but learn from them. Mistakes make you wiser.”

Being a woman in a male-dominated field comes with its own set of challenges, however, Mrs. Meenakshi wasn’t to be bogged down by any odds. “From Day 1, when I was posted to Nuh as the sub-divisional magistrate (SDM), I decided I’ll be professional. I’m an officer first and then a woman. Pehli bail de rahi thi and the court was packed. People wanted to see how I would conduct myself. I went on to get the most challenging of jobs whether it was that of being the excise and taxation commissioner, chairperson of the Haryana Power Utilities or IG, Prisons, and later joint secretary, home. I gave it my best,” she shared.

Despite being a firm believer of the fact that women can achieve anything that they want, Mrs. Meenakshi also expressed how lack of education and skills hamper their growth. “Every working woman should build a support system. Apart from her family, she should network with friends whom she can fall back on when her profession demands priority. “There’s no denying that you have to stand the test again and again. If a woman fails, it is seen as the gender failing but if a man fails, it is seen as his failure not the gender’s,” she said.

H/T: The Hindustan Times 

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