Four women toppers among the top five in India’s prestigious IAS exams, as the news came in it was a moment of rejoice not only for the ladies and their families but for the entire country. Never before have the top spots been grabbed by women in civil service exams. Outshining hundreds and thousands among more than 4,00,000 aspirants is a feat in itself.
As a woman civil sevant who has walked the tightrope between responsibility and pressure of sorts, I would like to forewarn these achievers of challenges that lie ahead of them. A very promising career faces the danger of getting derailed due to several reasons. Firstly, it’s the image that counts and one should not be deterred by colleagues and seniors even in the State Secretariat who might get on your wrong side because of their pesky nature. Nuggets about the new female entrants are received with delight by one and all. And the test is more difficult for those in the limelight.
An IAS officer’s mettle is tested by his or her ability to anticipate problems and deal with them efficiently without rocking the boat. Administrative rules and regulations are important but the wisdom to anticipate public reaction and political fallout of decisions is also crucial.