Women have been at the frontline in the fight against COVID-19, in their roles as health workers, social activists, and as part of the government. Women in the higher echelons of bureaucracy have been leaving no stone unturned to ensure that the safety protocols are being followed on-ground. Not falling behind their male counterparts, they have been risking their lives to ensure people remain safe and sound.
Let’s take a look at some of the brave and resilient IAS officers who have been leading this fight:
Annies Kanmani Joy
As Deputy Commissioner of Kodagu district in Karnataka, Annies Kanmani Joy is credited with the district reporting no cases for 28 consecutive days. The district had strict protocols in place to contain the virus. As of July 19, Kodagu has had 140 cases.
Prior to becoming an IAS officer, Annie had worked as a nurse. She has dealt with several challenges, including the landslides and floods that occurred in the district several years ago.
As of July 19, the state of Tamil Nadu has recorded 50,294 active cases, according to the National Health Mission. One of the leading frontline workers in the state is Beela Rajesh, a 1997 batch IAS officer, now the health secretary of Tamil Nadu. She has earlier worked as sub-collector of Chengalpattu, Commissioner of Fisheries and Commissioner of Town and Country Planning in the state.
All CTO and registration offices in the state continue to work with COVID 19 precautions ! Request all who come there to wear masks ,wash hands and maintain social distance! Stay safe and keep going.— Dr Beela Rajesh IAS (@DrBeelaIAS) July 16, 2020
An MBBS graduate from Madras Medical College, Beela has also held the role of the Commissioner of Indian Medicine and Homeopathy, before taking on her current responsibility in 2019. She is part of a 36-member team that has been appointed by the state government to monitor 33 districts that have been affected by the virus. She has been in charge of supervising the district of Krishnagiri, since June 18.
This list is incomplete without the mention of Preeti Sudan IAS, who holds an M.Phil. in Economics and postgraduate in Social Policy and Planning from the London School of Economics. An ex-Consultant with World Bank in Washington, she is an IAS Officer of 1983 batch from Andhra Pradesh cadre, currently serving as Secretary, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India. Her ministry is the nodal agency for fighting the Coronavirus pandemic. Preeti, along with Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, coordinates with sister departments in the central and state government.
Reportedly, she is the first point of contact for any query arising from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office or from the office of Union Minister. She had played a major role in the evacuation of the 645 students from Wuhan, China.
The Bhilwara model in Rajasthan has served as an example for other states in the country, and its success can be attributed to 26-year old IAS officer Tina Dabi, who has held the position of a sub-divisional magistrate since 2018. Ever since the first COVID-19 case in Bhilwara surfaced, Tina has been instrumental in containing its spread.
Not only did she isolate the district, she also transferred patients to quarantine and isolation wards, and began monitoring the villages. Much before the nationwide lockdown was imposed, Bhilwara was already in complete lockdown.
It was in 2015 that Tina secured the first rank in the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) Examination. She had graduated in Political Science from DU’s Lady Shri Ram College at the age of 20 as a university topper. She is also the first Dalit to have topped the examination, and has also been awarded the President’s gold medal for her IAS training in 2018.
One of the most heartwarming stories during this pandemic has been that of IAS officer, Srijana Gummalla, who began working from her office with her 22-day-old son in her arms. She was on maternity leave, but she cut it short to perform her call of duty, after having discussions with the Chief Minister of the state.
As Commissioner of the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation, she has been instrumental in controlling the spread of the virus in her region. A Psychology graduate from Osmania University, Hyderabad, Srijana is a 2013 batch IAS officer and was ranked 44th in the UPSC examination. Her father, G. Balaramaiah, was also a senior IAS officer.
Another braveheart who has gone beyond her duties is Rajeswari B, the Deputy Commissioner of Dumka, Jharkhand. She has been making sure that the elderly population, who is at high-risk, receives essentials at their doorstep. One instance is that of 80-year-old Laxmi Devi, a childless widow who suffers from arthritis, and had severe food and cash crunch. After Rajeswari received a call from her relatives, Rajeshwari made sure that these essential items reached Laxmi Devi within an hour. She also makes visits to monitor the situation in Dumka from time to time, and has been keeping a check on highly-populated markets using drones.
Rajeswari has become popular on social media for boosting the morale of the public by hosting online competitions in cooking, fancy dress, mehendi, etc. while staying indoors.
(Edited by Athira Nair)