Increasingly, women are now making their presence felt in every field including hitherto male-dominated domains from space exploration to medicine to bureaucracy.
On Women’s Day, we meet one such woman achiever, Dr.Manjula Naik – Tourism Director of Karnataka, who is from the 2002 IAS batch. She has had an illustrious career and before taking over the reins as Director Tourism, she was Director- Municipal Administration, District Collector- Chikkaballapur, and CEO-Zilla Panchayath, Mysuru.
Apart from being an IAS Officer, Dr.Manjula is a qualified doctor. She talks about the shift “I was interested to pursue my dream of becoming an IAS officer and my parents encouraged me too. However, they wanted to ensure that I had a professional degree so as to secure a job, lest I not qualify the IAS exams! My parents have always instilled in us the importance of pursuing higher studies and being independent. From a very early age, my sister and I have been encouraged to set our goals and follow our dreams. Both my parents had an impact on my life decisions. My mother encouraged me to explore my strengths and reach my potential. My father was an officer in the State Government and I was inclined to become an IAS officer. He also motivated me and felt that as an IAS Officer, I could bring about an impactful change in the society and do a lot of good by serving people. I got into medicine and then cleared the IAS exam, much to the delight of everybody in the family”.
Dr. Manjula has brought about a lot of change in the Department of Tourism – Karnataka. She was instrumental in bringing the Karnataka Tourism brand to the forefront and through participation in various forums and other initiatives, there was increased visibility – both nationally and internationally. This resulted in close to 40% increase in tourists in 2017! Many new tourist destinations were identified and a major chunk of the tourism budget has been allocated for development of these areas. She had the Archaeology portfolio under her as well and was responsible for restoring several protected monuments of national importance including some lesser known ones.
On women IAS Officers
Dr. Manjula feels that bureaucracy has changed both for men and women. She says “In tune with the changing society and the world, the ways of administration have changed. Of late, we are seeing an increase in the number of women entering the Services, including some unconventional ones too. As is in most professions, the number of women is comparatively less than men. The Services are no different and it’s not unique to this service alone. But it’s heartening to see women who have worked in other fields and women who are already married and settled getting into the services”.
On some of her earlier work
Dr. Manjula has impacted the society in more ways than one. While she was the DC of Chikballapur, she helped create awareness of the importance of the girl child. She shares “There was this girl who must have been 13 or 14 years old who had a hole in the heart and her parents were not willing to treat her despite the fact that we were willing to bear the entire cost. It took a lot of cajoling to make the family get the girl treated as for them, the girl child was not important. Finally, the girl was treated and she recovered. It is things like these that we can do in our power as IAS officers, things which create an impact in the society – no feeling gives as much satisfaction as this does. Many years ago, in one of my postings, we wanted to build toilets but there was resistance there too. I went personally to many houses and explained to the men who were resisting it, that the women’s dignity was at stake when they defecate openly and that diseases spread as a result of the open defecation. It took us a lot of time to convince the villagers but finally, we managed to build 50,000 toilets”.
On her advice to women
She says women should follow their dreams and give their best at anything that they take up. Dr.Manjula says “Today’s world offers immense opportunities and it can get confusing to choose and decide what you want. But be clear about your dreams and aspirations and be determined to achieve the same. Strive hard and don’t rest until you reach where you want to be…”.