A 1981 batch IAS Officer, Hyderabad-born Mrs.Ratna Prabha, has 36 years of varied experience as a civil servant and worked in IT Promotion, e-Governance, Industry, and Social Sector departments. She has held several prominent positions in both the Centre as well as the State level. She took oath as the Chief Secretary of Karnataka on December 1st, 2017 and is the fourth woman CS of Karnataka.
Motivation to be an IAS officer.
Mrs. Ratna Prabha hails from a family of professionals – her father was a civil servant and mother, a doctor. She says “Since both my parents were professionals, we grew up in an environment where there was no other thought process except getting a job! Both my parents have been a source of inspiration for me. My father was a believer of simple and honest living and strove hard to help the underprivileged. My mother too inculcated in us similar values and emphasized on the need to curb wastage. From very early on, we were instilled with a sense of discipline and the habit of taking and using only what we needed and not letting anything go waste”.
“My parents never forced anything on us and gave us complete freedom to choose and walk our paths. They motivated us to choose a pragmatic way of life and encouraged us to pursue a career of our choice. My desire to be an IAS officer stemmed from seeing my father helping the needy. The intimate connection with people, which this job offered, excited me. Though initially, my mother wanted me to be a doctor, when she saw my inclination to pursue civil services, she encouraged me to follow my passion”.
Advice to aspiring women bureaucrats.
Mrs. Ratna says “Joining the Government is one of the best career options for women as it is highly respected and women can serve and contribute to the society immensely. Today, women comprise nearly 30% of the bureaucracy. My advice to these young women is to be bold, possess a strong will and desire to excel which,in turn, will help them to be efficient and successful civil servants”.
On being a woman bureaucrat in essentially a male bastion and challenges thereof.
The C.S says that she definitely feels great to be a woman in bureaucracy. She adds “As a woman, I think differently, I identify and sympathize with issues and problems of the people.The feminine qualities in me can see what men cannot. Women are naturally more empathetic. Hence, it makes a huge difference to be a woman bureaucrat. That makes me happy and confident”.
Talking about the challenges, she says “However, as is with many professions, here too, since women are fewer in number, often their capabilities are a question of suspect. But I think women bureaucrats are equal to men, sometimes perhaps even better than them. Like any other woman, I have to manage my household, family, and children. Time management is a crucial aspect in fulfilling both these responsibilities.There are challenges but they are not insurmountable as we are born multitaskers”!
About Invest Karnataka.
The Chief Secretary has played a major role in making Karnataka the number one preferred destination for investments. When she took over as Industries Secretary, Karnataka was number eight in the list but she strove hard to elevate Karnataka to the number one position, a position which it has proudly held for the last three years. She was instrumental in driving “Invest Karnataka” – a global investor’s platform to meet, exchange ideas and drive forward the State’s vision of prosperity for all – by employing technology, innovation, inclusion, and sustainability as key factors for development. In 2016, the event attracted more than 10,000 delegates from all over the world to explore opportunities in Karnataka. It was a very successful event and for the first time, a women entrepreneurs’ seminar was conducted wherein an exclusive vendor development meeting with top MNCs was held. It attracted more than 400 women entrepreneurs.
The Chief Secretary informs “Earlier, we used to have the Global Investors Meet once in 2 years. We contemplated giving it a new name and we decide to brand it as “Invest Karnataka”. I wanted to change some of the earlier ways of working. Instead of signing MOUs, we started working 2-3 months in advance & got real investments by approving projects so that on the day of the IK Meet, we could announce actual clearances, which in 2016, were around Rs.1.77 lakh crores – this brought Karnataka to the number one position”.
Mrs. Prabha is also known for her outstanding work in encouraging and enabling women entrepreneurship in Karnataka. The State holds the enviable position of being the “Most Supportive Government for Women Entrepreneurship”. Mrs. Ratna adds “To establish a better coordination amongst women entrepreneurs of the State, I felt the need to create a platform through which women entrepreneurs could be in constant touch. A Whatsapp group called “Ubuntu” was created for this purpose. Ubuntu means “I am because we are” and “Because we are, you are”. The spirit behind it was to spread an atmosphere of happiness. She adds “Though we enjoyed the moral stories told to us as children and our parents always taught us to be good human beings, as we grew, along the way, we became selfish, self-centered, egoistic and greedy. In the pursuit of so-called “success”, we forgot all the values which were taught to us as children. Therefore this philosophy of sharing and being there for others is what we promoted and propagated in our Ubuntu group and one could see the positive energies flowing and a new enthusiasm and unity emerging. We found women happy and confident with the joy of being united, nurtured and being mentored. They no longer felt alone in the struggle of their businesses”.
The affable Chief Secretary wants to focus on grievance redressal of the people. She says “Wiping a tear in the eyes of an individual gives me the greatest joy. Also, I would like to focus on the flagship programs of the Government and pending important projects. Safety of women, integrated development of women and women’s entrepreneurship would be another major challenge which I would like to prioritize”.
Interest and Hobbies.
The Chief Secretary is an ardent sports lover and has participated in athletics while in school and won several competitions. She played Table Tennis and Badminton in her college days and even represented Osmania University in many junior and senior level competitions and won several prizes. She shares “During my IAS training days, I was the Sports Secretary of the Academy and participated in, and won several competitions. When I joined service, I represented Karnataka in multiple All India Service competitions. Much as I want to, due to work pressures and responsibilities, I am not getting enough time for pursuing my interest in sports”.
Sporting her new role as Chief Secretary of Karnataka, Mrs.Ratna Prabha is all set to steer Karnataka productively in more ways than one and win many more accolades during her tenure.