Doctor Turned IAS Officer: A Messiah for Senior Citizens.
- Bhakti Kothari
- Published on 23 Sep 2020, 9:57 pm IST
- 6 minutes read
From a medical practitioner to a civil servant, Dr Renu has traversed an unconventional path.
- Dr Renu Raj IAS
Dr. Renu Raj earned laurels for Kerala and her family when she cleared and topped her UPSC exams with a whooping second position, and that too in her first attempt!
She pursued her M.B.B.S from Kottayam Medical College and was about to enter her practice when she realized that she wanted to do more. Her parents, V. N. Latha and Rajakumaran Nair always wanted her to become a successful doctor, but when they came to know about her decision to get into civil services, they were more than thrilled! Thus, began the journey of Dr. Renu Raj, a civil servant, about which she exclusively talked with Indian Masterminds.
Inspiration and preparation:
When she was in High school, Dr. Renu had asked her father to take her to meet an IAS officer. That meeting changed her world-view. She told her parents about her desire to crack UPSC, and she supported her decision.
Despite having a medical degree, Dr Reu chose Malayalam as her optional subject for the Civil Service Examination.
She recalls, “I respect the noble profession of medicine. But as I met people from different backgrounds walking in and out of the hospital and tended to their illnesses, my interest in their backgrounds, living conditions, access to basic rights, etc. grew. I felt I could do a lot more for them as a civil servant. And so, I decided to listen to my heart and pursue my childhood dream.”
After completing her internship, Dr. Renu moved to Thiruvananthapuram, and dedicated one full year in preparing for her UPSC exam. She worked as a part-time doctor until the results were out. “Initially, I was all over the place and confused, just like beginner aspirants. I started studying for my prelims and mains together. I did not stress too much on the result at first, because I knew I had a professional degree to fall back on. Also, I did not prepare for too many exams; I had my eyes set on the goal and gave it my best shot”, she told Indian Masterminds.
Being unsure about her first attempt, she had already registered for a second one when she was taken by surprise. She made the national headlines by scoring an All India Rank of 2! She gives credit to the support of her family. “My parents have been my biggest supporter. They even shifted with me to Thiruvananthapuram, so I don’t waste time on accommodation and food and focus purely on my preparation,” she said.
Life as a young bureaucrat:
Once entering into bureacuracy, Dr. Renu realized that it was way bigger than she had imagined.“When we are outside the system, we often think that it is easy for bureaucrats to do whatever they want to do, leverage their power, or make changes. While it is true that you can bring about change, you also need to understand that you are entering a system that has been in existence for years. And change happens, but only by following a procedure. The concept that everything changes at the snap of a finger are not true. It requires a lot of work and focus,” she said.
Rescuing the elderly:
While going through cases and surveys one day, she realized that every month, they received 35-40 cases of young people abandoning their old parents at old age homes, hospitals or, temples. And even though the Senior Citizen Maintenance Act of 2008 is existent in all states, it was hardly complied with. So she, along with ten conciliation officers, formed a team. “We could sort a lot of cases. In some, we were able to persuade the children to look after the parents, and if not that, pay for their maintenance up to Rs 10,000 per month. In cases where the children still disagreed but had received land from their parents, we got the ownership back,” stated Dr. Renu.
Once, she received information that an unlicensed old-age home in Thrissur was extorting money from the elderly, without a receipt. The elderly were not given any proper facilities, but were cramped in dirty rooms with absolutely no amenities. Dr. Renu Raj then conducted a raid on the premises. “We were told that the home locked elderly persons inside a room. Bedridden and suffering from dementia and similar conditions, these elderly were not even given proper food. When we raided the premises, we found one male and two females, two of whom did not have any documents. We rescued them and sealed the home. The elderly were then sent to a government-run facility,” the officer told Indian Masterminds.
She trained in Kochi for 10 months before going to LBSNAA for her academy training. It was in Thrissur that she had her first independent posting.
The icing on the cake was that they were also able to track their children and convince them to take their parent’s home and keep them in a safe and homely environment. “We did not fight or argue with them, just told them that all the money they were spending on their care could be used to give them a more homely atmosphere if they hired caretakers at their own homes. The elderly citizens were moved and thanked us. It was very emotional”, she recalls.
Under her tenure, she also formed a mega medical camp. This camp was in collaboration with Amruta Hospitals. Under the camp, they provided free treatments to senior citizens on the spot, and conducted 250 free surgeries, later. The camp saw a footfall of 2,000 senior citizens and became a huge success.
Other feathers in her cap:
Dr. Renu Raj is a young and dynamic bureaucrat, who is known for her courage in discharging her duties as a civil servant. She is the first woman officer in the area. She single-handedly took on the mining mafia in Devikulam district. Even after receiving many threats, she stood up to the powerful and wealthy and shut down quarries that were operating illegally.
Dr. Renu Raj’s power and integrity are an embodiment of New India. Indian Masterminds wishes her the best for all her future endeavors!
END OF THE ARTICLE