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From Gymnast to Tax Collector, This Artist Paints a Life of Passion

IRS officer Monika Rana's journey into the world of art began with a profound experience during her schooling.
Indian Masterminds Stories

Imagine a world where an IRS officer spends her free time not crunching numbers, but wielding a paintbrush. Meet Monika Rana, who shatters stereotypes by leading a life that seamlessly blends the analytical with the artistic, the rigorous with the creative. Her story, however, begins not with tax codes, but with a life-altering experience in her fifth-grade classroom.

In an exclusive conversation with Indian Masterminds, Ms. Rana shared details about her passion for painting as well as her fitness streak.

A CATALYST FOR CREATIVITY

A defining moment in Ms. Rana’s artistic awakening came when a senior student, a fighter pilot who was a talented artist, organized an art exhibition to raise funds for the family of a fallen comrade in the Kargil War. Witnessing the power of art to evoke emotions and connect with people on a profound level left a lasting impression on the young officer.

“This drew me towards painting. I believe that once you get impressed by a certain action, a little too much, you can teach yourself to do the same. Thus, without any lessons or anything, I started drawing and painting by myself, and by the time I reached class 8th, I was already making portraits of people.”

GETTING EXPOSURE FROM SCHOOL

Her artistic talent was further nurtured in school. Frequently chosen to create portraits of visiting dignitaries, she received valuable exposure and recognition. She was frequently asked to sit in front of chief guests or other important people and draw their portraits as they visited her school for events.

“I received a lot of attention like that. Sometimes the chief guests gave me money or clicked a photograph with me, which made my little heart really happy. So all these cute little achievements motivated me further to continue drawing and painting,” she told Indian Masterminds.

Ms. Rana recognized the significance of art as a valuable skill and opted for painting as a subject in higher secondary school, delving deeper into its historical and academic aspects. This allowed her to learn more about the academic part as well as details about the history of art.

“I had a wonderful teacher who had me exhibit with him, in various parts of the country, thus helping me to spread my impression across India.”

UPSC AND THE RELUCTANT PAUSE

However, as she embarked on her preparation for the rigorous UPSC Civil Services Exam, practicality took precedence. The need for a secure career path necessitated a temporary hiatus from her artistic pursuits.

Yet, the embers of passion refused to die. Ms. Rana found solace in attending art fairs and exhibitions, keeping herself connected to the world of art whenever possible.

REKINDLING THE FLAME

Years later, with a fulfilling career as an IRS officer, the officer decided to rekindle her artistic passion. She established a dedicated art studio within her home, a space for creative expression. Her artwork reflects a desire to connect people through visual storytelling.

“Art has now become a sort of family bonding time for us. The first thing that my elder daughter does after waking up in the morning is sit on her table and start to paint, which I think is amazing! Painting has become very therapeutic for all of us,” she shared.

A UNIQUE STYLE OF CELEBRATION

A unique opportunity to merge her artistic talents with her professional expertise arose in 2012. The Income Tax department was celebrating its 150th anniversary in India, and Ms. Rana, as part of the commemorative committee, proposed a unique project – “150 Years of Income Tax Through Art.” This project aimed to depict the department’s rich history through a series of paintings.

“We organized a lot of workshops across the country. We also involved numerous students, our own employees, their families, famous artists, and others who contributed paintings, which helped us to come out with a profitable book.”

The book, containing these artworks, was released by the then President, Ms. Pratibha Patil, and Finance Minister, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, providing a unique platform for connecting with the public.

BEYOND THE CANVAS

Ms. Rana’s life extends far beyond the walls of her art studio and her IRS office. A fitness enthusiast, she studied at the Motilal Nehru School of Sports in Haryana. A dedicated gymnast for ten years, she continued her athletic pursuits by excelling in diving and securing a national ranking.

Seeking a stable career path, she considered joining the Air Force after clearing the Service Selection Board (SSB). However, inspired by her brother’s success in the UPSC exam, she decided to pursue a career in civil services. Balancing UPSC preparation with marriage and motherhood presented its own challenges. However, her strong willpower saw her through, and she successfully cleared the exam.

“Currently, I do trampoline and calisthenics, a form of gymnastics. Along with that, I play tennis for my department. We recently had an interservice tournament, and I represented my department there.”

“I resonate with both my hobbies. Physical fitness helps you have body confidence, reduces aging, promotes well-motorized body functions, and helps to fight ailments and diseases caused by bad health and painting provides you with mental peace, creativity, and connections,” she added.

Sports, art, and a demanding career – Ms. Rana’s life exemplifies the human capacity to wear multiple hats and excel in diverse arenas. Her story resonates with anyone who has ever juggled passions with practicality, reminding us that a fulfilling life can encompass a beautiful tapestry of pursuits.


Indian Masterminds Stories

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