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Gujarat IAS Officer Admits Son to Anganwadi in an Exemplary Step

2015-batch IAS officer Neha Kumari, who is DDO, Dahod, Gujarat, recently admitted her son to an Anganwadi. This not only helped her to understand the problems faced by the centres but also gave a much-needed exposure to her little son. Her step has inspired many working couples to consider leaving their kids in the care of Anganwadis.
Indian Masterminds Stories

There’s a saying that ‘you preach a better sermon with your life than you do with your lips’. Proving it true, an IAS officer recently became an inspiration to many, when she came forward to admit her son to an Anganwadi, instead of an expensive private school.

She is Ms. Neha Kumari, a 2015-batch IAS officer of the Gujarat cadre. In an exclusive conversation with Indian Masterminds, she explained why she admitted her son to an Anganwadi, and how it has proved to be helpful for his growth.

The officer’s son surrounded by kids his age

A MOTHER’S DILEMMA

Currently posted as the District Development Officer (DDO) of Dahod district in Gujarat, Ms. Kumari is a proud mother of a one-and-a-half-year-old baby boy. Owing to her and her husband’s hectic work schedules, she was forced to leave her little child alone for long periods. 

“This resulted in him becoming very fussy day by day. We began noticing changes in his behaviour as he started throwing tantrums, which became very difficult. He had no exposure to the outside world. Even while I was on duty, thoughts of him always ran through my mind – whether he has eaten or not, if he was happy or not, what would he be doing at that particular moment. It was very stressful since I couldn’t monitor everything,” shared the officer.

The little one sitting in the lap of a caretaker

THE INCIDENT THAT CHANGED HER PERSPECTIVE

Being the DDO of the region, it was also Ms. Kumari’s responsibility to manage and keep a check on over 3000 Anganwadis in the district. Keeping an eye on so many centres is not easy and she was trying to find a workable solution. And, she had the perfect solution one day!

That day, Ms. Kumari had to attend a meeting, in which, her presence was extremely important. Since there was no one to look after her son, she decided she would take him along. But the little baby was very uncomfortable throughout and kept on crying. The officer asked her driver to take her son to any Anganwadi nearby for two hours, till the meeting got over, after which she could bring him back.

“After some time, I received a message from the driver and he told me not to worry as my boy was happy in the Anganwadi and was playing with the children there. That’s when it struck me that it doesn’t matter that he is not even three years old yet; he is ready to go out in the world and gain some exposure,” she said.

Having fun with his peers during lunchtime

A BIG STEP

Being a pro-government person, Ms. Kumari was more than happy to send her child to an Anganwadi centre instead of a private playschool. She understood that with just a few amendments here and there, even Anganwadis can have all the facilities provided by private schools.

“Initially, there were some hiccups. We noticed that the place got filled with mosquitoes during the rainy season, and there were some other such minuscule things which could be worked upon. We observed that the helpers working in these centres were very active and cared for the children just like mothers would,” Ms. Kumari said.

Furthermore, admitting her son to an Anganwadi also helped her understand the problems faced by the centres and the changes that could be made in them to provide the children and teachers with better facilities. She ordered the installation of mosquito nets on the doors and windows of the place to keep the little bugs away and made several other changes in all the Anganwadi centres to make them better for kids and teachers alike.

Enjoying his meal

CHANGES OBSERVED IN HER SON

Even though the officer’s son has only been going to Anganwadi for about two months now, she has noticed several changes in his habits and behaviours. Initially, he was very fussy in eating, and because of this, his growth was getting hampered and he wasn’t gaining any weight. But, now, after mingling with the children there, he has started enjoying his food with his friends and even feeds other kids with his hands!

“We are a tribal-dominated region, heavily dependent on agriculture and livestock. It really fascinates my son to see children playing around, chasing hens, and having fun. He also goes around playing with them. It is lovely to watch my son have fun with his peers, take part in games and activities and learn from them,” Ms. Kumari told Indian Masterminds.

Another thing that she observed was that her son has now gotten used to the idea of a working mother. Where earlier he used to fuss about his mother being away for work, now he has begun understanding the concept and doesn’t give anyone a hard time because of it.

Today, he looks forward to going to the Anganwadi, meeting his friends, spending time with them, eating, playing, and having fun with children of his age. It was the right decision on the part of Ms. Kumari, which has not just helped her toddler son but also inspired many other working parents to consider admitting their kids to Anganwadis. 


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