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India’s Corona Warriors: One Joins Office with a Month-Old Baby, The Other Joins WHO Panel

Brushing aside her maternity leave, this IAS officer returned to office within a month of giving birth. The second officer too has done India proud, through her selection in the elite international panel seeking answers to the spread of coronavirus.
Indian Masterminds Stories

When IAS officer Srijana Gummalla returned to office barely one month after her delivery, holding the baby in her arms, the photograph went viral within hours. The baby was born in the midst of raging pandemic, and Srijana knew what was required of her as a corona warrior. She forfeited six months of maternity leave due to her and joined office as the Commissioner of the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) in Andhra Pradesh.

Another senior IAS officer Ms Preeti Sudan- she also hails from Andhra Pradesh- has done the country proud. As the Union Health Secretary, she co-ordinated the nationwide efforts in containing Covid 19. Among other things, she was instrumental in the safe return of over 600 Indians from Wuhan in China. She retired in July 2020, but the journey of this corona warrior is still continuing. Just a few days ago, the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response appointed Preeti Sudan as one of its 11 panelists from across the world.

Srijana with her baby

Warrior First, Mother Later

Ms Srijana Gummalla is 2013-batch IAS officer. Commenting on her decision to forsake her maternity leave, she said fighting coronavirus was very important to her. In fact, days after giving birth to the baby, Srijana requested the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister to let her rejoin office. The CM was taken back, but relented when she persisted with her request.

Ms Srijana’s unique gestures has been winning her friends and admirers from all around. Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat praised the officer and tweeted, “India is fortunate to have such corona warriors. My heartfelt gratitude for this living example of commitment to duty.”

Another tweet hailing Srijana came from BJP leader Mr B L Santosh. He wrote, “She returned to her work with her 1 month old baby in hand to duty. The crisis made her to answer the call of duty. Nation is lucky to have such corona warriors.”

Corona warrior Srijana Gummalla

Daughter of senior IAS officer G Balaramaiah, it is obvious that Srijana imbibed the importance of service before self from an early age. A Psychology graduate from Osmania University, Hyderabad, she ranked 44th in the UPSC examination. She did her post-graduation in political science, and is also a gold medalist from Sweden’s Uppsala University.

Prior to taking over as the Commissioner of GVMC as an IAS officer, Srijana Gummalla worked as an education management consultant for a year at Dr Reddy’s Foundation.

Retirement Did Not Make Ms Preeti Redundant

Ms Preeti Sudan’s appointment, weeks after her retirement as senior IAS officer, to the WHO’s Independent Panel is an endorsement of the corona warrior’s spirit with which she worked as the Union Health Secretary.  The WHO Panel will look into several aspects of pandemic, including how Covid 19 emerged and why some countries were caught off-guard.

Preeti Sudan, now in WHO’s elite panel on Covid 19

Beside Ms Preeti, other members of the WHO panel include Mr David Miliband, former foreign secretary of the United Kingdom, Mr Ernesto Zedillo, economist and former president of Mexico and Ms Helen Clark, former prime minister of New Zealand. Ms Clark, in a press-release on September 3, said that “In the course of this year, Covid-19 has spread around the world, impacting in one way or another on the lives of every person on our planet. We intend to learn all that we can about its early emergence, global spread, health, economic and social impacts, and how it has been controlled and mitigated.’’

Srijana Gummalla and Preeti Sudan represent two of our foremost corona warriors, unrelated to each other but both fighting with a common zeal and determination to keep the deadly virus in check. In fact, an army of such warriors is in action in nearly all districts of India. Some of them have attracted nationwide attention, while others are working as effectively but silently.


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