Tuesday, 21 March, 2023
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In IAS training academy, women civil servants are seen by male colleagues as husband-hunters

Women IAS officers were seen as seeking spouses among their own kind, because no one would marry them now that they were in the IAS.

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The experiences and choices of women IAS officers are in some ways distinct from those of the men. If asked why they wished to make a career in the civil service, women of my generation might give the same answers as the men; as for beauty contests, there are the standard acceptable replies (public service) and the standard unspoken ones (job security, pay, perks, prestige; a higher dowry is a reason that applies to male officers alone, since being in the IAS was often a deterrent in the marriage stakes for women!).

For my part, the decision to prepare for the IAS was taken in high school when I began to sense the shades of social constraints falling across my future. I longed to participate in exciting things happening in my country and society, but my history books were full of only male protagonists. I also fretted against the constant reminder of relatives that a mere girl like me could only get married and submit herself to the future of some man somewhere. I learned that the very few women who were then in the IAS were not allowed to marry. Entering the civil service would give me a good excuse to avoid the compulsion of marriage. I could also become a participant in public affairs, not remain an observer on the sidelines in a teaching capacity, the only other career open then to women like me. And these incentives motivated me to work hard for the civil service examination. Perhaps other women entrants sensed the same things. Certainly, we learned that a woman who got into the IAS would seldom be pressured by family and friends to resign and become a fellow traveller (cook and homemaker) to a man or stay at home to bring up children and adopt other unpaid nurturing roles.

All around us, we also knew highly intelligent women, whose families had actively prevented them from competing in the civil service examination, so that they could fulfil their roles as submissive married women, always moving a step behind spouses and other male relatives. I had succeeded partly because many brilliant women could not compete in the examination because of family pressures. The need for a woman to play second fiddle to a man was brought home to me rather brutally, when a close relative who had qualified for the civil service interview was told by a prospective groom that he could agree to their marriage only if she withdrew from the examination. (As it turned out, she didn’t!) To add insult to injury, in the training academy, women civil servants are treated by their colleagues as husband-hunters, seeking spouses among their own kind, because no one would marry them now that they were in the IAS. For, in the public mind, IAS male spouses were as desirable as IAS female spouses were undesirable.

Also read: These IAS officers are scripting stories of change across India & making lives better

Once part of the administration, women officers continue to face constraints imposed by spouses, families and society. Field postings with 24×7 responsibility are essential to lay the foundations of a sound career as a civil servant. In general, women were allowed to pursue careers only if they did not neglect spouses and children, which meant that they had to attend offices only between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Transposed to the IAS environment, this meant that women officers could be posted only in the metropolis, not work in or even travel to rural areas without spouses or other suitable male escorts and return home at a decent hour to attend to household duties. Effectively, they had to have lifestyles as close as possible to what they might have had as lecturers or officegoers. Such thinking is so ingrained in the popular mind that a chief electoral officer of Karnataka, while appointing senior civil servants as election observers in various constituencies of the state, put every woman officer on his list in a district adjoining Bengaluru, so they could all be within touching distance of home and family! He was astounded when I told him that I would prefer to observe the election at a spot distant from the capital, where I could always meet representatives of political parties who might want to complain about election malpractices.

Gender bias was also rampant in postings and career development. Although higher civil services were in theory open to women since Independence, the first women officers who joined the government (Chonira Belliappa Muthamma to the foreign service in 1948 and Anna George to the administrative service in 1951) were inducted with reluctance and with the caveat that they must leave if they ever married. At that time, patriarchal and misogynistic ideas about the unsuitability of women at higher official levels were widely prevalent among colleagues, bosses and members of the public. But these women remained role models, inspiring some more to reach for the stars.

This excerpt from Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Bureaucracy But Were Afraid To Ask by T.R. Raghunandan has been published with permission from Penguin Random House India.






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  1. Who asked women to be in civil service?,To show ones attitude over millions of commonmen?If every thing is problem for them from field posting toogender issues than why don’t they sit in home raising the family,why in cs ?

  2. Why glorification of your self. You guys are doing just another employment. Stop acting like childish deme gods

  3. Article with no merit. Male or female everyone make rheir choices. They are no more teens. Show me one female ias who is cooking at home. They know very well of their rights.

  4. I am surprised that this article is written by a female beurocrat. This article is demeaning to a large section of women who stay at home and nurture their kids and family. I don’t think that they are worthless or are playing second fiddle and only a handful of women who are in beaurocracy are the change makers. To be a role model or to prove your intelligence you don’t need to be in beaurocracy. We must learn to respect each and every human being who is doing his or her work with honesty and it should be a personal choice rather forced upon .

  5. Umpteen cases of inter as well as intra services marriages not only during training but also otherwise. Many IAS,IPS and Indian Foreign Service officers that I know personally as well as I don’t know..have married other professionals. Many Kerala cadre lady IPS officers have married doctors. An Indian Foreign service lady officer has married an Indian Forest service officer. IPS lady officers have married bankers,and MNC professional.
    Also many IFS ladies are single.So the article is correct to a certain extent.Male officers do the same,nothing wrong in it..So marriages are not made in Heaven but at the academy according to the writer.

  6. Even im getting my family response that if you are preparing for civil then be strong enough and forcing me to get marry .
    They are like everytime as i wasting time, they trying to say me and my journey will be lonely
    No appreciation im getting .just me only me

  7. Now I can get to know the main problem …… You yourself are immensely full of negativity but don’t spread it to others….. I’ve seen IAS officers happy with their job and state of living . And they’re the peak of inspiration for us so stop demotivating us

  8. This is very painful to read, such ideology coming from an IAS officer , IAS are my role models who are strong wilfully and can overcome big hurdles , my ideology suggests that if you dont like someone mindset you have two options , you can change him or you can find someone with your ideology , the world is pretty big and gender bias being such a small issue in very isolated regions within weakminded people , stop spreading such feminism which can only disrupt the balance rather than bringing everyone together for an overall growth of nation .
    By the way i was here to get some motivation for starting IAS preparation as I am standing at a point where I dont have a goal in life , nothing excites me enough after clearing IIT , i am in 3rd year at an 100year old institution and still cannot find a reason to invest myself.
    Any inputs would be appreciated!
    Thank you

    • No offense but I feel your ideas on feminism are quite unclear.I would urge you to read on the topic.And the article is not the authors opinion it’s an observation.

    • How about inventing something and patenting it, for the good of the country? Look into how you can serve the poorer sections of society or even students in rempte areas, national defence snd other things that can make the lives of people better. After Covid is over, meet people from different walks of life by goubg on an all India tour.

  9. I’m part of system author is referring to.

    Gender Inequality is a fact and is use misused.
    But in our effort to change the mindset we should not change the mind.

    She has tried to generalised her specific idea. Such mindset equally dangerous for society as patriarchy & bigotry. Instead of balancing the pendulum they are pushing the other end. Thus deteriorating the principles of Feminism.

    Women officer hunting husbands in LABASNAA, Mussoorie is a fact especially the girls below IAS ranks, or those seeking cadre change and fairer race.

    They always highlight gender issues and strive for authoritative role but often want to push responsibility on men around them.

    Girls & their families mostly complain against Dowry but forgot it when their male sibling is being married.
    They seek for best husbands & boyfriends comparing and rejecting so many on the basis of Government vs Private Jobs, Salary, Baldness, Weight, Education, Background etc.

    I heard cases in private sector where they leave there fiancee just because she got someone who is earning 5k more. They have left so many with broken hearts and mind, bollywood has left no stone unturned making us aware of such stories.

    Feminism has empowered them to play Victim card effectively. They always talk of being physically week but never talk about being emotionally stronger than men.

    Process of women empowering in India is heart warming but the social balance should be maintained elso society will move towards entropy.

    Think comprehensively before commenting.

  10. I dont understand that the fight is female Vs Male or something else. Plz think beyond this. If a lady like you is expressing such views then what can we expect from others. In the entire world the fight of fake feminism is happening. I know initially the society was male dominating but now every time i have seen that women some R some are focusing to blame men all bad things rather than to do something different.
    Apologize if anyone gets hurt.

  11. Artical talks about the fact that is presented in our society . As we live in a male dominated society . It is rightly said that family functions with good women and she has more responsibilities than man . I also want to joint civil services but never neglet my duties towards my family and never compare myself with my husband because we both have different role.

    • Your are absolutely right….. After facing so many challenges of the world, of time schedule (that return before sunset), of patriarchy,…. U want to go again in the world of so called emotion…. Take a flight of the world.. and be happy….

  12. No doubt education matters, and iAS cadres are always tight schedule, can’t taste and enjoy life compared to a normal Engineering graduate
    There always involved the questions of prestige and respect built-up in their psycopen
    Artificial life without real love and jastic

    • All this while licking boots of politicians 34% of whom are criminals with multiple cases in courts. This doesn’t mean others are saints just that those politicians are experts at indulging in corruption.

  13. A very good article, if marriage is question here than why this IAS officers are not tying the knot with such a person who may be less qualified but understanding, eventually giving life to someone. Rather tham marrying a highly qualified person who has problem with your profession. Look for a spouse who can take care of your home while you take care the country.

  14. M strongly agree with Mr BANDA SACHA.

    Now a days m looking for girl for marry.

    I talked many girls and with their families.

    Mr BANDA I replied always same as told by you.

  15. Nowadays how will care husbands. There’s no responsibility of doing Marriage even though Constitutional Court’s given freedom to woman, how can a wife will give respect to husband !
    There’s is no respect inbetween wife & husband.
    How to look after husbands these days. Even though the Constitutional Court gives the woman freedom, there is no obligation to marry and how the wife respects her husband !
    This is why honoring a husband and wife ?
    ఈ రోజుల్లో భర్తలను ఎలా చూసుకుంటారు. రాజ్యాంగ న్యాయస్థానం స్త్రీకి స్వేచ్ఛ ఇచ్చినప్పటికీ, వివాహం చేసే బాధ్యత లేదు, భార్య భర్తకు ఎలా గౌరవం ఇస్తుంది!
    భార్య మరియు భర్తను గౌరవించడం ఎందుకు ఉంఉంటుంది?

  16. Really good article ! In our society, some misconceptions like groom should have high education, more salary and physique (height, weight, etc.) than bride, have kept many women away from pursuing higher education and getting a prestigious jobs. Many parents just stop their daughters education (though enough finances and other things are available) because of a fear that highly educated girl may not get a boy more qualified than her, to marry ! Hence this patriarchal mindset must be changed and it can be done by Information, Communication and Education.

  17. Ok..
    I am a male earning 1 lac /month .I am ready to leave my job, if my wife earning decent money and he want to work..

    .I will take care home and enjoy life as tension free, will join gym, do yoga, and will travel with friends and do gapshap, enjoy time with my female friends etc. , And I don’t want any comments on how I spend money earned by her.

    ..if any time if she pass comment on me , there is should be law that I complain in police, section of media I want to declare her sexist, anti human and anti male female chauvinism. ( will need to find new words similar to misogynist etc).

    And if I tired of her , I will file a divorce and enjoy 50% compensation , and then live my life freely .

    And also I shouldn’t have any responsibility , I should have only rights.
    I should not take care of my parents , as well as her parents , as I’m independent Man, who don’t believe in this matriachal society.

    • This is the most common complaint men have against women…the position of a housewife is totally dependent on the husban especially financially and no one wants to be inferior or dependent…also her work is more than gupshup 🙂 ….its complex… men do have the pressure of providing for their family but no one chooses to be a housewife …it is the society which expects women to be housrwife….i know a lot of girls who were good in studies and wanted to have a career but their parents wanted them to get married or not study further because highly educated girls might not find a groom…it is a well known fact…now when she is financially dependent and there is a divorce who will provide for her…hence such laws….also passing a comment wont cause divorce…its usually beating..vulgar language..day after day….also when a man is earning and sees his wife as a burden ..
      he might get bored and want a new woman in his life..maybe a new wife…so he gives divorce or ill treats her….i have noticed at least in india women bear a lot but dont want divorce beause of fear of becoming a divorcee and the legal hassles….but dont worry…things will change…women will ultimately stop being housewives and there will be no complaints !

    • Wonderful!
      The truth is, women are more powerful than men. The nature itself has made a woman more stronger than a man. She can give birth, he can not. We are all because of her, our existence depend on her. The human world has experienced the power of a woman. She is ready to take responsbility, she is ready to face challenges, she has tolerance, she has courage, she is kind, she is world as she has motherhood. We all men respect you a lot & salute the all women – Mother, our life & our existance on this planet is because of you. Mother, you are IAS, IPS, Doctor, Advocate, Engineer, Entrepreneur, President, Prime minister, Pilot, Leader, fighter, creator & you are holding all the position & you are doing all what a man can do. No responsibility has never stopped you to become a holy creator, a mother – you are great. We all men are grateful to “Mother” – the highest position holding in this world.

  18. I’m so surprised that these men in comment section are having opinion that gender bias is a lie and does not exist. That has never happened before.
    I am in high school and preparing for upsc and it’s nice to see the mindset I have to defeat.

  19. Instead, limited woman IAS are seen as most lucrative ones by fellow IAS men who seek to marry the limited number of Ias women. And what retard comments by few men over here.
    Also if a woman is IAS , if she seeks to make change to country then first she needs to change her micro ecosystem first. Can’t believe these terrific women to be thinking about marriage as an issue. Totally bogus claims

  20. Rubbish article and a wastage of time, I wonder ,after getting so much educated still one can afford to think such narrow…. Where our society is heading towards then… It’s time for all of us to come out of such narrow gauge thinking.. N contribute towards making a healthy society…. For the new generation n build India on a total new pretex…

    • You are being naive. She only mentioned the final conclusion that one draws after doing everything to push women up.

  21. The issue is not as simple as stated by you madam.
    There are so many sectors,where you can work 8am-9pm,go home,albeit tired,and come back fresh the next day.My self and wife are both doctors,professo,with job and consultancy. All domestic chores,we leave to trained persons,and utilise our home hours for family interactions. Compromises are inevitable. Home or office,only one can get your attention, and partner accommodation makes a lot of difference. Your choice should be along those lines. God bless you,and we need more decision makers like,who are more open to thinking aloud

  22. My God, what a retarded mindset. Pathetic. Perpetual victimhood, lies and bigotry is all this write up is about. Get well soon.

  23. I completely agree with the views of the author.
    Facts are sometimes different to accept
    Gender bias is in the nature so why pretend to ignore it.

  24. Article is totally negative in nature, especially for women who are aspiring to become IAS officer and also a good home maker. The job of a home maker is not a joke. It is completely dedicated 27*7 job. A women who is successful home maker can become a very successful public servant but not vise versa. The negativity talked about in the article may exist, I am not totally ruling out, but it has been projected out of proportion, creating fear, suspicion and doubt in the minds of general public.

  25. women do need reservation and it can be seen from the ill proportion of their participation in law making bodies compared to men. the change must start from political parties and percolate into the society. until that happens, the change in the mindset of society is tough to imagine.

    a P V Sindhu will not make a big difference. there were many champions of the causes of women. what did they all result in?

    BJP/Congress or any other political party worth its name does not admit this fact openly. IAS/IPS hardly matters…. the change should begin at home, honestly. its Political Parties for the Society, our own home for each of us.

  26. Women SHOULD NOT be in IAS .IPS. IFS. The primary role is family
    If they want to join services they should NOT marry as airhostesses. ALSO WOMEN GET DRUNK WITH POWER. GOOD created woman to be under man not above him.

    • Though women are usually more intelligent and emotionally stronger than men…men are physically a bit stronger than women unless they fo lots of body building….but i would say that women and men are equal and should be treated equally….hate or superiority complex will not get you anywhere…and if your views are because some woman in your life made you sad…well not all women are same just like not all men are same…its simple…you will be treated ad you treat others…try to be a better person..dont have such bitterness.

    • Sir your mind set is too narrow.Our country has more scope to develop.It is because of the mindset of people like you that the hindered the progress of our country.Women have much more to contribute to the society.SO EVEN IF YOU DONT ENCOURAGE WOMEN STOP DISCOURAGING THEM .

  27. Man! Job or jobless, If my Wife can’t cook fr me, can’t take care of my children and my home, then what good a spouse she is, I would rather marry a robot.
    These are basic duties of married women & if doing the abv things makes a women ‘submissive’ (@Print) , thn smthng is really wrong somewhere. How can the print label thm like that, Absolute Stupidity

    • Who said they are basic duties of a woman…the basi duties of a man are to go to battles and fight like warriors but that is history…mentally a women thinks like a man because they are humans…if you are educated then would you like cooking cleaning for your spouse not out of love but because society says so…have some sense of justice…who decides what duties and jobs others should do? And why?

  28. This is a feminist point of view. As always feminism states Men are the root cause of all evil. Where as feminism is CANCER to society.

  29. I thought women IAS and IPS officers stop ovulating once they get in to un-civil services. Do rhey orgasm? I think not. Shameless article. This country has been destroyed, almost, by corrupt bureaucracy. All of them are corrupt, egomaniacs. Some are downright criminals, like Shah Faisal, the scum.

  30. Totally support you here. Definitely speaking out isn’t easy as there are these people who call themselves ‘mard’ but still can’t tolerate a single criticism against themselves or their mindset, and have nothing better to do than try to bring down our spirit. True to the last degree; unfortunately there are still IAS officers in the country who accept/ expect handsome dowries in marriages. Women like us need to keep speaking out; not gonna be easy with so many crabs in society trying to put us down, but we need to keep going and will keep fighting.

    • I’m ready to become house husband and enjoy my life freely, without office ki chik chik and nonsense.

      I want female like this who allow , and Marry a non working husband, why should always husband earn?
      Man also have a life , he will wants to spend money earned by her.

      If any problem arises in marriage I want section of media to declare that lady female chauvinist, anti male and declare her a product of regressive matriachal society.

      Also after divorce , I want 50% compensation from her per month.

      And I shouldn’t have no responsibility for caring about her parents, and my parents….as we become modern parents don’t need caring

      • 99prcnt women whether working or not manages their work n home very efficiently…yeah women loves gossiping that dont means they gossip whole day…if they gossip whole day n stay busy spending their husband hard earned money…kids like u wouldnot have grown this big n this much educated…its the kindness n love of the woman that makes a house a home…yeeah if shes working still she tries her best to manage she do it for her husband her kids..i am really sorry as the wife u get is among the 1prcnt who dont care of anythng other den money..u r with a wrong grl….all women r not same just as all men r not same.A house becomes a home with the combined effort of a man n a woman.both r needed 4 each other.i dont knw why some thnks woman r wrong or man r wrong…the thing is that not all man or woman r same if one is wrong there are many who r right for u

  31. How ! The Print can call a home maker or house wife or normal married women who work for her family day in and out, other than a high profile job, a submissive woman !!
    You are huge opinion maker. You guys just know criticisms. You talk no solutions at all. Bullshit The Print.
    Idiots earning their money being fooling minds.
    Listen the print! We value our mothers and sisters more than your opinion and jobs. And they choose to be like that. They made us…we are the product of them.

  32. I am really surprised at this mindset. The present day generation is a thing of past. Neither the women nor the men IAS officers think in these terms. I have close association with IAS officers both men and women. Except two couples all others ‘ spouses are from different fields.

  33. Ma’am you are a proven personality here I just have a query if women IAS officers think no one would marry them as your opinion says why don’t they marry any guy who is honest and not completely employed their men can also stay at home and do the chores as other women ho like house husband but they don’t do so because somewhere in their mind they want a compatible husband who she can flaunt to her society don’t you think not only men but IAS WOMEN also accept the patriarchal society cause the y can’t see their husband being unemployed at home
    I apologise if I said something wrong ma’am if you find any mistake please correct me and enlighten me with ur opinion

  34. Very old age thinking ….most orthodox… conservative.. writer is very conservative n orthodox thinker… Writer is still living in retrogressive society that is why thinking is also retrogressive

  35. This may be more prevalent in Southern Indian states. Normally educated persons and family prefer friendship, equality in terms of capabilities and field matters to a point. True marriage spirit would be ” saptme pade sakha Bhavet.” Means b6 seven wows or round around fire at the end ask the two marrying persons be best friends of each other.
    Vedas have been either misunderstood or distorted on purpose by few to show Indian culture tradition and knowledge are inferior to westerners.
    Here we also forget that God has given special abilities to girls and women to bear child in order to continue human race. Carrier in any field doesn’t make person superior but performance and achievement are noticed by all around circle of influence.

  36. What a crybaby she is? Why she is accusing Male IAS officer & for what? If some male officer or otherwise wants wife who should be looking after her children and family so be it. It is there wish. What is her problem with that? You don’t want to marry or marry with someone having different mindset marry him. You cannot accuse or blame males for their preferences same as for females.

  37. It’s not written with a progressive mindset…maybe dates back many years. Selecting partners is part of natural instinct…so why make such a point wherein I would have been eager to know your perspective of the services from a lady officer’s lenses. The author could have selected another essay instead of this.

  38. Madam, You yourselves married your colleague IPS officer. Why are you being a hypocrite? Please stop acting like lady IAS officers have nothing but public service in their mind. After all it’s just another job.

    Also, you are against women IAS officers taking any privileges like appointments close to their family. But I recently read an article saying you wrote a letter to PM Modi to allow free rides in metro for women. Please do not act like you are in ivory tower. Stop the elitist character of bureaucrats.

    Jai Hind

  39. That’s certainly not true for all the male IAS officers. At one hand there are reports that maximum marriages are made in LBSNAA while at the other hand you are giving such reports. Only a handful of them who are chauvinistic in nature and still treat women as just cook, child producing machine, and inferior to them stick to such ideology. Rest choose their life partners in LBSNAA itself or some other fellow officers or may be equally qualified partners from other areas.

  40. Now ,Iam much more excited to become an IAS officer .As a women , reading such article boost up ky morales.

    Thank you.

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