T stands for transparency for IAS topper - Law graduate bats for RTI

Read more below

  • Published 12.05.11
Shanmugam Divyadarshini

Chennai, May 11: If it comes to transparency, you can count on this T.

T as in topper.

Shanmugam Divyadarshini, who has topped this year’s civil services exams, swears by two mottos — integrity and transparency. And to ensure this, she wouldn’t mind sharing information with the public, provided it is not sensitive or exempted under the civil services schedule.

“I am a great believer in the Right to Information (RTI) Act, which is a landmark legislation, as I have witnessed my father fight corruption in the customs department using RTI. And it agitates me that RTI activists are being attacked when they attempt to expose corruption,” said the law graduate. “I would like the government to pass the whistleblowers protection act at the earliest so these two laws can be effective weapons against corruption.”

The 24-year-old cracked the IAS in her second attempt and never expected to be the topper. “I expected to be in the top 20 but not at the top of the list,” she said with a smile.

But it wasn’t all books and study for Divyadarshini, who prepared for the exams at Prabha’s Academy, one of the lesser-known coaching centres in Chennai. She rarely compromised on her pastimes like watching cricket on TV or movies or reading novels.

“There was a systematic approach, with my academy putting me on the right track frequently, but I was not overly consumed by my preparations. And my academy director, who travelled with me to Delhi, made sure that I was not nervous before the interview,” she said.

Her father, a consultant on export and import, had all along urged his second daughter to aim for the IAS. “She too was inspired after reading about the struggles of young officers who made a difference by their contribution and also by fighting corruption,” he said.

Divyadarshini is confident she can make a difference by being an honest and efficient IAS officer. “It pains me to see so many officials being arrested for corruption. If I had been in their position I would have stood up against my political bosses when asked to do a wrongful act,” she said.

Was she not being too idealistic?

“Ask me the same question after five years,” she shot back.