Interview with Mrs. Rachel Chatterjee
We, the members of the Papyrus Club, St. Ann's ISC, had the privilege of interviewing Mrs. Rachel Chatterjee9 a 1975 batch IAS officer),the then Chairperson and M.D. of AP Transco Ltd, on the 26th of Oct 2007. Presently she is the Principal Secretary in the social welfare department of Andhra Pradesh. Her experiences made us laugh, wonder and also left us inspired. In that 45 minute interaction, here's what she had to say. (The article is being published much after the date of interview because the content was checked by Mrs.Chatterjee's office , and the entire procedure was time consuming).
AN:ARE YOU LIVING YOUR DREAM OF WORKING IN CIVIL SERVICES OR DID IT JUST HAPPEN?
Mrs.Chatterjee: (jovially) I was, in a sense, sort of pushed into it by my mother initially. But, now, I am very grateful to her because when I look back, I know that I wouldn't have had the sense of fulfillment that one gets from public service had I been in the private sector - which is where I wanted to be after College.
AN: THESE IT SECTORS DOING SO WELL, WHY DO YOU THINK PEOPLE WOULD CHOOSE CIVIL SERVICES?
Mrs. Chatterjee: Money is the biggest attraction for private jobs. However, my view is that far greater job satisfaction comes in public service. The decisions we make in government have an effect on a large number of people's lives, and it is in public service that one can do the maximum good for the maximum number of people. The number of youngsters who want to enter civil services is gradually decreasing, mainly because of this very big gap between the salaries between the two sectors.
AN: DO YOU THINK WILL ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO ENTER CIVIL SERVICES?
Mrs. Chatterjee: (pretty immediately) Better salaries for sure. About 10 years back, the then Prime Minister of Singapore visited our State and told the Chief Minister that salaries in Government service in Singapore were on par with private sector salaries, because with low salaries it would be impossible to attract the best talent into Government. He said, "If you give peanuts, all you'll get are 'monkeys'." (Laughs)
Today's youngsters are lured to other careers mainly due to the huge salaries and incentives offered. The only way to attract today's brilliant youngsters into Government service is to increase the amount on paychecks and give incentives based on performance. This is a major issue, and everyone is concerned about it. There is a Pay Commission which is looking into this matter. I support the idea that salaries and career advancement should be based on performance, as such incentives will encourage the person to work, and effectively face and address the challenges that face Government.
AN:BEING A WOMAN, HOW DIFFERENT HAS IT BEEN AS COMPARED TO YOUR MALE COUNTERPARTS?
Mrs. Chatterjee: There were a lot of prejudices about woman officers when I first entered service in 1975. The general mindset was that women can't do certain jobs
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