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Watch: A female IPS officer speaks out on political corruption and sexism in the bureaucracy

‘I find many of the fears of bureaucrats to be unfounded and baseless,’ says Roopa D Moudgil.


Being a bureaucrat in India comes with its daily dose of challenges and hurdles. More so if you are a woman. But what happens when you decide to take on the mighty and powerful?

Apparently, it’s business as usual. “If I’m alive and kicking and able to deliver a TED talk before you all, you can imagine the robust protection and the law available to the bureaucrats,” said Roopa D Moudgil, a senior IPS officer, in her riveting TEDx talk (video above).

The first Kannadiga woman to become an IPS officer in Karnataka, Moudgil is currently serving as the Inspector General of Police, which obviously puts her in the line of fire. The former Deputy Inspector General (Prisons) was in the public eye recently for alleging that AIADMK General Secretary VK Sasikala had received special facilities in Bengaluru’s Parappana Agrahara jail – an accusation hotly contested by Karnataka’s Director General of Police HN Satyanarayana Rao.

No stranger to defamation and privilege motion notices, Moudgil spoke of how she powered her way through political pressure. It’s a course of action available to all bureaucrats, she said. “I find many of the fears of bureaucrats to be unfounded and baseless.”

What is it like being a woman in a male-dominated police force? “The peril is that the woman officer could be ignored, taken for granted, taken lightly, her instructions can be thrown to air (sic) at times,” Moudgil said.

Quoting Karl Marx, who “once said bureaucracy is an iron cage”, Moudgil ended her talk with both regret and optimism: “I find that our bureaucrats have chained themselves. They are the ones holding the chains. The day they break away from these self-imposed chains, the day they start exercising their real powers, we will see a new India.”

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