New Delhi: Anna Rajam Malhotra, India’s first female IAS officer after Independence, stands as an enduring source of inspiration for countless women who aspire to join the civil services. She exemplified the finest qualities of determination and hard work, breaking through the glass ceiling and paving the path for future generations of women in India.
Born as Anna Rajam George in the Ernakulam district of Kerala in 1927, she relocated to Chennai after completing her schooling in Kozhikode to pursue higher education at the University of Madras.
Anna Rajam Malhotra embarked on her civil services journey in 1951, a period when entrenched gender stereotypes presented formidable challenges. Choosing the Madras cadre, she served in the Madras state under the leadership of the then Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, C. Rajagopalachari. She married her batchmate, RN Malhotra, who later served as the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India from 1985 to 1990.
Anna Rajam Malhotra, India’s pioneering female IAS officer, earned recognition for her pivotal role in establishing the country’s modern port—Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), located near Mumbai. She assumed the position of chairperson during the project’s execution, a responsibility assigned as part of her deputation in the Central government.
In recognition of her distinguished civil service career, Anna Rajam Malhotra was honored with the Padma Bhushan Award in 1989, India’s third-highest civilian accolade.
During her illustrious career, Anna Rajam Malhotra served under seven chief ministers of Tamil Nadu. She collaborated closely with former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi when he oversaw the 1982 Asian Games in Delhi. Additionally, she contributed her expertise to the personnel section of the Union Home Ministry during her tenure in central services.
After retiring from her official duties, Malhotra served as a director of Hotel Leela Venture Ltd. She passed away at the age of 91 at her residence in suburban Andheri, Mumbai. The journey of Anna Rajam Malhotra exemplifies how unwavering determination, resilience, and unwavering dedication can propel individuals towards the realization of their dreams.