India’s first woman IAS officer after Independence, Anna Rajam Malhotra, who served in the Madras State under then Chief Minister C. Rajagopalachari and at the Central government, died in Mumbai on 17 September 2018. She was 91.
Born Anna Rajam George in Kerala’s Ernakulam district in July 1927, she moved to Chennai after her schooling in Kozhikode to pursue higher education at the University of Madras. She later married R.N. Malhotra, who served as Governor of the Reserve Bank of India from 1985 to 1990.
Ms Malhotra joined the civil services in 1951 and opted for the Madras cadre. Though the interview board sought to convince her that the Foreign Service and the Central Services were “suitable for women”, she insisted on joining the civil service.
Ms Malhotra, who was trained in horse riding and shooting, was first posted in Hosur as a Sub Collector. During her tenure, she refused to issue orders to kill six elephants that had entered a village. Instead, she successfully managed the operation to drive the pachyderms back to the forests.
The officer worked under seven Chief Ministers and also with Rajiv Gandhi, when as an MP in 1982, he was in-charge of the Asian Games project in Delhi. Ms. Malhotra also accompanied former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on an eight-nation tour and had served in the personnel section of the Union Home Ministry.