Dungarpur district collector Manju Rajpal’s primary objective for joining the Indian Administrative Services (IAS) was to be able to adopt destitute girl children and to be an inspiration for other young IAS officers.
Rajpal, 34, is the topper among IAS women candidates in the 2000 batch and also the winner of the best district collector’s award in 2006 for implementing the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. Believe it or not, she is a contented person today, she says, as she has achieved her goal and legally adopted three girl children. Three-and-a-half-year-old Mohana Rajpal is studying in a local school at Banswara, one of the tribal districts in Rajasthan. Her two other girls, Meera and Gauri, are now being brought up quite like the children of a bureaucrat.
“I knew that it will not be possible to fulfill this dream unless I enjoy a respectable position in the society, which will help me take decisions as an independent person,” Rajpal says, adding “being from an orthodox middle-class business family and one of three sisters, it was not possible for my father to send everyone for higher studies. But I was focussed on my goal and privately passed BA.”
After her graduation, her father gave her permission to compete for the Rajasthan Administrative Services examination where she was successful and went on to compete for the union civil services examination, where she was ranked sixth, she says.
Rajpal adopted three baby girls when they were barely one or a few days old and were abandoned by their mothers. “I opted for a day-old baby girl because it gave me an opportunity to bring her up in my house like a mother. It also made sure that she will never ask me about her real mother.” Rajpal’s sister, Darshna Gupta, an administrative officer at Udaipur, has also adopted a girl child. Nearly 30 like-minded officials have formed a group, which is involved in taking care of the destitute girl children.
On life ahead and plans about marriage, Rajpal said, “I do not have any plan so far. But if someone makes a marriage proposal to me then he will have to accept everything I have got, and my three children.”