Renu Raj earned laurels for Kerala when she finished the civil service exams with second rank in 2015, in her first attempt. The IAS officer has just made her home state proud by taking an uncompromising stand in the face of organised adversity.
Renu Raj, the sub collector of Devikulam which includes the Munnar area, was in the news last week when she squared up to local leaders during a clean-up drive against encroachments and illegal construction. Local leaders led by a CPM MLA blocked a team of officials from the revenue department which was dispatched to stop the construction of an industrial centre on the banks of the Muthirapuzha River. The building lacked the necessary authorisation.
The legislator, S Rajendran, intimidated the revenue officials and showered abuses on the sub collector.
Renu Raj refused to buck under pressure and submitted a report before the Kerala High Court. She found surprise support from many quarters. Even her boss, revenue minister E Chandrasekharan, came out in her defence.
Rajendran was forced to express regret at his outburst as his party colleagues refused to stand by him.
“I have no notion of changing society overnight,” Renu Raj told Manorama earlier. “I can guarantee you one thing. Nobody will have to approach me for a second time if they have a just demand.”
Renu Raj gave a shot at the civil service after completing the MBBS in the Kottayam Medical College. She is the daughter of V N Latha and Rajakumaran Nair, a retired DTO in the KSRTC.
Healing the administration
Renu Raj's parents always wanted her to be a doctor but they were thrilled when she raised the bar and became a civil servant in 2015.
“Had she remained a doctor, she could have helped only those patients who came to her. As an IAS officer, she can help lakhs of people,” Renu Raj's father told Manorama News when the results were publicised.
Renu Raj was a high school student when she asked her father to take her to an IAS officer. Rajakumaran Nair took her along to visit Kottayam collector Mini Antony. The officer was amused by the girl who wanted to know about the service. She talked to her at length, cleared her doubts and energised her with a comment that she could also be an IAS officer.
Though Renu Raj had a medical degree, she chose Malayalam as optional for the civil service exam. She counts O V Vijayan, Sugathakumari and O N V Kurup as her favourite authors.
Another of her idols is Padma Subramaniam, the danseuse. She has trained in classical dance and scored prizes in school-level competitions. She still practices the art as a fitness method and relaxation technique.