Lalitha Rajendran- “My roots are in rural India. So, I would definitely do something to better the lot of farmers,” says the young woman, born in Kurichi near Karur. Full of hope and anticipation for the future, she admits she has much to learn. “I have a goal – to reach the people. Twenty years ago, a little girl in Srinagar, watched awestruck while two young ladies were being ushered in with great respect by high-ranking officers-men who were senior to her father, an engineer with the Border Roads Organisation. Her father pointed out the women as IAS officers. That day, the little girl silently resolved to become an IAS officer. She soon followed her father to Assam, Nagaland and Pune. She changed schools, but the dream stayed. One fine morning in Tiruchi, it all fell into place when Lalitha Rajendran found her name at Number 12 on the civil service examination result list. And her joy knew no bounds when she realised she was number one in the State. “It was a pleasant surprise,” is all Lalitha Rajendran can say to describe the moment she had long dreamt of. After a succession of schools across India, Lalitha joined R.S.K Higher Secondary School, when her family shifted to Tiruchi. After graduating as a civil engineer from Periyar Maniyemmai College, Thanjavur, she started out as junior executive engineer with the Airports Authority of India (AAI), while simultaneously preparing for the civil service exams. Lalitha cites Vachani’s transformation of Tiruvalarchipatti by introducing sewage treatment in the leather tanneries as the very act that made her realize she too could make a difference. After two unsuccessful attempts and a third attempt when she made it to the list at No. 573, Lalitha went into depression. Not the one to give up, she decided to approach the exams with renewed determination and confidence. Quitting her lucrative job at the AAI was not the easiest of decisions, but her confidence and her parent’s support saw her through. “If your goal is clear, failures will not deter you. From childhood, I had a fixed goal- to become an IAS officer. Though I liked my job with the AAI, I was not completely happy, because I felt out of place. This (IAS) was my destiny, this was my dream,” she justifies. As an IAS officer, Lalitha wants to ensure that government schemes are implemented and people are made aware of the schemes available to them. We salute you !