“Bask in the moment and make the best of it”
Senior IAS officer Ms Manisha Mhaiskar loves to travel, explore, learn new cuisines and is a prolific writer. A believer in Karma and Destiny, she takes each day as it comes. At home, her world revolves around her kid twin daughters.
Everyone has that one person in life that either influences or inspires them. Seeing others accomplish great things, overcome adversity and through words that motivate! Senior IAS Officer Ms Manisha Mhaiskar, recently posted as Maharashtra’s Environment Secretary, didn’t have to look far for inspiration. It came from her father, himself an IAS officer. Her story accentuates that to be successful, one has to use each day as an opportunity to improve, to be better, to get a little bit closer to your goals. It might sound like a lot of work—and with a busy schedule, next to impossible but Ms Mhaiskar has made it possible with a very functional and pragmatic approach to her work and life.
Although her first role model was in her own house, Ms Mhaiskar was initially not keen on a career in civil services. As a merit student in the 12th, she had decided to pursue MBBS, like most students do. She even got admission in the Government Medical College Nagpur – in those days billed as the biggest in Asia – but somewhere her inner voice kept poking her conscience to go for the IAS. Having accompanied her father on his tours and seen him work, the shift was wittingly happening. In the tug of war between MBBS and IAS, she chose to go with the call of her heart. There was also the Plan B of joining the five-year LLB course but as events unfolded, the 1992 batch IAS officer realized it was rendered redundant.
Ms Mhaiskar subscribes to the philosophy of “living in the moment”. For her, life is “now” and that is the reason she is at peace with herself. A fierce believer in the Theory of Karma, she looks at each of her posting with immense satisfaction. Obviously, there is neither remorse nor regrets. “Life is fraught with unpredictability; There is no sense in dwelling in the past nor any purpose in gloating over the future,” she philosophizes. Her firm conviction in giving herself a “me time” has enabled her to work fearlessly in the current pandemic. “It is about the moment, not about past or future. She has imbibed this technique and been using it successfully. So even treating herself to a large mug of coffee is an abiding pleasure. The affection and warm moments spent in the company of her baby twin daughters is an icing on the cake. They are moments to cherish, treasure and share.
While most people are grappling to come to terms with the new Work from Home culture, Ms Mhaiskar finds completely at ease with it. “It gives so much flexibility and the options to work from different work stations. Cumbersome schedules and exhaustive work are part of life and she accepts them gratefully but she has simple recipes to break from the daily skullduggery. She loves to travel wherever and whenever she can. Although she has travelled US and Europe, even a short trip in the rural interiors or dense jungles is rejuvenating. For her travelling is an experience per se where she gets to acquaint with different people, different cultures and savour different cuisines. The cuisines, peculiar to the areas where she has travelled, are tried and tasted at home. So it is not merely about discovering the joy of new places but to merge into the ambience and flow. The Mhaiskars make it a point to use local transport like buses whenever they step out to travel. When abroad, they preferred the metro rides. Her husband Mr Milind Mhaiskar also, IAS and currently the Principal Secretary of Forest Department is her ideal companion.
Having started their career almost paralelly, the bonding between Ms Manisha and Mr Milind is not only that of an ideal couple but also one of being good compatriots. With both serving at the same postings most of the times, it helped them to understand each other better and eventually, they found, they had similar tastes and choices. Travelling and exploring new places was among them. Mr Milind stood by her through thick and thin and the friendship only strengthened over the passage of time.
Reading and writing are two other important passions like the proverbial two sides of a coin. While she reads a lot, she writes extensively and believes in drafting her own work. She recalls that Law was not difficult but Political Science was a completely alien to her ethos. After the aptitude test, her professor brought this trait of hers out saying she had the ability to write very well and had a poetic narration to it. She has nurtured this predilection towards writing even today when time is in scarce supply. Explaining the importance of striking a good work-life balance, she opines that the endeavour should be to do justice to both and derive happiness.
To all those women aiming for IAS, she has a message. “The opportunities are many. Women should exercise the freedom of choice. I look to each new day that brings new challenges. Do your best and thank the Almighty for a day well spent,” she signs up.