At workplace there is no gender, says L Tochhong, who was the first Mizo woman to join the Indian Administrative Service in 1979 and who completed her last day in office on Friday. Dressed in a green t-shirt and track-pants, L Tochhong sits in the living room of her official residence on her last day of work and says, “I do not like to feel that I am a woman because that means I am insecure and I do not want that to be a drawback for me.”
Two years after she joined the service, L Tochhong became not only the first woman to become the Chief Secretary of Mizoram but also the first Mizo woman to hold the post. Upon her superannuation, she has been appointed as the State Election Commissioner.
During her career she also served in Maharashtra (as a probationer in Thane), Goa, Delhi (first as Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Tiz Hazare, and as director in the MHA) and later in her home-state of Mizoram.
At work she follows a difficult thumb rule, “I have never felt my gender, frankly speaking… Maybe at times, on some rare occasion. But I always quickly discourage that kind of feeling.”
“I would advise women to never let that be a drawback. In a workplace there is no gender. Even if they try to put you down… I think one should build up that barrier so that you are never touched by these things,” she adds. L Tochhong has almost always worn the traditional Mizo wraparound called puan to work. “Everyday!” she says of her attire, “even when I was posted outside Mizoram. I thi-nk puan is very elegant. I suppose I stood out among fellow female officers sometimes.”