When 1983-batch IAS officer Keshni Anand Arora Sunday took over as Haryana’s new Chief Secretary, she made history by becoming the third sister from a family to hold top administrative post of the state. Bureaucrats in Haryana believe that in no other part of the country, three sisters have ever risen to the post of the Chief Secretary of a state.
Keshni took over the assignment after the retirement of Chief Secretary D S Dhesi on Sunday. Till now, Keshni was Haryana’s Additional Chief Secretary (Revenue). Due to retire on September 30, 2020, she will be able to retain the post for more than a year.
“Good governance and transparency in the system will be my top priority,” Keshni told The Indian Express on Sunday. “I will focus on implementing flagship schemes of the central and state government apart from working for inclusive growth.”
Keshni’s eldest sister, Meenakshi Anand Chaudhary, a 1969-batch IAS officer, was first woman Chief Secretary of Haryana. Later, her elder sister Urvashi Gulati, 1975-batch IAS officer, also held this position. Chaudhary retired from the post of Chief Secretary in 2005, while Gulati had held the post till 2012. Their father, Prof J C Anand, taught Political Science in Panjab University and all three daughters were also his students.
“My mother, a housewife, always used to say that it is studying that makes a difference. Both parents were source of motivation for us,” recalls Keshni. Keshni lost her father three years back, while her mother had died earlier.
Each of the three sisters not only topped their post graduation in Political Science, but also cleared the Civil Services Examination in the first attempt and were allotted the Haryana cadre.
Keshni had topped the girls in IAS batch of 1983. She is MBA from University of Western Sydney, Australia. She was appointed the first lady Deputy Commissioner in Haryana when the government had given her responsibility to lead administration in Yamunanagar in 1990. During her tenure there, she played an important role in implementation of adult literacy through voluntary organisations apart from handling law and order situation during the Mandal Commission stir.
As Principal Secretary Tourism, she introduced online system for reservation of Haryana Tourism rooms and facilities with online payment gateway, which was replicated by other states/central government organisations.
She also worked as Deputy Director General, UIDAI, Regional Office, Chandigarh with Government of India, wherein she was instrumental in implementing Aadhaar and Aadhaar applications in the states of Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh (UT), Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir and linkage of Aadhaar with LPG. She had contributed significantly in implementing Aadhaar-based DBT (Direct Benefit Transfer) in MGNREGA, various scholarships and social welfare pensions and other DBT schemes. “The state could save crores of rupees due to Aadhaar based de-duplication of beneficiaries,” said an official.
Keshni also worked as state’s Additional Chief Secretary (School Education) where she was directly associated in preparing the online Teachers Transfer Policy for school teachers. This was implemented as first of its kind initiative in the country and many states/central organisations replicated this initiative.
As Additional Chief Secretary (Revenue), she conceptualised and implemented many innovative e-governance projects like e-registration of properties, mandatory e-stamping, online PAN verification. The implementation of these e-governance initiatives and close monitoring helped the state in collection of Rs 5679.45 crore as registration fee and stamp duty in the year 2018-19, which is Rs 1414.27 crore higher than 2017-18 (more than 33 per cent) and highest in the history of Haryana.