A prominent news magazine in the country, Outlook, ran a blind piece about this young upcoming IAS officer in their gossip column, Deep Throat.
Picture courtesy Facebook
A young IAS officer is hailed by politicians and the masses alike for going great guns in professional and personal life. What can possibly go wrong? No, not the usual suspect. Not slimy politicians or greedy land sharks. For 38-year-old IAS officer Smita Sabharwal, currently working as Additional Secretary to Telengana CM K Chandrashekhar Rao, opposition came from an unlikely quarter.A prominent news magazine in the country, Outlook, ran a blind piece titled ‘No Boring Babu’ about the young, up and coming IAS officer in their regular gossip column, Deep Throat. The news piece stands out like sore thumb for casual sexism and insinuations. While the article doesn’t mention Smita by name, the clues were broad enough to easily guess the person it referred to. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As soon as the article was published, there was uproar on social media. Apart from the article, the cartoon associated with it also drew the ire of people. The cartoon showed the IAS officer walking down the ramp while a caricature of Telengana CM took a picture of her and other politicians leered in the background. The article describes the lady as serving as “eye candy at meetings” and castes aspersions at her presence in the CM’S office. The article states that there is no clarity about her role. It says that the ‘lovely lady’ has great ‘ethnic style’ and makes fashion statement in her appearance. It also quotes the dress she wore at a fashion ramp, where she wasn’t present in an official capacity. The controversial illustration which has been now taken down by OutlookNow Smita Sabharwal has decided to sue Outlook. In a five page legal document, published by The News Minute, which has been sent to the magazine by her lawyer, the article is described as “distasteful, cheap and titillating”. It says that Sabharwal was shocked and utterly taken aback by the article. Sabharwal has demanded a public apology from Outlook and has given them 15 days to comply with it failing which she has threatened to file civil and criminal suit against the magazine including defamation, damages and criminal action .In an interview to NDTV, Sabharwal further elaborated on the deep hurt and insult she felt after reading the article. She said that the write-up is an assault on the dignity of women in general and accused Outlook of resorting to yellow journalism. She said that it was a matter of professional pride and her hard work of 14 years was undermined by a frivolous news piece. She told the news channel that she had worked in districts for many years and had always been respected by people. She was also touched by the support for her in social media. 2001 batch IAS officer Sabharwal said that for every pervert, there are lakhs of sane people who respect women. She advised other women to not get demotivated by perverts. Sabharwal originally hails from West Bengal and stood 4th in the IAS exam. She joined the service at the age of 23 and has served with distinction in various roles assigned to her. Various projects she undertook were recognised with awards given by the Andhra Pradesh government. Under her service, Karimnagar district won the best district in PM’s 20 Point Programme for 2012-2013. A people’s officer, she is particularly known for using technology effectively to facilitate public work. This incident aptly shows that if a lady is good looking she will always be subjected to cheap insinuations no matter how credible her body of work is. The rot of misogyny runs deep and even media organisations touted as ‘liberal’ are not free from it.
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