Rohini Divakar, Joint Director of Income Tax, Investigation and the ex-officio Secretary Regional Economic Intelligence Council, Chennai, (REIC) is an IRS-IT officer of repute. She has been in the Indian Administrative Services for many years now and has made a mark for herself.
I grew up in Davangere in central Karnataka. My father Shri Divakar was an engineer and is now retired from BSNL and my mother Smt Hemavathi was also in a responsible position in the Department of Post. I have an elder sister who has been my inspiration Roopa Moudgil, an IPS officer. She is the reason why I chose this line of work. Both of us studied in a school called Saint Paul’s Convent in Davangere and we had a very good academic record and excelled in now extra curriculars as well. Every year, we would win the general proficiency prize, which is given to outstanding academic record students. Every year for my batch, I would win the general proficiency and my sister for her batch.
I was an NCC Cadet and that also instilled a lot of confidence and leadership qualities in me. I was awarded the best cadet for the contingent of Karnataka and Goa and I represented the contingent of Karnataka and Goa in Delhi in two Republic Day parades in 1997 and 2001, owing to a good performance in NCC service subjects as well as extra-curricular activities like dance, music, integration awareness, presentation and public speaking. I was selected for youth exchange programme to represent India at United Kingdom. I was the all-India topper in that selection test and represented India at United Kingdom in 2001, in the youth exchange programme.
By the time I came to the stage of making a career choice, my sister had already carved a niche in the Indian Police Service and was a household name to reckon within Karnataka. She had earned a very good name for herself as an efficient and competent officer with integrity. So, that inspired me and civil services became my natural career choice. Once I got into service, I underwent training at the National Academy of Direct Taxes, Nagpur, after the foundation course in Hyderabad.
After that, my first posting was in Chennai and then subsequently in Bangalore, that is my hometown. In my very first posting, as a Deputy Commissioner of Income Tax Bangalore, I was given a very challenging post of assessing the media circle in the media and entertainment Industry. So that was my jurisdiction and I mounted an income tax raid on a very famous Kannada film music director, after a lot of painstaking groundwork and this went on to create commotion in the entertainment industry of Karnataka. That year, this raid sent signals across the entertainment industry as a true demonstrated effect. And that is why the tax collection that year was at an all-time high in that particular jurisdiction of media and entertainment industry.
Another highpoint of this stint was attacking the bank account of a prominent politically controlled news media house, which had defaulted on taxes. After repeated opportunities given to them, that had fallen on deaf ears. So, I escalated the action to a stern one, by freezing their bank accounts and immediately the media house fell in line and coughed up the taxes.
Following this and considering this competence that I displayed in this stint, I was given the challenging post of assessment of the infamous mining cases of Karnataka, that had spread its tentacles to the nearby neighbouring states as well. It was a Supreme Court monitored case and we unearthed about 800 crores of undisclosed income; all black money generated out of illegal mining activity. I’m happy to share that all my assessment orders have been upheld by the appellate authorities. That is a vindication of my work.
Subsequent to this, I came to this posting in Chennai and have been working here ever since. Currently, I am Additional Director of Income Tax Investigation and I am the Secretary of Regional Economic Intelligence Council, which in its finality reports to the Finance Minister of India and is involved in crucial operations against black money. It is heartening to share that the REIC, Chennai was ranked among the top three REIC’s in the country, based on detection of economic offences, additional revenues realised and crucial intelligence that have a bearing on national security. I’m so happy to share that all this happened under my leadership. That’s the window into my professional life.
I’m married to Saroj Thakur, an IPS officer of Tamil Nadu cadre and blessed with two sons. It is difficult to find the time to pursue my interests, but I do take some time out of my busy schedule and practice my Carnatic music lessons now and then. I’m a trained Carnatic singer and also trained in Bharatanatyam. I don’t get time to practice my dance, but I still pursue my music. I love to write and have a flair for writing. I have written a few articles for many publications and was a regular in the column of mind space and wrote on issues related to women empowerment, children, development and social issues. I do have a few other interests, but usually don’t find much time to give space to those interests. I am a shooter in the 10-metre air pistol category, but that is one interest which has taken a back burner, because of lack of time, as you know this cannot be practiced at home, unlike music and dance. You need a proper range and since this involves traveling and taking time out, it has taken a back seat.
Challenges and Opportunities:
There are challenges in everybody’s profession and challenge for me comes in the form of pressures, either from within the professional circles or outside. So, one has to learn to withstand certain pressing issues. Not just work-related ones, but since I handle a lot of sensitive matters, there could be some external pressures to “tone down” a few things. But if you’re firm and have handled yourself with impeccable integrity, I believe, nobody can do anything to you. Thank God I have a good support system at home. My sister, my parents and my husband are very supportive of me and are like my rock-solid support system. I owe it to the guidance of my sister and the constant support of my husband, who understand the intensity and complexity of my work and offer inputs, insights and guidance. So, it’s a balance of one’s own personality to be able to withstand pressure and see things in an assertive manner, to put yourself assertively in your work, while getting support from your family members. That helps in coping with the challenges. I’ve always believed that hard work pays off. I truly believe that God sees and one has to wait patiently for his blessings. Many a times hard work may not immediately get rewarded, but your perseverance will show results sometime later.