The IRS Officer Who Feeds the Poor When Off-Duty

When she isn’t at work, Deputy Commissioner of Income Tax, Mumbai, Dr Megha Bhargava organises health camps, food and school kits for underprivileged kids.

By Shweta Bhandral

The 35-year-old Deputy Commissioner of Income Tax, Mumbai, Dr Megha Bhargava radiates enthusiasm and energy. Having cleared her first civil service exam while working as a doctor, she got posted in Nainital cantonment under the Indian Defence Services.

“My belief and commitment towards selfless service to the nation come from working with the armed forces,” she says. In her second attempt at the civil services exam, she got the Indian Revenue Service (IRS), and after training in Nagpur, she has been posted in Mumbai since 2015.

Megha Bhargav

Despite her career success, something was missing. “There was a lot of satisfaction in terms of how we at IRS are contributing to the national exchequer for building the nation but what we can’t see is the direct impact of it. This is the missing link,” says Megha, noting that 41 percent of her city-folk live in slums.

“I began to think that there was more to my life than looking into balance sheets of corporate houses. I believe that my story should resonate with the person I believe I am and my place in society.”

And so, supported by her sister, a health professional, and her mother, a retired school principal, Megha got out of her comfort zone to work at the grassroot level for health and education. While her sister Dr Ruma Bhargava founded the NGO Samarpan in 2016 and is the trustee, Megha became its driving force and roped in several doctors and civil servants on board.

The NGO provides essential health services in the interiors of Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand. They conduct diagnostic and treatment camps in villages, mainly treating nutritional deficiency, skin disorders, eye problems and conducting awareness sessions on hygiene and nutrition.

Megha adds, “Topics of menstrual health are still taboo, and girls miss school or drop out after attaining puberty.” To counter this, Samarpan conducts regular sessions for adolescent girls and provides them with biodegradable sanitary pads. They also provide ‘Adhyan Kits’ to encourage children to go to school, including shoes, bags and stationery.

Megha’s NGO organises meals, stationery, bags, shoes and biodegradable sanitary napkins for schoolkids

With COVID striking the nation, the Samarpan team tied up with government bodies, companies and citizen groups to serve home-cooked meals to daily-wagers, migrant labourers, tribals, old-age homes and orphanages across four cities. In all, they have served 5 lakh cooked meals, distributed 25,000 milk packets and dry rations for a month to 25,000 families.

Megha believes that people have to be brave enough to care: “Significance in life doesn’t come from status or any position of power. It comes from serving. It is in giving to others that we find meaning.”

First published as part of a three-part series ‘Power and Passion’ on women bureaucrats in eShe’s June 2020 issue

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