Featured 30 Jun 2022 Doodling her way to ...

Doodling her way to a stress-free life

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | SWATI SHARMA
Published Jun 30, 2022, 2:07 pm IST
Updated Jun 30, 2022, 2:07 pm IST
T K Sreedevi with her son Sai Madhav (Photo by arrangement)
 T K Sreedevi with her son Sai Madhav (Photo by arrangement)

Long meetings, sifting through dozens of files and multitasking are par for the course for T K Sreedevi. But despite the stress that goes with the territory, the Secretary, Finance Department, Government of Telanagana, is always smiling and focused.

All she needs to keep tensions at bay is a pen and some paper. Her go-to stress-busting activity is doodling. The IAS officer claims doodlers are less stressed and have less negativity than others. “Doodles can also help you remember information better,” she says. The activity  enables people to express their creativity while improving their mood, and also helps the brain increase psychological resilience, she explains.

Sreedevi was born in Hyderabad into a traditional Rajput family and attended Vidyodaya High School before earning a bachelor’s degree from St Francis College.

“In school, I loved to paint and won prizes in every on-the-spot painting competition that I participated in,” says Sreedevi, who went on to do a Masters in Psychology and English Literature from Osmania University.

Her father, TK Sivaram Singh, worked as an engineer for the APSEB, while her mother, TK Indira, looked after the home. Sreedevi is the youngest of seven siblings. While her elder brother, an IPS officer, recently retired, one of her sisters is on deputation with the Rural Development Department in the Finance Department.

Sreedevi took a doctorate in Agricultural Development from the International Crop Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). She thoroughly enjoyed the research work, she says. It was similar to childbirth and early parenting, according to her.

“Work-life balance is critical. I joined the service 22 years ago and have a knack for balancing both,” says the bureaucrat.

Except when she was the District Collector of Mahabubnagar (a large district with 14 Assembly Constituencies and 2 Parliamentary Constituencies), the IAS officer never had a problem with time management. “I’ve always believed in using IT to improve governance and monitoring,” says the 2004-batch bureaucrat.

She was able to meet professional demands thanks to time management, work delivery planning, and the use of technology. As Collector, she digitised Prajavani, the grievances day, and monitored grievance resolution. As Commissioner and Director of Municipal Administration, she digitised 28 municipal services and provided online grievance redressal through the Citizen Buddy app and Citizen Services Centres.

Her other significant contributions include Property Mapping of 14 lakh urban properties in 73 Urban Local Bodies,  and revenue improvement, which earned her a place at the Prime Minister’s Coffee Table meet in 2018. Her initiatives won her numerous good governance awards.

Surprisingly, despite her hectic schedule, Sreedevi never hired a nanny to look after her son, Sai Madhav Singh. “I cared for my son on my own, with the assistance of my mother. During my time at ICRISAT, I travelled with my son on my back like Jhansi ki Rani,” the officer laughs. (Sai Madhav, who is studying Mathematics and Computer Science in the UK, is a speed cuber who holds the National Record for ‘Skewb.’) “I am waiting to learn the fundamentals of mathematics from my son,” says the proud mother.

Sreedevi enjoys travelling. “I’ve travelled across Europe and the United States, as well as in Asia and Africa as a Watersheds Scientist,” says the bureaucrat. She now does a lot of leisure travel, which includes nature trips and amusement and shopping trips. She also tries to find out more about the architecture and educational institutions of the places she visits.

Gita abhyas is her favourite pastime. “I identify as a nonreligious person who enjoys studying life philosophy. As a trained psychologist, I enjoy observing people and instilling mutual respect. I empathise with colleagues,,” she adds.
Sreedevi isn’t big on cooking. “Both my mother and my son are excellent cooks. I used to cook only when I was at Duke University in North Carolina, USA, for my long-term training, to feed my then-8-year-old son,” says Sreedevi, who enjoys street food, especially pani puri. She loves  biryani, along with the majority of Hyderabadis. The IAS officer also regularly goes for early morning walks in KBR. “I do yoga and meditation too,” says the coffee addict, who rarely watches movies or television.

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