Sujata Saunik Shatters Glass Ceiling as Maharashtra’s First Woman Chief Secretary


In a historic move, Sujata Saunik, a 1987-batch IAS officer, has been appointed as the 45th Chief Secretary of Maharashtra. This marks a monumental achievement, making her the first woman to hold this prestigious position since the state’s formation in 1960.

Saunik succeeds Nitin Kareer, who retired on Sunday. She is a highly experienced administrator, having served in crucial departments like Home, General Administration, Skill Development, Finance, and Public Health. Notably, she was considered a frontrunner for the Chief Secretary post alongside Rajesh Kumari (1987 batch) and Iqbal Chahal (1989 batch).

Expressing her vision, Saunik emphasized her focus on efficient delivery of government services and effective implementation of recently announced welfare schemes. She highlighted Maharashtra’s strengths, acknowledging its robust industrial base, flourishing startup ecosystem, and significant revenue generation through GST. “I look forward to the support and feedback from not only my colleagues but also the public representatives and community members,” she stated.

Saunik’s appointment holds further significance. The MahaYuti government’s recent slew of women-centric proposals likely played a role in her selection, coinciding with the implementation of the state’s Fourth Women Policy. This historic moment is further amplified by the fact that her husband, Manoj Saunik (also a 1987-batch IAS officer), previously held the Chief Secretary position from April to September 2023 – a unique instance in the state bureaucracy where both spouses have served as the top administrator.

Maharashtra is now witnessing a leadership shift with two women at the helm of key administrative positions. Saunik takes charge alongside Rashmi Shukla, an IPS officer of the 1988 batch, who currently serves as the state’s Director General of Police.

Saunik’s reputation precedes her. Known for her meticulous approach and unwavering commitment, she brings over three decades of experience in public policy and governance. Her extensive work at the district, state, and federal levels, coupled with her experience with international organizations like the United Nations, equips her exceptionally for this challenging role.

Despite being a senior officer, Saunik was previously bypassed for the Chief Secretary position when her husband was appointed and again when Nitin Kareer (1988 batch) was chosen. However, her perseverance and dedication have finally paved the way for her to break the glass ceiling and become an inspiration for aspiring women leaders.

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