Lockdown Routines: The Significant Change In Schedule Is Not Unnerving For Dr Shefali Dash, As She’s Pursuing Other Interests

In our special series, former Director General of National Informatics Centre says her life has not come to a standstill because she is not visiting a mall or socialising

“Lockdown has taught me that it is not the end of the world if we do not go to the mall, cinema or a get together of close friends,” says the soft spoken Dr Shefali Dash. She has been on the forefront of India’s IT revolution and is the former Director General National Informatics Centre. 

Trained as a Plasma Physicist, she completed her doctoral thesis at the Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad, followed by a stint at the Culham Laboratory, UK. After returning to India, she  joined the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, as a Pool Officer under CSIR. 

Thereafter, she  got an offer and joined National Informatics Centre (NIC), Government of India, as a scientist. 

“My responsibility at NIC was to introduce the use of Information Technology tools in the ministries to improve efficiency and transparency in governance” she said.

Associated with many successful eGovernance activities under the umbrella of Digital India during her 30 year career, she retired from NIC after reaching the top as Director General.

Her retirement years are spent delivering lectures on e- Governance, cyber security and other  areas of IT in degree colleges as well as universities besides writing and reviewing articles for  publication. Pursuing hobbies like reading and gardening also take up a lot of her spare time.

The present lockdown, she says, has led to a significant change in her daily schedule. “The first change is, we are not able to go out for our morning walk which has been a regular feature in our life for the last thirty five  years. Secondly, I have to spend about 2 to 3 hours every day doing  household chores like cooking and cleaning, which were normally done by the maids before lockdown.”

Interestingly, she has found some positive aspects in this present scenario too. 

“Since I am cooking myself, our meals are much tastier and healthier now. As the gardener is also not coming, I spend more time taking care of the plants in my handkerchief garden, which kind of compensates for the lack of morning walk.” 

Even though household chores do not leave her with much time, the fact that she does not have to go out makes her  feel “calm and stress free”.She spends quality time with her family video chatting and gets more time now to read and sew. She has stitched a few masks using her husband’s old T-shirts and her unused silk sarees, which are good for distributing among the colony’s security staff and maids.

“I am currently reading a book entitled ‘Prophecy: What the Future Holds For You’ by Sylvia Browne. What intrigues me most about this book is, though it was electronically published in 2006, it talks about an influenza like disease, which will require people to come out in public, wearing masks and gloves by 2020”.

The world is not going to be the same again, she says, as even her  grandchildren, aged ten and six respectively, agreed to  cancel their much-awaited birthday parties scheduled in March voluntarily due to the COVID-19 scare, though they were planning for these parties since January itself.


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