If the right opportunity is given to Muslim women, they can achieve anything and scale any heights. Nagma Muhammad Fareed who is appointed as the Joint Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs, held by Sushma Swaraj, is a fine example for this. Nagma Fareed is the first Muslim woman who was selected for the coveted Indian Foreign Service ( IFS ) post in India and she is also the first Muslim woman who is working in an important position with the External affairs Minister.

1920 and 1930s Muslim Community of Kerala and Karnataka was very backward. But a boy from ‘Pudipura family’ of Chemanadu village in Kasaragodu, situated on the bank of Chandragiri river, started going to primary school in Kasaragodu crossing the river during those days. He completed his high school in Mangaluru and left for Madras ( now Chennai) for college education. He got two degrees from the university and became an advocate. After returning to Kasaragodu, he started his profession as advocate and became famous as ‘Vakeel Ahmed’.

Nagma Muhammad Fareed is the daughter of this illustrious father Ahmed. Ahmed has sent his three sons to Madras for higher education. Against the existing practice in Muslim community at that time, Ahmed  sent his only daughter to school. She was the only Muslim girl who had completed metric education during that time in the district.

Nagma was very good in her studies and secured good marks at Schools and colleges . Her parents wanted her to become a doctor.  But the ambition of Fathima Nagma was different. She wanted to write IAS exam. She was educated at St Stephen's College & Delhi School of Economics. She holds a bachelor's degree in English Literature and a master's degree in Sociology. She appeared for IAS ( UPSC) exams in 1990.  She secured a rank within 100. Due to her good ranking she got the opportunity to select the foreign service . So, Nagma selected Foreign service and joined in the batch of 1991.

In the beginning, she served in France, Arab countries, Sri Lanka, Nepal and other countries in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Later, she was appointed first as the Indian High Commissioner to Thailand and later as the Indian  Ambassador  to Tunisia.  Before this posting, she served as a staff officer to Prime Minister I.K. Gujral. She then served as the first woman Deputy Chief of Protocol (Ceremonial).For the last three years, she was serving as Indian High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam.

Now, she is elevated as the Joint Secretary to Foreign Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. One of her brother is serving in high rank in the Indian Air Force.


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Seoul (AP): Rescue workers were combing through the charred ruins of a factory building near South Korea's capital to find any more fire victims Tuesday, a day after a devastating blaze likely triggered by exploding lithium batteries killed 22 people, mostly Chinese migrant workers.

More than 100 people were working at the factory in Hwaseong city, just south of Seoul, when the fire tore through it Monday morning. Security cameras showed smoke engulfing the second-floor worksite of the factory, soon after sparks were detected from a site where lithium batteries were stored, fire officials said.

One victim was pronounced dead at a hospital, and fire workers retrieved 21 bodies from the factory one by one later Monday. Eighteen victims were Chinese, two were South Korean and one was Laotian. The nationality of one of the dead was being verified.

Many Chinese people, including ethnic Koreans, have migrated to South Korea to find jobs since China and South Korea established diplomatic ties in 1992.

Like other migrant labourers from Southeast Asian countries, they often work in factories, construction sites and restaurants, engaging in the so-called “difficult, dangerous and dirty” jobs that are shunned by more affluent South Koreans.

Chinese Ambassador Xing Haiming visited the factory site on Monday night and reportedly expressed condolences to the victims. Police were extracting DNA samples from the dead bodies and their potential relatives to confirm their relations, according to fire officials.

One factory worker remains out of contact but his mobile phone signal was detected at the building on Monday afternoon. Eight were injured, two of them in serious condition.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol also visited the factory site Monday. He expressed condolences to the dead people and ordered officials to put in place measures to effectively deal with battery-related fires, according to Yoon's office.

On Tuesday, more than 50 fire officers, aided by two rescue dogs and other equipment, were mobilized to continue searching the burned factory, local fire official Kim Jin-young told a televised briefing. He said partial remains had been discovered but it wasn't immediately known if they belonged to the missing person.

Kim said a separate team of fire, police and other experts were also set to examine the site later Tuesday to investigate what exactly caused the blaze. Labour officials said the government will separately investigate whether any safety issues were involved in the fire. The factory is owned by a battery manufacturer, Aricell.

Most of the dead workers were daily labourers so they were not likely familiar with the building's internal structure, senior fire officer Jo Seon-ho told reporters Monday.

He said the video of the fire site showed they rushed to an area where there was no exit after failing to put out the blaze with fire extinguishers. He said the victims likely inhaled toxic smoke.

Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries are ubiquitous in consumer goods from laptops to cellphones. They can overheat if damaged, defective or packaged improperly, leading to fires and explosions and making them a hazard for shipment aboard aircraft.

Monday's blaze is one of the deadliest in South Korea in recent years.

In 2020, a fire at a warehouse being built in Icheon City, south of Seoul, killed 38 construction workers. In 2018, 46 people died after a fire ripped through a small hospital with no sprinkler systems in the southern city of Miryang.

In 2008, 40 workers, 12 of them ethnic Koreans with Chinese nationality, died after a fire and accompanying explosions tore through a refrigerated warehouse in Icheon city.

South Korea has struggled for decades to improve safety standards and change widespread attitudes that regard safety as subservient to economic progress and convenience.