Society

Women in Power

Rohini Ramdas, Additional Collector (Development) and Project Officer, DRDA. Photo: G. Moorthy   | Photo Credit: G_Moorthy

“Women get empowered by their own challenges. The moment they come out of their comfort zone and take the lead, they figure out what it takes to achieve”. -- Rohini Ramdas Bhajibhakare, Additional Collector (Development)

“Just the way, a tea bag is put in hot water to get the right flavour and colour, women face oddities and take on challenges to emerge strong and the best.” -- Susie Varghese Principal Commissioner of Income Tax

“When women do things themselves and live the life they we believe in, they shine. Real empowerment comes with liberal thinking and that comes from education and requires a mindset overhaul.” -- J.Charukesi Post Master General Southern Region

These three women belong to different batches of the Civil Services. They come from different backgrounds and cities, speak different languages, have different interests and priorities. Yet, they are much alike. They hide a resilient spirit and have dared greatly. They know the triumph of hard work, sincerity, commitment and high achievement both in personal and professional lives. In these columns, we celebrate their efforts and contribution in shaping the society in the run up to International Women’s Day on March 8.

Rohini Ramdas Bhajibhakare, Indian Administrative Service 2008 batch

“I tell everybody now that I am lucky to be working in a big town like Madurai. I was born in a small village in a farmer’s family in Solapur district, Maharashtra, and studied in the Government school there. My father was my driving force. He always told me if you become somebody, you will be able to help others.

I topped the Maharashtra State Board Class X exams and secured sixth rank in class XII with highest scores in English, Hindi and Marathi. I got admission in one of the best Government Engineering colleges in Pune and promised my father that I will write the civil services exam but if I don’t clear it in the first attempt I will become an engineer.

I have always had the innate confidence of achieving something may be because at home my grandmother would always ask my mother why she was allowing me to study so much. In school, teachers never allowed girls to lead the parade contingent during Republic Day and Independence Day celebrations. I fought with them each year and finally given my academic excellence, they let me when I was in class XI. That day was a turning point in my life.

A woman always has to prove herself. So why not make use of every opportunity? We should be willing to take up every challenge, every responsibility that comes our way instead of shying away citing excuses. Also as a wife and a mother, it is very important for us to get rid of our guilty feeling of not spending enough time with the family or the child. If our freedom is curtailed, our creativity at work will suffer. My husband, an IPS Officer, is very supportive and believes in collective and shared responsibility.

In my job I try to give a gender dimension to the projects I take up. A woman’s dignity and honour has to be protected and I am all for the cause of safe sanitation for women. Recently, a visually handicapped girl in Melur attempted suicide because she felt humiliated asking somebody to accompany her to the open fields. I campaigned and ensured she gets an individual toilet house for herself – and that has been her single most empowerment.”

Susie Varghese, Indian Revenue Service, 1986 batch

“I have always been empowered because of my circumstances.

My schooling in Kendriya Vidyalaya Thiruvananthapuram, not only helped me to excel in academics but actively drew me to sports, debates, drama and extra-curricular activities. The springboard to my confidence was in class IX when I was selected by the school Principal to become the House Leader.

I love to travel, explore, meet new people and read a lot and never thought I was civil service material. I dreamt of becoming a journalist but worked as English lecturer for two years. All along, my parents, both professors of English, motivated me to join the bureaucracy. It was in my second attempt, when I was in the last trimester of pregnancy, I got the interview call from UPSC. I almost dropped the idea but my mother encouraged me to face the interview panel in Delhi.

My in-laws were very supportive as I had to leave my two months old son for the training at the Mussoorie Academy. My husband, a lawyer by profession, has been a pillar of strength. He helped me with study material when I was preparing for the civil services exam, took care of my children when I was away in the US on a Rotary programme for six months. I have been away from home on different postings but he has never complained.

When I have received so much support, understanding and love from my family, it fires my passion to give my best in my work. I feel nothing is impossible in life when we put our heart and soul into what we choose to do.

Two months after my delivery I had to participate in a cross country race at the Academy. I had never been an athlete but I decided to take on the challenge and I finished second. That day I realised sky is the limit if we are willing to walk that extra mile.

I try to make a difference in the lives of other women whichever way I can, as a boss, as a colleague and friend. I have empowered my household helper and today she has a PAN card, LIC policy, Aadhar card which she flashes with pride. I support the education of two girl children, who lost their mother. They are the granddaughters of my driver who worked with me when I was posted in Mumbai for six years.”

J.Charukesi, Indian Postal Service, 1990 batch

“I was born into a very liberal minded family. My parents always encouraged me to do whatever I loved doing, whether it was learning Carnatic music, participating in quiz competitions, or reading story books. There was never any pressure to excel in academics or pursue a particular career.

Kolkata, the city I grew up in, played a big role in shaping my personality. It taught me to be creative. I never worked within the set boundaries but was not a rebel. I finished Masters in International Relations from Jadavpur University and wrote the civil service exam because everybody told me it suited my personality.

I believe women are more than capable of taking decisions. The strength comes from within when they get that social freedom to be able to do what they are good at. As women, we should not use our womanhood to our advantage but be willing to do everything ourselves.

My job, among other things entails looking into office accounts and marketing our products. Then why should I play a proxy role in handling my home budget?

The power which my job gives me should be guided by intellect and that comes with education and understanding of problems. Women should do their duties, be active and alert and not behave differently at different places. The issue of women’s safety will forever burn given the prejudiced mentality. It is the same values instilled in us that help us to steer our lives and not allow others to steer it.

We talk about social, emotional, economic empowerment of women but we tend to overlook health. The physical nourishment of women is the most neglected sector and it requires immediate attention. A simple thing like anaemia check-up should be made free and compulsory for all women.


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Printable version | Jun 16, 2021 2:58:21 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/society/women-in-power/article8309678.ece

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