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CELEBRATING THE WOMEN WHO HAVE CHANGED MY LIFE

To be the change

Recognize the woman who is behind you

It is rightly said that “ Behind every successful woman is a tribe of other successful women, who have her back.” I also owe whatever I am today to great women who have influenced my life and shaped my life, some very close to me, some afar; some very unknown to the world but close to my heart, and some very known and renowned figures inspiring by their life from afar.

THE FIRST WOMAN WHO HAS INFLUENCED AND WILL  INFLUENCE THROUGHOUT MY LIFE

In India educating women for higher studies and that also in Engineering and Technology was not so common as today in the end of 1980s and beginning of 1990s that also in a middle class family. But I had the opportunity to appear for Engineering Entrance Exams and get selected within top 100 in the state to pursue my studies in Electronics & Communication Engineering. Not only this I was lucky to be educated in a convent school. This was all possible because of my Mother. My Mother is my first love when I opened my eyes and she is my first teacher as well as the most inspirational woman of my life who has shaped my character as well as my life to a great extent.

 My mother was doing her graduation when she got married in the 19 60s. She was a brave and courageous young lady at that time who was in the Home Guard before marriage. My Grand Pa was among those rare personalities at that time who believed in educating her daughter and letting her live her dreams. She practiced shooting as well as nursing and driving etc as part of the training of home guard . Home guards functioned as an Emergency Force intended for special tasks directly or indirectly connected with the defense of the country.They were also deployed to maintain functional units to provide essential services such as motor transport, Engineering groups, Fire brigade, Nursing and First Aid, Operation of Power supply, Water installations and Communication systems etc.

So this background of hers played a role in grooming her daughters to be independent and strong .It was my mother who dreamt of giving the best education to her daughters along with her son. She impressed on my father to educate us in the best convent school in town. Along with being a mother of two daughters and a son, she was also very dutiful in carrying out her responsibilities as the eldest bahu(daughter-in-law) taking care of her widowed mother-in – law ie my Grand Ma and also my uncle and aunts who were very young at that time when we were just toddlers. We forget the sacrifices of so many Indian housewives our mothers , aunts…whose affection, love and care have held the families together in thick and thin. In todays stressful and busy life that binding in families are missing in most families resulting in isolation , loneliness, depression and many social evils.

My Mother taught me to be strong as well as gentle, to value relationships, to understand the power of courage , will ,determination as well as love. She taught me the essence of humility as well as the essence of pride as virtue which is not possible without nobility and goodness of character. In every circumstances of my life she has been a guiding lamp showing the way and inspiring to face the challenges of life with wisdom and courage. Education can give you a good career but character building gives you a good life. Mothers are the character builders of tomorrow. As we are in this month of March and celebrating womens day I celebrate the achievement of my mother who has given all of us a way of living our lives in nobility and humbleness coupled with courage and will to move forward and onward in all circumstances. She also taught us to love nature ,music and reading and gave us the passion for gardening , music and reading. These finer tastes of life de -stresses me .I owe all these finesse of my life to my Mother.

Apart from my Mother I am inspired by lives of many women some has become history like Rani Lakshmi Bai and some living models the notable among them being Mrs. Sudha Murthy and Kiran Bedi. But my eternal source of inspiration is my Mother and shall always be.

INSPIRATION IN WORK LIFE

As I entered in to my career as an Control & Instrumentation Engineer in a modernized Thermal Power Plant , my career unfolded with many challenges in a male dominated area of work where at every step you had to prove your capability and win confidence and faith of your seniors. During those phases in my life I was inspired by the life of Kiran bedi the first woman IPS officer of India.Let me briefly give a glimpse of her life.

Born in Punjab on the 9th of June 1949, Bedi was the second of the four daughters of Prakash Lal Peshawaria (father) and Prem lata Peshawaria (mother). She did her schooling from Sacred Heart Convent School in Amritsar and joined the National Cadet Corps there. She took up tennis as her favorite sport which she inherited from her father, a talented tennis player himself. After her schooling, she completed her graduation in B.A English honors and also earned her Master’s degree in Political Science from the Punjab University, Chandigarh.

She continued her education, even after joining the Police force and gained her Law Degree, LLB from the reputed Delhi University. With all these degrees to her name, she went on to complete her Ph.D. from the Department of Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi with her thesis topic – Drug abuse and Domestic Violence.

Kiran Bedi started her career as a lecturer at the Khalsa College for women, Amritsar, in the year 1970. In 1972, she then joined the prestigious Indian Police Service, simply for her urge to become outstanding than the rest.

She served as:

– The Traffic Commissioner of New Delhi,
– Deputy Inspector General of Police in Mizoram (insurgency prone area),
– Advisor to Liutenant Governor, Chandigarh,
– Director General of Narcotics Control bureau
– Inspector General in Tihar Jail

As the Inspector General of Tihar Jail, she brought in various reforms for the prisoners including yoga, redressal and meditation. She also initiated the establishment of 2 organizations, Navajyoti (1988) and the India Vision Foundation (1994) for improving the lives of drug addicts and the various underprivileged people.

Awards won

Kiran Bedi has received a number of awards for the work she has performed for the society. Some of these famous awards include:

President’s Gallantry award – 1979
– Women of the Year – 1980
– Asia Region Award For Drug Prevention and control – 1991
– Magsaysay Award for Government Service – 1994
– Mahila Shiromani Award – 1995
– Father Machismo Humanitarian Award – 1995
– Lion of the Year – 1995
– Joseph Beuys Award – 1997
– Pride of India – 1999
– Mother Teresa Memorial National Award for Social Justice – 2005

Her courage and indomitable will is really inspiring for many women. She became internationally recognized after receieving the Ramon Magsaysay Award in Government Service, also considered the Asian Nobel Prize. Her work as the first woman in the Indian Police Service, and as the Inspector General of Tihar Prisons Delhi, got international attention. Her work in the field of crime prevention, forging partnerships in policing and prison transformation was absolutely innovative in the field of restorative justice.

  • What I learnt from her is sincerity in work and service and never give up attitude. In whatever position and wherever or whatever place she was posted she shined brightly.I learnt one important life lesson that “ LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE” from her.
  • Every time I lose courage I think of her and gather my spirits to stand up again in any odds.
  • One more thing to be learnt is “COMPASSION” for weaker section of society be it prisoners or drug addicts and think of way to be a catalyst to change their life for good.
  • She is an embodiment of “ COURAGE” to stand up after every fall and handle any circumstances and situation with grit and passion.

INSPIRATION FOR WORK LIFE BALANCE FROM SUDHA MURTHY.

It’s her passion and commitment to use what she has been blessed with for the benefit of others that keeps Sudha Murthy ticking. She has single-handedly evangelizing the move towards corporate social responsibility. She has worked almost for a decade to change the lives of children in the heart of rural Karnataka by giving them access to food and education.

She is an author of 92 books in almost every Indian language to her credit. She is one of India’s most celebrated entrepreneurs. She shies away from the limelight and truly practices what she preaches.

It was her Rs 10,000 that started Infosys. But purely as a person, what is this success story?When asked Sudha Murthy replied : “How do you define success? I gave Rs 10,000 not thinking I would get a great return. Here is a man who is dreaming of a company and he told me without your support it would be difficult for me to start and I helped him. That’s what I considered and nothing more.”

She was the woman behind the success strory of her husband Narayana murthy and Infosys. She herself was a very brilliant and capable engineer and moreover the first woman in IISC Bangalore and in the shop floor of TATA but she did a great sacrifice.

She only knew that Murthy was a very honest and hardworking person and he wanted to do something and he told her that he required three years of hard work from her and he would not be able to earn. She’ll have to manage the family and give him the initial investment.

For a person like her who was so career conscious and who was so fond of technical things, it was very hard. But Murthy being a very strong person, he said it’s either him or her.

  • When he said that, then she thought practically. If she was in, then he is out and when you start a company you have to run around, stay away from the family, everything you have to do and she was a woman, she couldn’t be away from the family and the children.
  • Secondly, she knew children require their mother at an early stage of life and not so much when they grow up. Whatever value system you teach, it’s only in those crucial years. So, therefore she said okay and she made the decision but her heart was very heavy. It took many years for her to reconcile to this.

But she never came back in to the technical arena because by that time, she realized it is not only technical thing that’s great in life, there are many more things in life, which are very important. So, when one window was closed, God opened a door to her and that is the Infosys Foundation.

So I learnt that work life balance means managing your career along with proper care of your family. Rather for a woman her family and small children are the first priority.Her example made me take a vital decision in my career also. To shift from the thermal plant area to Contracts and Management department where you can give enough time to your family rather than being in the technical field where you have to be alert 24 hrs for any uncalled for eventualities and emergencies or breakdown.

She is so correct that “ it is not only technical thing that’s great in life, there are many more things in life, which are very important.” When one door closes the other door opens. Only you have to be in awareness to the needs of others in society and the attitude to give selflessly. 

Founder, Infosys Foundation, Sudha Murthy, told CNBC-TV18, “In life’s journey, we all meet strange people and undergo many experiences that touch us and sometimes even change us. If you have a sensitive mind, you will see your life too in the vast storehouse of stories. For me, it is something closest to my heart. Initially, I was a mother to it but somewhere along the line, it has become the mother and I the child.”

LIFE LESSONS LEARNT

So these great women have changed my life, shown me new ways to perceive life and taught me that life is so important be it yours or of others. Its okey to be ambitious  and career conscious, but being a woman one has to be practical and always give priority to family and children as you are only the future builders of a beautiful society. In your hand lies the nourishment of young souls. .A woman is embodiment of shakti ie energy.Let your energy flow judiciously in whatever you do.Women have the capability to be multitasking.

But one important thing to remember always is :

When we give importance to others life above our selfish desires and ambitions, our lives also change for the better.

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