Meet the catalysts of change

Firts are always tough. Especially,when they mean the first in the country and when it states that your performance will set the trend for future generations.

Written by ShevetaBhatia | Chandigarh | Published:March 9, 2009 3:26 am

As the world celebrates 100 years of International Women’s Day,Newsline talks to the women in khaki who have reset benchmarks

Firts are always tough. Especially,when they mean the first in the country and when it states that your performance will set the trend for future generations. “But once you have cleared the hurdles,you have opened a gateway for many others to not only emulate you but perform even better,” says Kanchan Chaudhary Bhattacharya,India’s first woman DGP of any state,as she takes seat at the third National Conference for Women in Police.

“It was a crown of thorns. More than to perform the duties,I had to fight my way out of being a ‘woman DGP’,” she recalls. A demoralised workforce had greeted her when she assumed the charge of Uttaranchal DGP in 2004. But then,as they say,determination gets you places. In Kanchan’s case,integrity,a sound base of knowledge and about 30 years of experience in the service came in handy. Kanchan,who is now with the National Human Rights Commission,Dehradun,had formed the basis of the television serial,Udaan,in the 1980s,in which the lead role was played by her sister,Kavita Chaudhary.

Dr Jija Madhavan Harisingh,IPS,DGP,who is also among the first few women to reach the position,defines the period of her struggle as a “phase of the changing curve”. “Once you have crossed the path,it becomes smooth,but then somebody has to take the plunge and bring about the change,” says Jija,who comes from a conservative family in Kerala.

“The rules were well defined for women. When I left the job of an English lecturer in 1975 to join the police force,I had to face many raised eyebrows,including those of the recruiters who were not sure if I could take care of myself,leave alone others,” says Jija,who has managed mobs,lathicharges and drunken crowds all through her career.

There are,however,certain things that are still very challenging for her. “Managing family and work together,and weighing the morals and ethics in work situations,” says Jija.

For Letika Saran,India’s first woman police commissioner of a metropolitan city,however,it was the tag of being the “first” that kept her on her toes. “It was a dream come true. But there was great responsibility. Any achievement or miss was not mine,but of the women in general,” she recalls the time,when a mark had to be made,which was beyond gender discrimination. The time,when endless nights were spent trying to break through cases which had been unsolved for many years,balancing the home and work front. “It was like you are living in a gold fish bowl,with everyone’s attention on you,” says Letika,who was given the charge of Chennai.

Before signing off,the ADG,Administration,goes back to the start. “I had a spark. I wanted to do something different and I did. I expect all the young women out there to do the same.”

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