It has been 10 days, but 26-year-old Savitha Garje’s mobile phone has not stopped ringing, with congratulations pouring in. She has scored the highest among women selected for the post of deputy superintendent of police in the recently declared Maharashtra Public Service Commission (MPSC) results.
Eldest of three children, with her father employed as a clerk with Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST), Savitha did not have it easy. She had to take up odd jobs to fund her studies and change libraries every so often due to harassment. But she chose not to tell her parents, afraid they would be worried about her safety.
Savitha chose to become a police officer after learning that despite 18 per cent reservation for women, less than 10 per cent opted for it. “Women fight for equality in all spheres, but when it comes to taking up tough jobs they shy away at times. I have often heard people say women choosing uniform service don’t get desirable grooms. I wanted to change that,” Savitha said.
What cemented her choice were incidents of harassment she faced during her years studying in Pune. “I found chits in my books when I complained; I was looked upon as a troublemaker. It made me realise that even today women are considered the cause behind this problem, and eventually I had to change libraries. I want to change that approach,” said Savitha, who promptly opted for the police service after cracking her mains.
But that journey too was not an easy one. She had moved to Pune in 2017 aiming to crack Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). But living away from home cost her Rs 12,000 per month, and it soon began to pinch the family of five. Her father, Maruti Garje, was a clerk maintaining records in the BEST depot, the sole breadwinner. Maruti, who joined the BEST as a conductor in 1994, appeared for a departmental exam to become a clerk.
“I always regretted not studying enough, but I didn’t want my children to face the same. Hence, I encouraged my daughter to pursue her dreams no matter how difficult,” said Maruti, with a proud smile.
It was this motivation that pushed Savitha to carry on with her struggle, tutoring thrice a week to fund her studies. She also bought a second-hand laptop with the little money she earned. Having cracked the state exams, Savitha still aspires to get into the foreign services, but until then she wants to do her best to bring a change in perception around women in society.
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