Category Archives: successful woman

ALL WOMEN NAVY CREW RETURNS

The expedition, christened ‘Navika Sagar Parikrama’, was flagged off from the INS Mandovi boat pool here on September 10, 2017. Panaji: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba on Monday welcomed the Indian Navy’s six-member all-women crew who arrived in Panaji after circumnavigating the globe in over eight months on board the naval vessel INSV Tarini.

The expedition, christened ‘Navika Sagar Parikrama’, was flagged off from the INS Mandovi boat pool in Goa on September 10, 2017. Led by Lieutenant Commander Vartika Joshi, the crew had Lt Commanders Pratibha Jamwal and Swati P, and Lieutenants Aishwarya Boddapati, S Vijaya Devi and Payal Gupta as other members. They completed the feat in the 55-foot sailing vessel, INSV Tarini, which was inducted into the Indian Navy on February 18, 2017.

 

It was the first-ever Indian circumnavigation of the globe by an all-women crew, the Navy said. The six women officers trained for the project under Captain Dilip Donde, the first Indian to solo-circumnavigate the globe from August 19, 2009 to May 19, 2010 onboard the Indian-built vessel INSV Mhadei, a Navy official said.

A Navy spokesperson said that the expedition was completed in six legs, with stopovers at the Fremantle (Australia), Lyttleton (New Zealand), Port Stanley (Falkland Islands), Cape Town (South Africa) and Mauritius.

“The crew covered 21,600 nautical miles in the Indian-built sailing vessel INSV Tarini that visited five countries and crossed the Equator twice. It sailed across four continents and three oceans, and passed south of the three Great Capes – Leeuwin, Horn and Good Hope,” the spokesperson said.

 COURTESY      DECCAN CHRONICLE

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SCALING THE HEIGHTS

Chittoor district Additional SP Radhika Gollapalli recently scaled Aconcagua (Argentina) as a part of her ‘Five Summit’ expedition.

While conquering Mt Everest may be the ultimate dream for many, Radhika Gollapalli Rama Murthy completed it in her early days of mountaineering. The Chittoor district Additional SP recently completed the ‘Five Summit’ expedition, scaling Mt Everest (Nepal), Elbrus (Europe), Mount Kosciuszko (Australia), Kilimanjaro (Africa) and just recently, Aconcagua (Argentina). Recalling how mountaineering always fascinated her, Radhika shares, “I went to the Manasarovar yaatra in 2012. It inspired me and gave me the confidence to do mountaineering. Soon, I underwent endurance training for 45 days at Gulmarg to see if my body could sustain extreme cold temperatures. I managed to complete all the three levels and got an A grade.”

Her first expedition was in 2013 when she climbed Mt Everest, followed by Kilimanjaro. Later, she also completed the expeditions of Mt Kosciuszko, (Australia), and Elbrus (Europe).

These expeditions made me realise that everything in life is temporary, that we need to enjoy the little moments and inculcate humility. We feel proud and arrogant, but we are nothing when it comes to nature,” says Radhika, adding, “I also got the opportunity to experience different cultures. It made me broad-minded.”

Admitting that staying away from family was tough, she asserts that women have great opportunities even after marriage. “If you are determined and set goals that are realistic, you can achieve anything. Women are capable of doing anything even after marriage. There’s a lot more to life beyond being a homemaker and opportunities for women abound if they just explore,” she says.

Notably, Radhika is the first Indian woman police officer to complete the Five Summit Peaks (2018), the Aussie 10 Peak Challenge and Mt Everest in May 2013.  And she credits her family for her success.

“My husband is a businessman from Anantapur. He always supports me and takes care of the kids and other domestic work too,” she shares, adding, “When I started mountaineering, I was afraid of missing them too much, but slowly I got used to it. If you want something in life, you need to sacrifice certain things. Now they are grown up, my elder son is a third year B. Tech student while my younger son is in Class X, so they understand me.” Interestingly, Radhika worked as a lecturer before joining the police department, against the advice of many who urged her not to leave a comfortable faculty job for policing.

“Many discouraged me not to join the department. But I was also an NSS programme officer in my faculty days, so I wanted to get into social service to expand my horizons and not restrict myself to just students,” she explains.

 

 

Courtesy      Hyderabad chronicle

 

WHERE SKY IS NOT THE LIMIT

Prior to her 403-day expedition to Antarctica, the lone woman in a 23-member team, Mangala Mani had not even been to a place with snow

Last December, a small team of exhausted, but elated, ISRO scientists landed at Rajiv Gandhi International airport, sans fanfare and media hype. The team had successfully completed a 403-day expedition at India’s research station, Bharathi in Antarctica and the lone woman in the group Managala Mani had every reason to cheer. The first Polar Woman from ISRO, who’s ‘overwintered’ was selected to be featured by BBC’s ‘100 women Challenge’ for their series on Women in Science. Her role at Bharathi was to operate and maintain the ground station where 10 of 14 orbits would be visible, unlike in India where only 2 or 3 orbits would be visible. The satellite data thus collected would be transferred to India for processing and distribution to users.

Mangala Mani had never been to a place with snow prior to her expedition to Antarctica, and there she was bracing herself to spend an indefinite period on the vast icescape, also the most isolated place on the planet, with 22 men who were strangers to her until that expedition. Mangala Mani shares her experience of the expedition and what it takes for a woman to hold on to a career of her choice:

What motivated you to choose this field as a career?

In our childhood, newspapers and radio were the only media connecting us to the world. The major part of nurturing and moulding happened at home and in school. I’m the eldest of the six children and our parents encouraged us to study well and also to participate in extra- curricular activities. Our school (Holy Mary Girls High School, Saifabad) nurtured us to have a well-balanced growth, teaching us the morals of life and service apart from the regular syllabi. These noble principles from my parents and school, lay the foundation to study well, be a good citizen and serve the society. Thus, my small brain started thinking, how I can serve my nation and be a help to my fellow people. Right from my childhood I had a strong analytical and reasoning skills and a fascination for geography. So my natural choice was to go for engineering / technical profession. A newspaper article on Mars by NASA, USA fascinated me a lot and aroused an interest and a dream in me to join a space organisation like in Florida, which was on the coast! Seeing my interest, my parents got me admitted into Model Diploma for Technicians – Radio Apparatus (MDT-RA) of Government Polytechnic in Masab Tank, Hyderabad, whose entrance test, I cleared. This was a four-year diploma course, started with Russian collaboration, with the latest syllabus and one semester of in-plant training, either in HAL or ECIL, for our project work. I was the only girl in a batch of 80 boys. We came to know that most of our seniors are sought after by different organisations like ECIL, HAL, ISRO, etc even before the completion of the project work. This rekindled my hopes and dream of joining ISRO.

How did it feel to step out of college into the world of your dreams?

It wasn’t smooth initially. Soon after my Diploma, I joined HAL, Balanagar for apprenticeship. There I was called to attend the interview in SHAR / ISRO. Accompanied by my father, I attended and was shortlisted. To my surprise, within three weeks, I got an appointment order to join ISRO; my joy knew no bounds. But this joy was short-lived, when my parents expressed reluctance to send me, a young girl, to a distant place for a career. Finally, my uncle, who was a DSP, for whom dad has high regards, advised him not to hesitate to send me to ISRO which is a respectable and clean organisation (from a police department’s perspective). My parents agreed only after that.

It’s been a long journey since then, to your current stint with NRSC.

Having had a long stint, now I am in National Remote Sensing Center, Shadnagar in Hyderabad, where the Earth Resources data is collected from the satellites, processed and distributed to the users, while monitoring and managing the resources to help disaster support systems. Thus my dream of being a part of service to human cause and development of nation is being fulfilled.

What are the prerequisites to be in the field of space research?

Well, having a strong conceptual knowledge of maths, physics, chemistry and biology lays a foundation for basic engineering and medical professions, In today’s scenario, every profession has become inter-disciplinary and is more of a domain based research – space, weather, ocean, earth, computers, networks, astronomy, archaeology, geology etc. Space research is no exception, and all the elements of basic sciences are needed for Space technology.

Do you see more women entering the field now?

Women are venturing into every field. Women just need to be willing, ready and take that opportunity when it comes. With the knowledge explosion, sky is not the limit, there is much more beyond.

What was your first reaction after being selected for this expedition?

I was very excited and looked forward to the time of preparation. I dared to take this bold step to venture into the windiest, coldest, driest and, may I add, the most isolated place on this planet earth, and was looking forward to an adventurous and challenging time. Let me also tell you, I have never been to a place of ice/snow before and looked forward for a new experience.

What was the preparation like before leaving for the expedition?

National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean research (NCAOR), under Ministry of Earth Sciences is the nodal point for Antarctic expeditions taken up by our country. Elaborate medical check-ups were done at AIIMS, Delhi for a week, including psychologicalassessment for long term (wintering) members. In the next two weeks we were taken to Auli for snow / ice acclimatisation at 9000 feet altitude and to Badrinath at 10000 feet altitude. Here we were taken for long treks with increasing distances and with loads to build physical endurance. We are also taught about the safety and rescue tips in cold and snow / ice conditions; mountaineering and snow / ice equipment. This way, confidence and team spirit is imbibed in us before we embark on the journey.

You first impression of the Antarctica?

The sheer vastness of the ice all around was breathtaking. I was mesmerised at how an aeroplane could glide and land on icy runway, having started on a cement runway from Cape Town, South Africa. Any number of adjectives are inadequate to describe the stunning beauty of the icescapes (ice shelfs) and icebergs on and around the ice continent Antarctica.

How long did it take to settle down?

It took us about 15 days to understand and get familiar with the weather conditions, terrain and surroundings of the station. We were briefed about the careful usage of resources and general cleanliness of the station and surroundings.

All the segregated waste – food, human, biological, tin, glass, plastic, cardboard, paper – are compacted and back loaded to the mainland, to be disposed (by every station in Antarctica) to preserve the serenity of the continent.

What was the daily routine?

All the expedition members are expected to gather for a daily meeting, at an appointed time to discuss and plan the works to be handled, people to be involved for the station requirements, apart from the specific official duties which we are responsible for. We are also entrusted with the station inventory and maintainence. Station upkeep is the responsibility of every expedition member, and we keep vigil throughout the night. Galley Duty includes helping in the kitchen apart from Station Vigil, which is done in turns.

Has it all been work?

We pursued or learnt things like writing, performing etc. I have learnt to make eggless cakes in a microwave oven. I took time to stitch the image of Antarctica on a pillow cover for my mom on International Women’s Day in 2017. Special occasions and festivals were celebrated. We also had sports competitions between members of Indian, Chinese and Russian stations; I was the only woman among the 23 members wintering over at Bharati station, while there are no women at all either in Chinese or Russian stations wintering in 2016-17.

Did you ever experience homesickness?

There was anxiety when we were not sure of the return to India! I was desperate to return by December 2017 to a family gathering. During an interaction with our Director, YVN Krishna Murthy and Dy. Director, when they enquired about our well being, I did not hesitate to request for my return. Another spell of anxiety was when our relievers could not come and we could not start, as expected, because of bad weather. The weather should be clear in all the 3 stations (Bharati – where we start, Syowa– where refuelling is done and Maitri – Where we land to proceed further to Cape Town) to take the long haul flight of 8 hours covering 2800 kms, by a feeder flight, which can carry a load of 1500kg!

What kind of food did you have there?

We had the same food we have in our main land. Rice, dal, cereals, rotis,, frozen fish, mutton, chicken, prawns and vegetables. Initially, the ship would arrive bringing all these provisions for the whole year, (along with the fuel to supply power and heat for the station), Some fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs and milk also arrive. While fruits and vegetables are consumed within 2-3 months, milk and eggs will last for 5-6 months. Thereafter powder and condensed milk along with tinned fruits are used. We also have pickles, bread butter jam oats, corn, etc. all these have to be properly preserved and judiciously used!

Personally and professionally what’s been your contribution ?

Professionally, I have efficiently handled the responsibility entrusted to me, taken a lead role in initiating discussions for resolving issues. Personally, I have been very cooperative and accommodative with all the members of the team, and the same was reciprocated by the male members in the team. While some adjustments had to be made by me and the others (for example in using the common facilities like wash rooms, laundry services etc), a mutual respect was developed among the members creating a balanced and healthy environment.

courtesy    THE  HINDU

I HAVE A LOTS OF SPORTS TO PLAY

Swimming, badminton, basketball, cycling, scuba-diving… Kartiki Patel’s list is long, challenging and far from finished

Almost 10 years ago, Kartiki Patel woke up in a hospital bed and couldn’t feel her legs. She was relieved, though, that they were still there.  She had been on a road trip with cousins to Gujarat when, on a turn, the car went off the road, down an eight-foot drop, then somersaulted.

“I was sitting in the back, and I got juggled. I thought amputation was the worst that could happen at that point. I thought I could exercise and get back on my feet, and that’s what people kept telling me. But when I finally asked the doctor, he said, ‘Did nobody tell you that you’re never going to walk again?’” Kartiki explains, in a conversational tone, that her spine had been broken and the spinal cord severed. “That was a big blow. I lost heart for some time.”

She had always been enthusiastic about sports, playing basketball in college in Mumbai, even bunking lectures to get in more than eight hours of practice every day. Even when she lost her parents — her mother died when she was in Class XII, her father in her final undergrad year — she had kept playing. “I guess it was me trying to cope with all the time I had, with no one to tell me to study, do things.” After college and post-graduation, she got a job: IT-related back-office work.

A year later, the accident happened. She was 25.

Competitive streak

A senior colleague, who lived with multiple sclerosis, pushed her to return to work. Four months later, she did. “It took my mind off a lot of negative thoughts that kept coming to my head when I was in bed,” she says.

Sports was far from her mind at the time but a few years into the job, she started getting bored. “I was happy to be earning and on my feet again, but I was doing the same thing every day.” An uncle had suggested she take up swimming, and she now took him up on it. Once she picked it up, her competitive streak took over and she entered competitions and won several medals.

It was at a swimming meet that Kartiki met the chair of the Wheelchair Basketball Federation of India (WBFI), who told her about a national championship in Chennai. Kartiki landed up there, but found that there were no women basketballers yet.

But a group of army veterans from Pune encouraged her to take her love for sports further. She had also started to play wheelchair badminton. Soon, she had won the nationals three years in a row and represented India in para tournaments abroad, winning a bronze medal in the Spanish Open.

Meanwhile, WBFI was just beginning to get more women on court, and an India team was forming, “So I joined basketball again.” That was last year.

Wheelchair basketball is tougher than playing the game on your feet, she says. “You have to control the ball with your hands, and also move the wheelchair with your hands.” A year in, having the chair do her bidding on court is still a work in progress. “I can shoot from close, but not yet even from the free-throw line. When you’re standing, it all comes from your knees, right? In a wheelchair, it has to come from your waist, your torso; that fitness is not there yet. I need to get a stronger back and abs.”

Scuba and cycling

She quit her job in 2015, started a Master’s in social entrepreneurship, and is also testing the beta of a new business idea, adaptive fitness classes for paraplegics.

She has also finished her first set of scuba lessons, with just the open water dives to be done before she gets her certification.

Then there’s cycling: she bought herself a tricycle with the intent of joining a Manali–Khardung La ride with other people with disabilities, but says: “I don’t think I can do it right away, I’m thinking of doing a 100 km ride first…”

In December, Kartiki got married. “I met Herman when I first joined work. After my accident, he took a lot of care of me, he was always with me. That’s when it all started.” She insists she isn’t good enough with words to describe the relationship or Herman, but her bland tone is belied with the hint of a smile that sits around her lips broadening until it well-nigh splits her face.

What next? Any plans to start a family? “I’d love to. Maybe when we’re a little settled. Till then, I have a lot of sports to play. I haven’t written it down; I should write it and tick them off one by one.”

The next checkbox is ready. In early February, she was selected captain of India’s women’s basketball team for the Asian Para Games qualifiers in Bangkok in March. Then? “The 2020 Paralympics. I plan to go even if I don’t get to participate. I’m taking it one tournament at a time.”

When you’re standing, it all comes from your knees, right? In a wheelchair, it has to come from your waist, your torso; that fitness is not there yet

COURTESY     THE HINDU

WOMAN OF ACTION

Collector of Medak District, IAS officer Bharati Hollikeri has introduced several people-friendly programmes in the district.

When IAS officer Bharati Hollikeri was posted as a District Collector for the newly formed Medak District in October 2016, it was like a homecoming for her. “I started my career as Sub-Collector in this district, so it helped me understand the topography of the place,” she shares, adding, “This is an agricultural district and people are very warm and innocent. Despite being just 100 kilometres away from Hyderabad, the two major issues plaguing the district are health and education.”

Since Medak was in the Phase-1 districts that had to implement the Open Defecation Free (ODF) programme, she battled against all odds. “Despite educating people about hygiene, toilets were their last priority. Constructing a record 58,000 toilets to make the district ODF was an uphill task, especially during demonetisation. There was a delay in funds, logistics issues, space constraints, difficulty in building toilets in rocky areas, etc. But over time, I realised that we also had to bring a behavioural change in the mindset of the people. One of the biggest challenges lies in making the beneficiaries use the toilets,” says Bharati.

Her efforts to provide lunch to the pregnant women who visit the primary health centers (PHCs) are worth mentioning. “When women visit PHCs for treatment, they usually skip their lunch as they come from far-off places and have to undergo tests. As a result, they go back to their homes starving. So I have collaborated with the local Anganwadi centres to supply food to the women in the health centres. We are also educating them on nutrition, diet, etc. at no extra cost to the exchequer,” explains Bharati, who has also brought innovative changes in the educational curriculum to ensure that learning is fun for the children.

“Primary education is very important as it’s the foundation for any child’s development. We altered the syllabus and made sure that children enjoy learning by introducing Multi Grade-Multi Level (MGML) digital classrooms, 3D materials for learning, books, blackboards, chairs and even spectacles for kids with poor vision. All this has ignited great interest among the children to come to school,” she says. A native of Belagavi district in Karnataka, Bharati says that challenging assignments have brought out the best in her. “Serving the people as Collector is a great opportunity and my passion too. My personality has changed and my thought process has widened. Every new assignment has been challenging yet a learning experience,” she says as she ascribes her success to her family. “Without their support, I would not have come this far. They stay in Hyderabad and I catch up with them during the weekends. My husband Shankar Reddy works as Assistant Director (AP and Telangana), Ministry of Tourism, Government of India,” she explains.

 

COURTESY      HYDERABAD CHRONICLE

 

A WOMAN ON THE ‘MANLY’ GHATAM

‘Frankly, I don’t think people are any more welcoming of a woman percussion player now than when I started out’

Sukanya Ramgopal has been asked more times than she could care to remember what it is like to be the first woman ghatam player in the Carnatic music tradition.

Of course it has not been easy, but the 60-year-old has dealt with it well and long enough to answer the question with a touch of humour. “I think I should thank all the male musicians who did not want a woman ghatam player as their accompanying artiste!” she says with a hearty laugh. “It compelled me to innovate and bring ghatam to the centre stage.”

Doubly marginalised

As her lone female student Sumana Chandrashekhar puts it, Sukanya is ‘doubly marginalised’ in the Carnatic music space — the ghatam is classified as an upapakkavadya (an accompanying instrument that is secondary to mridangam) and she is a woman playing it. Visually too, a woman playing ghatam (literally a pot) on stage challenges ‘all notions of the slender female body’ and defies ‘all conventional descriptions of a woman’s delicate fingers.’

But Sukanya has clearly been able to break out of the margins and stereotypes successfully.

With musicians wary of a woman playing the ‘manly’ ghatam in their concerts, Sukanya has devised a unique reinterpretation of the instrument. In 1994 she designed a performance concept she named ‘Ghata Tharang’, which involves playing six to seven ghatams of different shrutis to give it a broad melodic dimension. A year later she started Stree Taal Tarang, an all-women instrumental ensemble.

These experiments have taken her to stages across India and abroad and won her multiple accolades and has led to some particularly interesting women-centric collaborations. For instance, Sukanya has performed a stunning jugalbandi of sorts with flamenco artist Bettina Castaño.

Reminiscing about the days when a woman aspiring to learn ghatam was ‘strange’, Sukanya says that her guru Vikku Vinayakram was initially reluctant to teach her, but her persistence won him over. The music school started by his father Harihara Sharma, Sri Jaya Ganesh Talavadya Vidyalaya, was in Triplicane, Chennai, where Sukanya lived. There she learnt mridangam first but was soon drawn to ghatam. Her guru, who at first said that the instrument is ‘too hard for a girl’, was impressed with her dedication and prowess.

But the tough part came when she had to step into the world of kutcheriswith all its hierarchies and prejudices. There were many instances of music sabhas, vocalists and even percussion artistes refusing to have a woman ghatam player on stage.

Reluctant to get into details or drop names, Sukanya says that the situation is no better now. “Frankly, I don’t think people are any more welcoming of a woman percussion player now than when I started out. In fact I would even say that the older generation of artistes were a little more generous compared to many today.”

Mega ensemble

This undercurrent of hostility is perhaps one of the reasons why Sumana is the lone woman student among the 20-odd students at Sri Vikku Vinayakram School for Ghatam that Sukanya runs in Bengaluru. While there are few ghatam learners, there are fewer women among those. When Sukanya put together an ensemble of 83 ghatam artistes in Bengaluru recently, to mark her guru’s 75th birthday, there were only four women on stage, including herself.

In the hope of enthusing more people, particularly women, to take to this earthy instrument, Sukanya has also written a book, Sunaadam, The Vikku Bani of Ghatam Playing, a learner’s guide. “Let’s hope things get better,” she says, with genuine optimism.

‘I FOLLOW THE RULES CLOSELY’

But Alappuzha Collector T.V. Anupama’s career is only getting more eventful

In a minor reshuffle of IAS officers, the Pinarayi Vijayan-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) government in Kerala appointed a young officer T.V. Anupama as District Collector of Alappuzha in August 2017.

Five weeks later, the government found itself in a sticky situation, thanks to two back-to-back reports filed by the new collector with the Revenue Department, endorsing the charge of encroachment and conversion of land in violation of the Kerala Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Act by a resort owned by Transport Minister Thomas Chandy. The rest is history.

Multiple raids

The minister tried his best to stick on and even went to the Kerala High Court with the request that her inquiry report be quashed. The court not only refused to oblige him, but also came down heavily on him with strong strictures for filing a petition against his own government. The minister’s fate was sealed.

It was not the first time that Anupama, a native of Ponnani in Malappuram district and a holder of B.E. (Hons) in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from BITS Pilani, Goa, had taken on the high and mighty.

“There is a greater good in things we do as civil servants. I have chosen this field so that I can serve a larger population and work in diverse fields,” says Anupama, who secured the fourth rank in her first shot at the UPSC examinations in 2010.

She had always nurtured the dream to become an IAS officer and was ready to try again if she failed in her first attempt.

That tenacity was evident once she joined the civil service: she seemed always ready to question and tackle the faults in the system.

In 2014, soon after her appointment as Food Safety Commissioner, she got a CITU leader arrested on the charge of demanding ‘ nokkukooli ’, the money paid to union head-load workers to simply watch the loading or unloading of goods.

Anupama’s stint as the head of Food Safety Commissionarate was action-packed. She conducted multiple raids across the State, took food adulterators head-on and banned a number of products, including several popular brands.

Wrath for her work

The grit of the IAS officer has helped expose high levels of adulteration and rampant use of pesticides in vegetables and fruits bought from neighbouring States, triggering a healthy food campaign in Kerala. In a way, Kerala owes a lot to Anupama for popularising organic farming practices. However, her work earned her the wrath of food adulterators and the pesticide lobby.

“Whether as Food Safety Commissioner or Collector I serve the people and their interest and well-being is my top priority. I follow the rules closely. The important thing is to apply the rules properly and I am least bothered about the impact of my decisions on my career,” Anupama told The Hindu .

She carried over the splendid work shown as Food Safety Commissioner first to the Social Justice department as its Director and then to Alappuzha. As District Collector, she is once again proving her mettle, which was evident from the handling of the crisis arising from Cyclone Ockhi. The district administration led by her ensured proper rehabilitation of the affected people and played a crucial role in bringing the missing fishermen back safely by coordinating the rescue efforts.

She had won praise by launching ‘Sevana Sparsham’, a grievance redressal programme, and is getting ready to launch a ‘hunger-free’ district project with the help of the State government to provide quality food free of cost at least once a day to the needy.

Each of her actions should reinstate the faith of many in the capabilities of the bureaucratic system.

In a way, Kerala owes a lot to Anupama for popularising organic farming practices

COURTESY     THE HINDU