Category Archives: successful woman

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

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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

ALWAYS SEE THE BRIGHTER SIDE OF THE LIFE

 

Ashla Rani, a paraplegic, lives a productive, fulfilled life, with a job, friends and family

Ashla Rani welcomes me with a smile that reaches her eyes. At the office of Pallium India in Thiruvananthapuram, she has her hands full as executive assistant to Dr M R Rajagopal, chairman of the palliative care centre. Sitting on her wheelchair, with the partial control that she has over her upper limbs, she coordinates his appointments and travel itinerary. She has been here for three years now, and is one among the six recipients of the Kerala Government’s Youth Icon Awards for 2016.

The mishap

It was a near-fatal train accident in 2010, when she was 28, that left her a quadriplegic. And it was at the age of 32, that she had to start her life afresh. She makes it sound simple: “There were so many loving and caring people around me. My mother, Janaki, has been with me since that accident. Then there are my doctors who were very kind to me. None of them told me that I would never walk again. They always said, ‘Let that happen when it has to. Until then, make the best of what you have now’. So it was about taking small steps, learning to do things as the need arose. I realised that I should never stop trying,” she says.

A native of Kannur, she fell off the train on her way to Chennai, where she was working as an IT professional. She was standing near the door trying to throw out the food waste after dinner. But the door banged shut behind her, throwing her out of the train. “I have not gone back to my home after that. My life has revolved around hospitals since then. It was at the rehabilitation centre of Christian Medial College at Vellore that I started learning how to deal with it,” she says, almost matter-of-factly.

She had to relearn how to use cutlery, write and type on a laptop. Since she can’t use her fingers, she now uses the knuckles of the little fingers on both hands to type on the laptop. She can write with a pen with soft nibs, like gel pens. “But don’t ask me how I hold the pen. I place it in a particular angle between my fingers. However, the way I hold it one day may not be the same the next!” she says.

She can now hold a spoon, thanks to the training she received at the rehabilitation centre at Vellore. “They have different types of spoons to train patients and it took me nearly eight months of practice. Now I use a regular steel spoon, which is not too heavy,” she says.

Guiding light

There was inspiration in the form of late M P Anil Kumar, a fighter pilot who was paralysed neck down, but went on to become a writer, typing on the keyboard with a mouth-held stick. “I came to know about him only after his death. He couldn’t move his hands, but he never gave up and I realised how lucky I was, compared to him. I got in touch with the Facebook platform that kept his memories alive. Interactions with them gave me a lot of positivity and hope. They have been a constant source of encouragement and support,” Ashla adds.

While undergoing intense physiotherapy sessions at a hospital in Kochi, she heard about Pallium India from a friend. It is a charitable trust that provides palliative care and pain relief for patients across India. “I didn’t want to go back home because I knew it would be very difficult to continue my physiotherapy. I sent a mail to ‘Rajagopal sir’ explaining my medical condition and expressing my desire to work for the organisation. He replied within hours, and a few days later, I was there to meet him,” she says.

Today, she is actively involved with the half-way home, a rehabilitation project of Ministry of Social Justice, for those who are paraplegic, confined to their wheelchairs. “Their grief stems from their helplessness. We encourage them to stay positive, sometimes taking them out for a ‘walk’ along the footpath. They also attend vocational training classes. I can relate to them and perhaps that’s why they tell me that I inspire them. Since I am also on a wheelchair, they are motivated to come out of their shell,” she says.

 

COURTESY     THE HINDU

 

Gold Getters

City girls Sharon and Krishna Induja were part of the Indian women’s throwball team, which won gold at the Asian Continental Games 2017.

In an outstanding achievement, both the women’s and men’s throwball teams have won gold for India at the the recent Asian Continental Games 2017, held in Thailand. What’s more, two players from the women’s team, Sharon Pascal and Gaddam Krishna Induja, are from Hyderabad and were coached by Venkat Komu and Jagan Mohan Goud.

“It’s a great feeling. This is our second international win in the last few months. The experience at the Asian Continental Games was different from the World Games 2017. This time, some of the players in the team were government employees; one was a policewoman from Punjab. It was nice playing with people from different parts of the country. We all got along well and our sole aim was to make India proud. We won against Malaysia in the semi-finals and thrashed Thailand in the finals,” says 24-year-old Sharon, proudly.

Induja says that the best part of the series was defeating the home team. “Thailand gave us a tough competition, but we won. I was the captain for the World Games and am glad we could make the country proud again. More parents should encourage their kids to take up sports. The awareness in the city is lacking,” says 19-year-old Induja, who was also a national-level tennis player. “After I suffered from jaundice, I switched to throwball as I couldn’t cotinue tennis. Throwball is tough too as the ball comes spinning in at great speed and we suffer from hand injuries. But I got attached to the sport and will continue playing it,” she adds.

While Sharon works as an Assistant Publishing Specialist at Thomson Reuters and is also pursuing a post graduate degree in Psychology at Osmania University, Induja is pursuing Interior Designing at Hamstech Institute of Fashion and Interior Designing. So doesn’t the schedule get hectic? “Yes, it’ very tiring. I practise in the morning, go to work and study during the weekends. But nothing matters more than making the country proud. Playing a sport can also be a stress-buster. I unwind by playing table tennis and dancing,” says Sharon. While Induja adds, “No matter how tiring it gets, I will continue playing for my father. When he tells people that his daughter plays for the country, it makes me happy.”

While both the girls face problems with funds and lack of opportunities, they want to continue playing for India. “I also want to start playing discus throw professionally. It’s all possible because our parents support us at all times,” concludes Sharon.

Courtesy   Deccan Chronicle