Leading from the front
Feature Articles

Leading from the front

March 8, 2021

Women, considered to be the most divine creations on earth, are an epitome of patience, resilience, tolerance and love. They provide the element of balance in one’s life. They are also strong and smart with action, emotion and devotion. Women have emerged from the shadows of men and have been carving a place for themselves in all spheres of life. The theme of International Women’s Day 2021 is: ‘Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.’

With an overall knowledge from interior households to the peripheral world, modern women are a symbol of power and energy. For the International Women’s Day 2021, Star of Mysore caught up with some of the most inspiring female leaders from Mysuru in the field of administration, politics, science, education and Police force, who have emerged as role models.

By Shadan Muneer

‘Your work speaks for you’: Rohini Sindhuri, Deputy Commissioner, Mysuru

A 2009 batch IAS officer of Karnataka cadre, RohiniSindhuri has worked in various departments in her career. She took over as Mysuru Deputy Commissioner (DC) on Sept. 29, 2020. This gutsy officer has emerged as a beacon of light and has been an inspiration for many women. Hailing from Andhra Pradesh, she did her graduation in Chemical Engineering and later took up Civil Services.

Rohini Sindhuri, Deputy Commissioner, Mysuru

Star of Mysore (SOM): Please reflect on your inspiring journey as a woman bureaucrat?

RohiniSindhuri: Bureaucracy is based on merit. After clearing Civil Service examinations, a lot of options opened up for me. Generally there is a perception that a bureaucrat has to look a certain way and not all can fit the bill. But every job comes with its own set of challenges. If you want to take charge of things, you have to be energetic and motivated. There have not been many obstacles except for the fact that women officers are not taken seriously. But over time, your work speaks.

SOM: Was it difficult for you to break the glass ceiling? 

RohiniSindhuri: This decade has been fortunate. Our mothers and grandmothers have fought tougher battles. I do agree that the representation of women is less. Be it in politics, bureaucracy or any other sector but we are in largely better times now. I wouldn’t say it was difficult for me to make it because like I said earlier merit has no gender. Ultimately bureaucracy is about you executing a job and how well you perform.

SOM: What are the pros and cons of being a woman boss?

RohiniSindhuri: I think women are better administrators. I have seen is that women have a better overall perspective of an issue because we are a more rounded kind of personality as we manage home and work well and know multi-tasking. As administrators, we have this advantage but the flip side is that being at the helm of administrative affairs you will not be able to devote enough time to your family and that pricks you.

SOM: Any advice for youngsters who want to take up Civil Services?

RohiniSindhuri: It is not only about a particular field. I feel it’s time that everyone must aspire to have education and aspire to work. My advice to youngsters is to invest in themselves in terms of upgrading skills and try to give the best and not get belittled by situations or people. 

SOM: What is women empowerment for you?

RohiniSindhuri: Freedom of choice. You need to have the liberty to choose but unfortunately in some patriarchal societies, others make decisions for you. I think if you reach a certain age and you are educated enough, you must be able to make your own choices and also be aware of its consequences.

SOM: Your take on Women’s Day.

RohiniSindhuri: Women’s Day is essential an expression of the idea of sisterhood and what struggles we have had and how long our journeys have been. Until we have a fair and equitable society this day is relevant.

‘Food and nutrition is our forte’: Dr. Annapurna Singh, Director, csir-cftri

Dr. Annapurna Singh is an accomplished food technologist and active researcher who took over as the first lady Director of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research – Central Food Technological Research Institute (CSIR-CFTRI) in January 2021. After passing out from CFTRI with M.Sc, she worked with Kissan Products Limited in Bengaluru for a short period and returned to CFTRI and climbed up to the position of Chief Scientist and head of Protein Chemistry and Technology Department before moving to the position of Director.

Dr. Annapurna Singh, Director, csir-cftri

SOM: You are the first woman to hold this prestigious position. How does it feel?

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Dr. Annapurna: I have worked in CFTRI for three decades and this has been like a home. This Institute holds a respectable place in Mysuru and has had many visionary leaders and directors. I feel humbled and blessed to be carrying on the legacy and will do justice to my position. 

SOM: Your message for women for a career in Food Science and Technology

Dr. Annapurna: Food and nutrition have always been a forte for women world over, especially in India. Even before Food Science and Technology was recognised as a profession, we have imbibed a lot of cooking abilities, nutritional knowledge and food processing technologies from our grandmothers and mothers so with the natural skills ingrained in us, I feel that women have a great future. Men are also opting for it due to the scope.

SOM: How will you encourage youngsters to explore this field?

Dr. Annapurna: It is a sought-after field and the scope is growing. More and more people are depending on food to prevent chronic and lifestyle diseases and many youngsters are now realising that diet and disease are intricately connected.

SOM: Malnutrition among women and children is still rampant. Have any steps been taken to mitigate this?

Dr. Annapurna: Since inception in 1950, one of the major mandates of CFTRI has been to treat malnutrition. This institute has been developing a lot of supplementary foods. Some of our products have also been used in mid-day meal programmes. We are trying to connect with State Governments and collaborate with many institutions so that we can make a difference through our foods.

SOM: Do you face any challenges in your job being a woman?

Dr. Annapurna: My colleagues have been more than helpful and I have never felt any gender bias at any time. My family rallied around me and my senior colleagues understood my compulsions.

SOM: What are your views on Women’s Day?

Dr. Annapurna: For me every day has to be a Woman’s Day. Women actually do unpaid jobs and make a happy home without thinking about their own comforts. It’s nice that at least once a year we do take note of their contributions.

‘Women can succeed everywhere’ : Rukmini Madegowda, Mayor, Mysuru City

Newly elected Mayor of Mysuru, Rukmini Madegowda of JD(S) has been into social service since 13 years. Hailing from Doranahalli in Mandya, Rukmini Madegowda has been active in politics and was earlier appointed as the Works Committee Chairperson.

Rukmini Madegowda, Mayor, Mysuru City

SOM:  Did you have to face any obstacles to reach this coveted position?

Rukmini Madegowda: My journey as a Corporator began in 2007 and I have been active since then. Initially I did face some hardships but that’s part of every job. I learnt how to overcome the challenges. My husband has been a great support.

SOM: How do you propose to make Mysuru city safer for women?

Rukmini Madegowda: For now I would want to build rest rooms for Pourakarmikas of all 65 Wards. Safety wise, street-lighting also plays a major role.

SOM: Mysuru city is known to be one of the cleanest cities. What are your plans to bring back Mysuru to its number 1 spot?

Rukmini Madegowda: We will be giving utmost importance to SwachhSurvekshan. Awareness programmes have been conducted in the past and we will continue to educate citizens on cleanliness and hygiene. With the support of all 65 Corporators, I am sure we will be able to do a good job.

SOM: What do you think of the present status of women in politics? 

Rukmini Madegowda: It feels nice    that women are being successful in every field and not just in politics. Women are being recognised in the mainstream. It shows that woman can venture into any field and be successful.

SOM: How do you balance work  and family?

Rukmini Madegowda: It is not all that difficult. My job is my passion and I enjoy what I am doing so nothing seems difficult. I come from a joint family who are supportive which is a huge advantage.

‘We have better logical reasoning’: Dr. Suman D. Pennekar, Dy. Director, Karnataka Police Academy

Dr. Suman D. Pennekar is a 2013 batch IPS officer who has been serving as the Deputy Director of Karnataka Police Academy. With her roots in Belagavi, she is an Ayurvedic Doctor who later joined Civil Services. She has earlier served as Assistant Superintendent of Police in Karkala, Superintendent of Police, Lokayukta Bengaluru and later as Kodagu SP.

Dr. Suman D. Pennekar, Dy. Director, Karnataka Police Academy

SOM: What has been your motivating factor?

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Suman Pennekar: My father has been my biggest motivator. His inspiring words made me take up Civil Services. Since childhood he would make me read newspapers and watch news on television. He would tell me about great personalities. It is he who got me a syllabus copy of Civil Services while I was still doing my graduation. 

SOM: Do you feel any gender disparity in your job?

Suman Pennekar: I haven’t experienced gender bias at my level except in posting sometimes. Women have succeeded in every field and people have accepted this fact which is a progressive sign but I feel in some patriarchal societies, gender disparity still exists.

SOM: Is this job more challenging for a lady than for a man?

Suman Pennekar:  No, we do the same amount of work as men do and we also undergo the same training. In fact women have a better logical reasoning and emotional quotient. We go into the depth and think in various perspectives.

SOM: What message would you want to give women who want to joinPolice Force?

Suman Pennekar: There is a lot of scope for women in Policing and there is 25 percent reservation for women. We have a lot of women officers who have made a difference in the Force especially in SJPU (Special Juvenile Police Units) wherein they go and rescue women and children and also take care of the issues pertaining to child marriages and harassments at home. The feeling of wearing Khaki and the stars is really different.

SOM: According to you what is  women empowerment?

Suman Pennekar: For me, it has to come naturally. Empowerment must be within you. I feel even a home-maker is as empowered as me and what I am today. Every woman is special and is empowered in different roles.

SOM: Besides your profession what interests you? 

Suman Pennekar: I love trekking and travelling. I love being with the nature and I have picked up cycling recently which has become part of my routine exercise every morning.

‘It is important to be educated’ : Deena Uthappa, Vice-Principal, Police Public School 

Deena Uthappa, Vice-Principal at Police Public School, has done her graduation in English Literature after completing B.Ed. She is also a national basketball player who hails from Kodagu. She belongs to Chendrimada (Chemira) family. Deena joined Police Public School as a teacher before she was promoted as Vice-Principal. She has over 12 years experience being associated with Police Public School in Jalapuri which was started mainly to give quality education to the children of Policemen.

Deena Uthappa, Vice-Principal, Police Public School

SOM: What inspired you to take up teaching?

Deena Uthappa: I was always passionate about teaching as I wanted to make a difference and reach out to children and mould them in a positive way. I feel nowadays children are lacking moral values and the human connectivity has gone away maybe because of the advancement of technology. Here at Police Public School, our aim is to cater quality education and help the children of Police personnel.

SOM: What advice would you like to give young girls of today?

Deena Uthappa: It is important to be educated as it gives you an opportunity to stand on one’s own two feet and keep moving ahead so that you understand how the world is and how things work. They also need to be bold and confident.

SOM: What are the advantages of being lady teacher?

Deena Uthappa: Women are more patient compared to men. They have the ability to deal with stress in a better way and only a woman can understand the emotional part of a child and other qualities. They can also make girl students feel more comfortable.

SOM: Women play multiple roles in their lives which role do you enjoy playing the most?

Deena Uthappa: Women take up the responsibility of family and they are capable of playing every role to perfection. Yes women do play multiple roles in their daily lives be it as wife, mother, daughter, sister, administrator and so on. I personally enjoy every role that I play in my life.

SOM: There’s a lot of stress and competition in young minds to perform well. What is the best way to deal with it?

Deena Uthappa: Parents must not exert pressure to take a particular stream or a particular subject. They must determine what skills the child is good at and guide them rightly. It is important that the students are counselled and comforted especially ahead of examinations by both parents and teachers.

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