The first woman chief of a paramilitary force, Archana Ramasundaram says leadership quality is more important than gender for tackling challenging assignments. In an interview with Rahul Tripathi, the 58-year-old IPS officer says she would work on increasing the representation of women in the force and discusses the roadmap for SSB. Excerpts:
What took so long for a woman to be appointed DG of a paramilitary force?
There are primarily two reasons: One, women IPS officers have started reaching the level of DG rank now.Two, there is a change in mindset. Earlier, it used to be difficult for woman to get posted at combat position as it required physical strength and the general perception was that the women are weaker. When I was posted as DIG in Tamil Nadu, I had to go and ask my DG for field posting like other IPS officers. Having said that, I also look forward to a time when appointment of a woman as paramilitary DG will not make news.
What are the reasons for low representation of women in police force?
As police personnel, most of the time you are in action that requires physical strength that could be one of the reasons but now a lot of women are joining at various levels in police including constabulary, sub inspector and inspector level. It is true most of the real police work assigned to women cops are mundane and I do not see why women are not more and more involved in core policing.
What is the percentage of women in SSB? How ddo you plan to increase their participation.
At present, women constitute nearly 3% of the total strength. We have been sanctioned 21 companies by the home ministry. By 2018, we will complete the recruitment after which we estimate that the representation will rise to 5%. This is, however, very negligible and I feel that the representation of women in paramilitary shall increase further.
As a woman IPS officer, what has been the most challenging assignment of your carreer?
It is very difficult to compare but I think the initial days when I was posed as additional SP in Tamil Nadu, language was problem. At times, I also feel nostalgic about those days as I used to accompany the raiding teams and search party and used to spend hours with the lower staff sharing tea or coffee. I feel that leadership quality is more important than gender for tackling challenging assignments.
Source: The Economic Times (Bangalore)
Date: 4th February, 2016.