Anushree Nalgundwar is a first-year student pursuing PGD-HRM from XLRI, Jamshedpur. A self-confessed feminist and debate enthusiast, she is vocal about the need for providing quality education to girls at the primary level, nd has worked as a teaching volunteer at the NGO Make a Difference(MAD). Her hobbies include reading, singing and exploring new places.
What was high school like for you? How did it contribute to your personality/ the person you are right now?
I studied at Delhi Public School, Surat, and the institution was instrumental in shaping my opinions and worldview. They say good teachers change your life, and the kind of affection and knowledge that our mentors imparted helped built relationships that last even after we passed out of school. We, as students were encouraged to debate and question everything that’s taught to us in the class, read books and contribute to our special class libraries. It’s at this stage that I picked up debating and interest in elocution, a passion that’s stayed with me since. I went on to represent Gujarat at National Level, with support and guidance of my school.
If money was no object, what would you do all day?
Reading is something that I enjoy immensely, and if money and/or time wasn’t a constraint, I’d sit under the shade of a tree under the sunlight, with a cup of coffee in one hand, and a book in other, forever! Having said that, I’ve always dreamt of building libraries and hence I’d like to devote my time and resources to that cause.
What advice would you give to a 5-year-younger you?
Five years ago, I was on the cusp of joining college and tasting the freedom of the so-called adult life for the first time, moving out of my house and living independently. As I look back, I realise my perception about life was a bit naïve and I was impulsive, didn’t think things through. I’d advise my younger self to be more patient and meticulous, plan more and be a little more forgiving.
How do you think women are better equipped to deal with problems as compared to men?
The biggest strength women have is that they are generally more sensitive to people and environment around them. They work well under uncertainty and ambiguity, and would always analyse the problem through various vantage points before reaching a conclusion - something we lovingly call “Stakeholder analysis” in the MBA jargon. Women are ingrained to be more inclusive, and that’s what gives them the edge.
Many IIMs and other b-schools award extra points for being a woman. What is your take on that? Do you propagate the concept OR Have you faced any backlash for the same?
I believe in meritocracy, which should be the cornerstone of every educational process. The concept of awarding diversity points, by virtue of being a female, undermines the very sanctity of the selection process. Sure, diversity contributes immensely to the learning process in a B-school, but forcing diversity is regressive in the long run. It builds up resentment in deserving candidates and may instil bias in the recruiters too, during the campus recruitment processes. I personally espouse that the only reason one should be in a premier b-school is because one deserves to be there on merit, and nothing else.
Name one incident that you encountered where someone told you, you couldn’t do something because you’re a woman.
Being raised as an only girl child, my parents inculcated the belief that daughters are equally, if not more capable, than sons. This bolstered my confidence and I’ve never looked back since. No one would explicitly question my capability to perform well in exams, be ambitious, or solve a complex math problem- but it’s always implicit in their behaviour. This is so commonplace, that we fail to recognise the veiled reference, in simple notions like women’s traffic sense! I, like all the girls, have had to prove my worth at each step, and it's heartening to see us win this war, one battle at a time.
If you are out on a date, do you prefer to pay yourself? If you insisted that you want to pay for yourself, how did the other person react?
I espouse equality on all fronts, and this holds true even on dates. I like to pay for myself, and that may be construed as rude or being a feminazi, but I always insist on going dutch. Though if the person still persists, I give in but make sure I treat him the next time.