From An Unknown Territory Of ‘Umariya’ To The ‘Mecca Of HRM’ : Celebrating Womanhood Of TISS Mumbai
Amidst the hectic schedule and never ending deadlines, we got a chance to have a badinage with Alka, an inspiration for many of us. She sets a perfect example of ‘never give up’ attitude. So let’s unfold her part of the story.
1. What was high school like for you? How did it contribute to your personality/ the person you are right now?
I was nine when I got selected for Jawahar Navodya Vidalaya. A residential school, it taught me to be independent and has been a source of great learning for me. I firmly believe that the biggest and the most important transformations that were brought in me were in Navodaya. I was just another student when I went there, but by sheer assiduousness, I became the girl district topper in grade 12.
I belong to Umariya, a very small village where people have typical stereotypes regarding caste and untouchability. Since my childhood, I have been taught what to do, what not to, whom to talk to, whom not to eat with and a whole list of ‘Not-to-do-activities’. But when I went to Navodaya, I met students from different parts of the society and diverse backgrounds. Our teachers always taught us to be united in order to achieve our purpose and I gradually started removing the so-called ‘stereotypes’ off my mind. But I would definitely say that the process of learning and especially unlearning was very difficult.
Navodaya even instilled in me the qualities of assertiveness and courage which have helped me sail through the harshest times of my life. Another important contribution was to instil the value of hard work in me, therefore, as a student I not only put efforts in my studies but I also developed many interests like singing, dancing, sports, writing poems and reading.
2. If money was no objective, what would you do all day?
I would sing (music being an inseparable part of my life), read and dance with a carefree attitude. Also, I would want to spend time with my school friends and have the never ending talks that we usually have.
3. What advice would you give to a 5-year-younger you?
I would advise a five year younger me, still in her high school, to make decisions herself and not base her decisions on others’ choices and opinions because she herself will have to live by her decisions and can come to regret them later. I believe if you make your own choices, even if you fail, you learn a great deal from them. I would also suggest her to be happy for whatever she has because, after a year, one laughs on what they were crying for, a year ago.
4. How do you think women are better equipped to deal with problems as compared to men?
I cannot apply this to all women but it surely applies to me. Since my childhood, I was independent and always stood for my rights to fulfil my dreams. To study or not to study after the 12th grade was a big debate between my family and me. Over a period of time, constantly standing up for my rights and my dreams, I gained tremendous confidence in doing things myself. I also believe, the struggles of my childhood have taught me to deal with situations pragmatically. Women, who struggle to get what boys in their families easily get, develop the required assertiveness and usually stick to their career goals and are confident in negotiating for things that they are actually deserving of.
5. 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 think it is right to give additional points to women because the main reason behind a distorted gender ratio in higher educational institutions is a low participation rate in the first place. If the percentage of women participating is so low, then how can we expect the results to be in favour of girls? Also, we cannot have a good institutional culture without different perspectives coming from both the genders and that is the reason why I believe that a greater participation from both the genders will lead to better ideas and stronger decision-making ability among our future leaders.
6. Name one incident that you encountered where someone told you, you couldn’t do something because you’re a woman.
It has happened to me not once but several times. When I was in the 12th grade, everybody around me held a stereotype that girls cannot score good marks in mathematics. The stereotype hurt me to a certain extent as I never really understood the reason behind it. So even though I used to be good at mathematics, I worked even harder and when the results were announced I got to know that I had received the highest marks in the subject in the class.
7. If you are out on a date, do you prefer to pay yourself?
If I am the one who has planned the date then I would definitely pay otherwise I would not.
About the Interviewee:
A down to earth person with a never give up attitude. Her love for music and singing is truly reflected in the rhythm of her life. Impervious to the crests and troughs, she has really come up as a strong and stalwart person. Her multi-cultural experience and love for simplicity make her an adorable personality.