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“Don’t Let People Judge You”, First Lady IPS Of Andhra Advices Women

Indian Masterminds Stories

Today women are breaking every glass ceilings coming their way, especially joining uniformed forces but back in 70s and 80s it was almost unimaginable for women to break into ‘traditional’ male bastion.

Yet, Aruna M Bahuguna did what most women couldn’t even think about – join Indian Police Services, way back in 1979. She became the first female IPS officer in Andhra Pradesh. Not only that she also rose to be the first lady Director of SVPNPA (Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy), training young IPS officers.  

In an exclusive conversation with Indian Masterminds, Ms. Bahuguna shared her experiences and spoke about how she achieved what she set out to. 

ALWAYS WANTED IPS 

Hailing from Hyderabad, Ms. Bahuguna was always inspired by her father, himself a civil servant. While her mother was a journalist who played important role in shaping her yet she chose her father’s footstep to follow. 

She went on become the first Director, SVPNPA

However, unlike her father she went into police force. She says, “I always saw my father working in the field and that inspired me. But,  I was not much of a file and desk person so policing always fascinated me.” 

After joining the IPS, she served as ASP in two sub-divisons and then headed two districts Vijayanagram and Vijayawada as SP. While public accepted her easily, her own department had doubts whether she could perform well. She says, “Most of them had never seen a women boss.” 

She also believes qualities like patience, endurance, the ability to listen, unwillingness to use brute force, makes woman asset for police in today’s world. Slowly, they are realizing that.

CAN’T MAKE MISTAKES

Ms. Bahuguna had to face a lot of sexism by her sub-ordinates. After her husband passed away in an accident, she was judged for keeping her job, raising her children instead of just being a homemaker. 

Ms. Bahuguna with her children

Not only this, she used to get blamed for her children’s mistakes. “They used to pass comments like ‘if mother will come out for work what else the child will do’. As a woman we don’t have the luxury to make mistakes not only personally but also professionally,”, she added. 

FORCE HAS EVOLVED 

Ms. Bahuguna with Dalai Lama

Ms. Bahuguna emphasized that lot has changed now in police. Now parents want their daughters to study and get independent. “The evolution reflects in the police department as well. A lot more needs to be changed. People still want to send women to a post dealing with women only or give her a desk job. I believe we shouldn’t settle for this and keep asking for field roles”, she says. 

GIVE PRIORITY TO YOURSELF 

The retired officer who loves to play guitar and piano to  relax, married again at the age of 50. She was mocked with comments like – at this age she should be getting her children married. However, she but remained unfazed.  “Women should do what they think is right for themselves”, she signs off. 


Indian Masterminds Stories

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