Power Trendsetter: Archana Ramasundaram | Verve Magazine
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July 07, 2016

Power Trendsetter: Archana Ramasundaram

Text by Ranjabati Das

For becoming the first female paramilitary chief in the country, silencing critics in a male-dominated field and coming out on top, time and again

Archana Ramasundaram has turned the tide in a profession where the female to male ratio is completely skewed (1,000 women in a force of 72,000 personnel) in India. No-nonsense, resilient and influential, the former director general of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) — who loves reading books based on history and real life — has been appointed director general of the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), the part of the Central Armed Police Forces that is responsible for guarding India’s international borders with Nepal and Bhutan.

Battling gender biases: When the new recruit joined the Indian Police Service in 1980, she was the only woman in her batch. No doubt ‘awkward’, as she has gone on record saying. “I wait for the day when we won’t make news because of our gender. I have set my goals not only to increase the number of women personnel in SSB but also to strive for their effective deployment in core areas rather than as a supplementary unit.”

On her post: “Everyone talks about me ‘making history’, but for me it’s a post with a difference. Bhutan and Nepal are perceived as friendly countries. We are guarding open borders. We have to be sensitive to feelings of people on both sides. My background in the CBI and NCRB helps.”

Prime qualities for IPS: “Good decision-making ability. It is also important to move forward with the team. There’s no written direction most of the time, so one has to act on basis of faith and trust. As for giving advice, each person is a different individual; so you have to chart your own way. I don’t believe in role models, actually.”

Fostering social development: “The force is involved with many civic action initiatives; we help the border populations and empower women. Fighting human trafficking is a cause close to my heart and the Indo-Nepal border is sensitive in this regard: we intervene and rescue victims. This year, all SSB units will undertake activities to implement the national Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme in border areas. ”

Read about our next power woman, Kareena Kapoor Khan.

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