My late father was a Naval Police Officer. He was my inspiration.
A chance meeting with the Late Vice Admiral Manohar Awati, PVSM, Vr C while he was addressing students about what life was like in the armed forces in peace and war, fired my ambition and forged my choice of career. What was good for my father was good for me too.
Sex is a biological construction, whereas gender is a social construction. If you cover the sex of the child, you will see the child reflects all the feelings, expressions of a human being irrespective of gender. So a woman can perform all those duties which a man can perform, provided the opportunity and gender-sensitized authorities. I always wanted to do something different, something out of the ordinary, and something challenging in a male-dominated bastion. And so I cleared my Services Selection Board in January 1995, got commissioned in August 1995, and reported to my first appointment in July 1996, after a year’s training.
There were many instances of hardships. But the first instance was not being saluted initially. I worked out, that to command the respect of men of war, I needed to be competent. Competency gave me confidence, Confidence gave me knowledge, and knowledge gave me aspirations to think out of the box.
All my appointments have been special, but my fleet tanker appointment, which was a field posting and a novelty in those days, got me into the annals Indian Naval history and was the most fulfilling moment in my career. My job entailed ration allotment, management of pay, allowances, material, and the unit’s inventory, as well as providing administrative and infrastructural support for running the unit. I liked my job.
Now, as Deputy Controller of Civil Defence, a typical day in my life begins early in the morning, at around 4:30 am. I go for 20-25 km cycling or 6 km brisk walk, which is a must come rain or sunshine. I then prepare and coordinate family needs, go to the office, plan meetings, coordinate with various Disaster Management agencies, and conduct workshops on awareness programs from gram panchayat levels to district level offices and industries.
I endorse the views of Vijeta, the wife of Late IAF Pilot Ninad Mandavagane, who said “If you really want to do something, join the defense forces… If that’s not possible, keep your surroundings clean, don’t litter, don’t urinate in the open, and do not harass women. Stop spreading communal hatred. Small things go a long way.”
Through my current job as Deputy Controller of Civil Defence, I try to bring about such change. I am associated with NGO’s such as Stree Mukti Sanghthana run by Mrs. Jyoti Mhapsekar, supported by Padmashri Dr. SP Kale and Cdr Angsuman Ojha, a veteran who runs causes for disabled soldiers and rank veterans. I also support the Save the Sea campaign, run by Dr. Jyoti MJ Singh of the JyotiCare Foundation.
In my interaction with college, NSS Students, they ask me “Kitna milega?” meaning payment. I simply say, “Defence forces are a way of life.” And the life is tough but very fulfilling. One is responsible for the lives of so many men of war, it automatically takes you to another level of responsibility.
Cdr Rajeshwari Kori (Indian Navy Retired)
Deputy Controller of Civil Defence