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Tuesday, June 21, 2016




One woman, many roles(CREDITS TO THE HINDU/ IN SCHOOL )

As an engineer, she changed TELCO’s employment policy; as a writer, she has encouraged many to take to reading — Sudha Murthy, the author in focus

“The great Tatas have always been pioneers. They are the people who started the basic infrastructure for industries in India, such as iron and steel, chemicals, textiles, and locomotives. They have cared for higher education in India since 1900 and they were responsible for the establishment of the Indian Institute of Science. Fortunately, I study there. But I am surprised how a company such as TELCO is discriminating on the basis of gender,” wrote a young Sudha Murthy to JRD Tata in response to a job application that said “Lady candidates need not apply.” Little did she know then that she would make history, and become an icon for women's employment.
Sudha Murthy’s life story has never failed to impress many. Born in Hubli, a small town in Karnataka, she was always focused on academics. Once she was finished with school, she decided to take up Electrical Engineering at the BVB College of Engineering. It was still the early 1970s and engineering was a rare choice for women. Undeterred, Sudha Murthy went on to receive medals and accolades for her achievements while pursuing a post graduate degree in Computer Science at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore. Back then, in the batch of 1975, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay, had less than five women in a class of 306. So, it didn’t come as a surprise when Sudha Murthy was the only woman in her Computer Science class.
And that’s when she came across the notice from TELCO on the bulletin board. Surprisingly, she did receive a response that clarified the real reason behind asking women to refrain from applying. It was that engineers would be required to stay back at the factory for long hours that would extend late into the evening. This wouldn’t sit well with woman candidates as their safety would be a major concern. While that was an acceptable line of reasoning, Sudha Murthy believed that women engineers had to be given a chance somewhere. Eventually she became TELCO’s (and probably India’s) first woman engineer.
Meanwhile, her experiences at work and her memories of growing up in a small town led to birth the author within Sudha Murthy. She began writing in Kannada, her native tongue, as well as in English. Her stories always inspire young readers and inform them about the various issues that are faced by common people in everyday life. Her collection of short stories How I Taught My Grandmother to Read and Other Stories chronicle her memories and experiences with her grandparents and older relatives, and has been translated into numerous vernacular languages. A Marathi movie is said to have been based on one of her stories.
Sudha Murthy has always been one to test limits. She did not stop at short stories but forayed into writing full-fledged novels as well. Her first novel titled House of Cards chronicles the turbulence faced by the wife of a successful doctor. Sudha Murthy wove tales with women as the main characters, and why shouldn’t she? After all, she is one of the most inspirational women our country has ever seen.

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