Unfortunately women empowerment is not going to work if it is top heavy and filtering down says Anita Hada Sangwan

Anita Hada Sangwan is a very important name in the Journalism of Rajasthan . She has very strong personality yet she is very grounded.She made all her surrounding women proud and her conviction towards her work and family motivates many .She interviewed more than 700 celebrities including Amitabh bachchan, Sri Sri Ravishankar , Deepak chopra , Swami ramdev, Subramanium Swami ,Princess Diya Kumari , Padam shree Arjun Prajapati ,Tarun Sagar ji Maharaj, Mahant Ji (Moti dungari), Vishal Bawa ( Nathdwara Mahant ) , Bibi Russell (Fashion Designer) , Rajkumar Hirani (Director) , R Madhvan (Actor) …. list is long.We are lucky to have her on our Vama Platform . Let’s have some words with her and know more about her and her views on Women Empowerment.

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Tell us something about  yourself and your family ?

My name is Anita Hada Sangwan, though for the major part of my life I have been known as Anu, my parents are Colonel D.S. Hada and Kamal Hada. My father was in the Armed Forces . We are three sisters and I’m the second child. My elder sister is about two and a half years elder to me and the youngest was born seven years after I was. Our’s is a close knit family. I come from a large family of aunts, uncles, cousins – all connected and caring. While growing up our parents never made us feel like we are three daughters and must be treated in a specific way and our education must be according to that.We were taught to be responsible for ourselves. It was made clear to us what was expected of us vis a vis the family.I studied till 5th grade in convents and after that being my father posted to different places so often,it was convenient to study at Kendriya Vidyalaya. Our parents instilled confidence in us while we were growing up. All three of us are confident and outgoing women because of our upbringing.. I get my work ethics of discipline, excellence and principles from my Dad and my life ethics- values, sense of humor, positivity – from my Mom. The love of reading was passed on to us as a legacy. We always had books in our house and we always saw our parents reading. I find it ironic these days when today’s parents complain about their kids, “Kya karein, ye books nahi padhte.. Comics nahi padhte…” because the constant criticism we received from our parents was because they thought we spent too much time buried in books ! Even today we are very close, we also tie ‘raakhi’ to each other, our is ‘I am here for you’ bond. We had a fairly normal life as children coming from an army background.

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Tell us about your life after marriage ?

Ours was an arranged marriage. At that time due to our family circumstances were such that “I had to enter into wedlock at a fairly early age”. So I got married as soon as I turned 18 and was in my first year of college. My husband Amarjeet was in the army. Although my in laws hailed from a fairly traditional background but they were modern in their thinking. My father in law was a part of the service sector – one of the few from the family to become an engineer. He served in Haryana State Electricity Board and my mother in law was a homemaker. I was lucky as I made a smooth transition from one close knit family to another. Although traditional in nature, my new family was far from conservative. A day after my marriage my mother in law told me to refrain from covering my head with the palla announcing that I am just like a daughter to her this incident touched my soul and made me more comfortable in my new family. My father in law pushed me to continue my studies and encouraged me in my academic endeavours. Later on , I graduated, after which there was no turning back. I earned an MA in Sociology,Bachelor of Education, along with an MA in English, an MBA and a Ph.D as well. I owe my academic success to none other than my husband. He is the one who motivated me. He took care of the children when I studied, postponed his vacations and made innumerable sacrifices. He is an ideal partner. I earned first division in all, I got an A+ in MBA and my PhD is a document worth preserving. Half of my success was due to my endeavors and will power and the other half I owe to my husband. He made an immense contribution to my education. My sons , Ashish and Arjun were also a great support though they found it amusing to have a mother who was also in the same boat of studies and exams as them. For me and Amarjeet parenting was a joint effort and I trust we have raised our sons right, imparting to them the ‘sanskars’.

How did working with ETV Rajasthan started and how was the journey so far ?

We shifted to Jaipur in 1999. I started my career as primary school teacher.In 2002 I became Principal of Alpha Beta School and after a successful tenure of 5 years, I joined Rukmani Birla Modern High School as Vice Principal of in 2007. 2007 will always remain etched in my memory , our elder son suffered a life threatening injury in an accident and suddenly life turned topsy turvy, the old ambitions and desires had no value . God was kind and he recovered completely, we emerged as an even stronger and more resilient close knit family from this crisis. In 2011 I left Rukhmani Birla School so I could complete my PhD as the atmosphere was not conducive to personal growth and development. After numerous discussions with my husband I decided to start a new chapter in my life. During February 2011 I first met Jagdish Chandra Sir and I started a journey into the world of television. ETV Rajsthan led to a lot of learning in my life. I learnt to speak Hindi and write it as well. It made me fall in love with my mother tongue. When JC Sir shifted to ZEE , it was never a question for me , he is my guru and mentor. At present I am thoroughly enjoying my stint at ZEE Rajasthan News.

How do you manage your time ?

She smiles and said : Marry the right man :). If you have a supportive family, you will never have any issues. Secondly, I choose to do what I do. Half hearted efforts are not on the agenda. I have made up my mind to enjoy everything that I do. Earlier I used to crib about getting ready for work on Sunday mornings. Then I changed my outlook. I decided to take each day at a time and enjoy it as this phase in my life will end soon. The most important aspect regarding the time management is that we women are too harsh on ourselves. We want to be superwomen- multitasking successfully. We want a blemish less face, flawless home, and perfect work churned out at office. Women have begun to internalize gender roles. They have begun to treat housework as a biological function imposed by God himself as opposed to roles implied by society. Also when we venture out into the public domain, we feel as if we are entering a Man’s World where we continuously try to prove our mettle as better workers than men. We must let go a bit and take the pressure off ourselves. In this way we will be better colleagues and better wives. “A husband would rather have a loving and smiling wife at home rather than a grumpy wife in a well dusted home”. Learn to love yourselves. The sky won’t fall because the shoes aren’t on the right rack. Use your time to bond with your family and forge strong ties. A messy house can be overcome but if your family relationships get foiled, they can’t be recovered so easily. People at my work place often assume that my house is flawless because I am such a perfectionist in the work sphere. I reassure them that my house is just as perfect as it needs to be, not more than that.

Tell us something about the Training in the police academy?

My PhD deals with gender critical theory, issues and feminism, my topic is –“Corroborating Politics: The Feminism of Beauvoir ans Das” . I work on the same issues practically and also academically. Let me explain it through a case study . When I go to Rajasthan Police Academy to notify them about gender issues, then I get to hear point of views like “ A woman is a woman’s worst enemy” “Saas hi bahu pe zyada bandisht lagati hai” etc. I help them realize that they are the ones who have confined women to their homes. I asked an officer- “Please introduce yourself and enumerate your achievements?” The man answered mentioning his professional feats – I solved three robberies, one kidnapping and one murder. I asked him why he didn’t mention that he is the father of two children? ” He had no answer. See, a woman’s role as a child bearer and rearer are seen as her achievements. If she cooks well, does beautiful embroidery work and makes delicious laddoos than she is the best- if you limit her achievements to the domestic hearth. Her identity is constricted to being a mother, sister daughter or wife. To further explain the concept I asked them to imagine themselves as the protagonist of their story. If a youthful tech savvy man was placed beside each sub inspector and then ultimately overshadows your work and replaces you, how would you feel? Just like a woman is deprived of time to pursue leisurely activities and thus stripped of her identity, confined to make pakodas and chai in the kitchen. In time, she is replaced by a younger bahu and feels devalued – as though a loss of identity has taken place. The only solution to this problem is to bring the women out- let them talk about their own achievements. Identify a woman as a politician, a teacher, a professional as opposed to just a mother, daughter or wife.

You are associated with 2 NGOs – where does this calling comes from when your platter is already full?

Non Governmental Agencies are a very recent trend. For us it was a part of growing up. When I was a child, I was impressed by my father. One evening he went out and on returning we realised that he was in a bad mood, he told us he had gone to inspect the food provisions for the jawans and found some discrepancies. In retrospect I realize that my father was one of the few people who cared about the welfare of the men before the idea earned the wide popularity it boasts today. Back in those days NGO’s weren’t as active as they are now. As a young woman I would often impart education to the offsprings of my maid. My association with NGO’s began a long time ago, it did not begin with me joining the bandwagon as it is fashionable in today’s day and age. On the formal structure how I entered the arena of social work is very simple. I was conducting my third interview with Ravi Kamra, JK. Jajoo and Bhavya Jagwanion eye donation. I carried out research on this very important cause. Before sitting down for the interview, I declared that I would like to donate my eyes for the cause. This touched the interviewees, and Bhavna Jagwani jee was particularly impressed. With her support I joined the eye donation cause at that time and worked at the mortuary for three years once a week, counselling for eye donation. Three years ago we started with the organ donation project in Rajasthan under the guidance of Bhavna Jagwani. . Navjeevan – MFJCF works on different platforms.The first one being asking the government to pass necessary orders. We work closely with the Rajasthan Government for this. The second thing that we do is staff training. Whether it be the doctors, the paramedical staff, councilors, class one coordinators, we provide training to all. We have an MOU with the Mohan Foundation. I am a trainer myself. The third thing we do is spread awareness. This is of paramount importance. We hold awareness talks all over Rajasthan. Being a public speaker I hold events in schools, colleges, institutions as well as clubs- basically any public platform where we can attract an audience. Grief counselling is a major part of Navjeevan, we have trained grief counselors as part of our committed team.
One of my colleagues started a school and sought my guidance which I rendered compliantly. Soon I realized the project wasn’t taking the shape I had imagined so I decided to step back. I believe that one must give their best to their cause. There is nothing inspiring about half hearted work. Around a year after working for eye donation I came in contact with Gurinder Ji and Rashmi Kuchchal. We connected on a different level- not just that of social work. He became a brother to me and I began to invest more time and energy to the cause. RAYS- Aasha ki ek Kiran NGO is a home for HIV + kids. From raising funds to career counseling, we provide it all. We have wonderful children whom we nurture and love . I consider them to be a part of my family. In both of the places me and my husband work as volunteers. We saw it as sewa and never sought monetary compensation or fame.

According to you , what is the definition of women empowerment ?

What I have realized is that the bigger the word more we obscure the problem. The solution is simple. We cannot empower the women until we do not empower the girls. Unfortunately women empowerment is not going to work if it is top heavy and filtering down. It has to begin from below. There are 89 schemes of the Rajasthan government for the girl and for the women but in reality it is not so. We have consistently seen that whether it be the BJP government or the Congress government, the position of women is changing so slowly that it is almost negligible. The case can be described as a two step forward, one step backward situation. For every 2 girls who make it to school or escape a child marriage, there is 1 witchcraft and 1 child marriage case. We have to give the girl child equal immunization, food and education. Every time one mentions women empowerment, they are countered by mildly ironical comments, including- What do you mean by women empowerment? Women are already empowered. Be it Indira Gandhi, Indira Nooyi or Vasundara Raje. A man cannot even spend his money without asking his wife! These sarcastic statements are ridiculous. I tell them – When these things become the norm rather than the exception, that is the day. Today Indira Gandhi ji is an exception. Indira Nooyi is an exception. Vasundhara Raje is an exception. The norm is that we have the highest number of rapes of girls between 8 to 14 years. Due to lack of safety, lack of education, paucity of toilets, there are no proper facilities for girls. Only education is not going to empower women. I have seen so many women who are educated, working as professors and teachers who do not have access to their own bank accounts and ATM cards. Empower their minds as individuals. Self Defence is not physical. You have to make girls realize that we are responsible for ourselves physically mentally socially and financially. Till we believe that it is the duty of the man- the father, the brother, the son to take care of a woman, her empowerment cannot take place. Taking it on a page 3 level, I would say that a woman is empowered not only when she knows how to drive the car but also how to repair the punctured tyre. Educated women will be empowered when they are working and earning and alongside making their own financial decisions about investment- which we never do.

If you pick up any of the women’s magazine. How many advertisements do you see for retail, for cars or for insurance. You will not. You will find cosmetics, clothes and mobile phones. Hamari PEHCHAN bus itni hi hai. Kaunsa gas ka choola ayega? Kaunsi saari pehenge? Kaunse zewar pehnenge? Kaunsi cosmetics lagayenge? No marketing company targets women when it comes to insurance, cars, paint, house or even pen advertisements in such magazines.

What are your plans for the future?

We have just started our own family business of corporate and Diwali gifts. Riwaaz- The love of gifting. We have just started it on a very small scale last year but this year I have tied up with a couple of very good companies basically for handicrafts. I have a trip planned to Agra ad Moradabad. By July I hope to launch a full fledged line of products – A complete line of diwali and corporate gifts. That is something I am looking forward to. Secondly, by July I am launching my own YouTube channel by the name of “Masterni Didi”. Today there is a gap between Hindi speaking children and world culture. . There are so many children who are moving out of their regional languages and Hindi and they don’t know basic things like how to write an application, a resume, a cv, message or not, what is a pre interview or a post interview, how to give a presentation etc. So I am starting Masterni Didi ki class. I will prepare two minute videos on these useful topics through the week and on weekends, general motivational positive videos on parental issues, sibling issues, gender issues etc. I am working on this. English Communication is my expertise. I am also writing a book for the Hindi speaking child on the same topic. This is going to be free. I am going to reach out to these children so I can help them out. I am also working on my next book of fiction which is short stories in Hindi, I hope to publish it within 2017.

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Any message for VamaIndia readers ?

I would like to convey my compliments to VamaIndia.in because I think that you are doing a very important job. We women across the world need to know that there are others out there with stories just like us. I am not someone special. I come from a middle class home . Even today, everyday I strive and I pray that I am able to live up to the expectations of my parents and my family. All of us out there – whenever we tell our life stories, we connect with each other. The quality of sisterhood is something which is very important. We have to understand that women talking to women is not a woman issue. Domestic abuse is not a woman issue. Women Empowerment is not a woman issue. Rape is not a woman issue. These are social issues. So I hope that there will be as many intelligent, secure men who are the readers of VamaIndia because they will realize that when you empower women like us, we will make your life even more beautiful. There is no insecurity to let your wife earn a living, she will make your bond much closer. There is no danger in letting your daughter go and study, she will make you a proud father one day. It is these stories of different women from different classes that inspire us because many a time when we talk about Indira Gandhi, Jhansi ki Rani or Hada Rani, we think that they were different. But when Vama India tells the story of contemporary women, we realize that they are just like us. This is a hand holding that VamaIndia is doing. We can do it.

VamaIndia salutes to the courage and hard work of this Woman !!

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