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Break the hurdles, Make your own path!

Updated: Sep 7, 2020

By M. Palani Selvi, B.Sc.,


Indian Foreign Service (IFS) is a prestigious diplomatic civil service under group A. The diplomats involved in framing foreign policies and management of Indian missions abroad. This service is considered as a challenging one among all the other civil services.

Chonira Belliappa Muthamma, the first woman IFS officer, was born in Karnataka. She was a woman, who faced the challenges with a smile in her face and courage in her heart. She took her profession as an IFS officer in 1949 and posted as the Third Secretary in the Indian Embassy, Paris. It was a period when most women of India didn’t even dare to get out of their home. Her path to achieve her desired destination was not the bed of roses. Being a woman she had to face gender bias all through her journey. Her struggle started right from the UPSC interview board. She had been discouraged from choosing her first option as IFS by the board members in the UPSC board interview. It was believed that IFS service is not suitable for women. But she is the one who broke this stereotype with her strong determination and convinced the board members and entered her service in 1949. But she was made to sign an undertaking that she would resign if she got married. She rendered great service in her profession with sincerity and devotion. All through her diplomatic career, she had to struggle against gender discrimination, even in promotion as an Ambassador. She can be rightly called as the crusader for women’s rights and an inspiration for the women who want to achieve a diplomatic career. She tirelessly fought to bring gender equality in male-dominated Indian civil services. Dr.Salma Farook, in her book “What your soul already knows”, says, “Go ahead, step on that stage and blind them with your brilliance”. If we have a burning desire towards our goal then no one can stop us from reaching our destination.

A successful woman is the one who can build a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at her. One such successful woman is Oprah Winfrey. She was born to a teenage mother in Kosciusko, Mississippi. Poverty hit her at a very young age. Her mother left her to seek a job and she was brought up by her grandmother until she turned six. Her childhood was miserable. She was repeatedly molested by her male family members from age 9-13. Since it was unbearable she ran away from there and she was sent to juvenile detention home but had no place there. A year later she went to live with her father in Tennessee and that became her turning point. She started to perform well in her school, won prizes for oratory. At the age of 17, she became Miss Black Tennessee. She started her career as a broadcaster at a local TV station. Then she got a call from the WLAC TV news station in Nashville. She accepted the offer and became the first female African-American news anchor at the age of 19. Next, she went on to a TV talk show called “People are talking” at a TV station in Baltimore, Maryland. And later on, she became a successful actress. Her life started with nothing but later she was named the most influential woman of her generation by Life Magazine. Oprah proved that the better investment one can make to smell the fragrance of success is, “Believing in themselves”, no matter how worse their life is. She overcame everything that was meant to destroy her.

Both the women reached their destination by breaking all the hurdles throughout their journey and they created history.

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