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Bindi Bottoms
Vanita Ambike Rtd. RBI employee, Pune

"I wasn’t studious till my father promised to send me to college. The idea of being a college-going girl really excited me. I studied sincerely during Senior Secondary. I was amongst the top 10 performers in my school. However, after the results, my father went back on his word. He told me that he didn’t have the means to send me to college. This infuriated me. I didn’t speak to him for days. I even gave up food till he agreed to let me study further. This was 1963.

I decided to fund my own education and secretly applied for a job with the Reserve Bank of India. My father wasn’t comfortable with the idea of a daughter who worked for a living. The cat came out of the bag soon, though. The medical tests were being conducted in a scary clinic and I needed him to accompany me. He was shocked, but eventually agreed to come along.

The opposition to my Master’s wasn’t as strong as the opposition to my Bachelor’s had been. By this time, my father had realised the “serviceability” of education. My elder sister was having trouble finding a groom, because most men wanted working wives by then.

After I earned first position during MA, PhD became my next ambition. By this time my father had started looking for a life partner for me. My biggest condition was that my husband should be more qualified than me. So, when the subject of the PHD came up, my father put his foot down. He told me that if I did a PhD, it would be difficult for him to find a groom more educated than me. Times were different; women expected husbands with higher qualifications than theirs. I didn’t fight him on this.

When my father refused to fund my brother’s engineering education, I realised that his opposition to my higher education wasn’t only because of my gender. He actually did not have the means to support my education. We were a family with three daughter and two sons and only one income, so we had very limited funds. Fortunately, by then, the elder siblings were earning. We intervened and sent our brother to an engineering college. It’s because I rebelled and was earning. I feel content that education helped me support people I loved and cared for."


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