Charu Sinha, CRPF Head Srinagar: Women Should Never Self-Impose A Glass Ceiling

Charu Sinha interview, Charu Sinha
In 2020, Charu Sinha set a pioneering moment when she became the first woman to be appointed as the Inspector General (IG) of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in Srinagar sector, one of the highly sensitive areas in Jammu and Kashmir. The post was first carved out in 2005. Right before landing this role, she served as IG for the Jammu sector, and in Bihar, where she handled anti-Naxal operations.

An IPS officer of the Telangana cadre, Sinha joined the service in 1996. She is a graduate in English literature, History and Political Science from St Francis College for Women, Hyderabad. Sinha also completed her postgraduation in Political Science from Hyderabad Central University (University of Hyderabad).

Sinha spent much of her career in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, where she handled challenges such as factional feuds, apart from Naxalism and communalism.

Carving her niche in a male-dominated field wasn’t an easy journey for Sinha, who talked about her struggles in a 2017 interview.

“When I joined the force, it was difficult in the male-dominated field. Media always wanted to know where I go, whom I meet and so on. It was almost as if I didn’t have a personal life,” she was quoted as saying. “But things gradually changed.”

But have they really? In an interview to SheThePeople, Sinha opened up on tackling discrimination at workplace, taking initiatives for mental wellness, propagating gender sensitising and much more.

Charu Sinha interview: “Never self-impose a glass-ceiling”

You previously mentioned battling discrimination on your way to this leadership position. How difficult was it to navigate the male-dominated field? And has it gotten better over the years and if not, how do you tackle it?

I won’t say it as discrimination because when we came into the service, we were straight away put into tough areas. This is definitely a very long subject to talk on, I would not be able to do justice to it in a few minutes. I won’t say there is discrimination in southern states like Andhra and all, but there is some in other states such as UP and Rajasthan. Discrimination has quite varied meanings if we look at.

As a trainee officer in Bihar, you initiated a workshop primarily focused on gender sensitisation, which was offered as part of a larger mental wellness initiative aimed at tackling stress among CRPF personnel. It is something we usually don’t hear, how did you come up with the program and why is it the need of the hour?

The idea behind the workshop was to help the personnel look past gender stereotypes, and facilitate a more meaningful conversation between them and their families. We started gender conversation with about 5,000 constables in Bihar and it has now grown to about 20,000. It began because we believe most of us are suffering from the burden of patriarchy. The entire system of patriarchy affects women participation in country’s workforce because she suffers under severe patriarchal constraints.

For instance, even in states like Kerala where literacy rate is high, we find women dropping out of workforce when they reach at the peak of their careers. Once she reaches a certain age, society starts questioning her, reminding her about children, and who will take care them if she is away for long hours, etc. Hence, this study helped us figure out how the patriarchal system works in different states affecting the female participation in the workforce. I would like to say it is a great honour to be a part of top government service and be able to impact the way men work and the way they understand women.

It has been almost 26 years since you joined the service. You were instrumental in providing assistance in the recent Amarnath Yatra cloudburst tragedy, you and your squad have awarded with various gallantry medals. It will be definitely be unfair of me to ask you to pick one specific incident, but if I may what remains the most special case that you worked on from all these years?

I think ever since I have come to Srinagar sector, it has almost been two years now. Here, everyday brings a fresh challenge, every day we are on our feet, so if its Amarnath Yatra, then after that came the Muharram and then the 15th August. Almost every month, there are a few days when we have to be on our toes because of the nature of the militancy, so if you ask me any special incident, I am just finding it little difficult to recall. However, what I enjoy most is finding solutions to these every day challenges. The most exiting part of my job is looking for solutions right away and not dragging or leaving things for tomorrow or later. I think I have grown immensely in this job, and I am really grateful for that.

Sometimes when you are dealing with crimes that really shake you to the core, do you find your emotions taking over? How do you unwind after a tough day?

I enjoy painting, I take old broken pieces of furniture and try painting over them. I enjoy reading as well. So I unwind in that way. I have also recently started teaching a particular branch of psychotherapy, it is a healing methodology. So I take classes of it and help other people to  introspect at their lives and heal in their own way so that they can be healthy and happy.

As a first female IPS appointed at the CRPF Srinagar, you definitely shattered the glass ceiling. What advice would you like to give to the young girls who feel trapped and confused in their careers?

I would say select whatever it is that they would love to do and then just go ahead with that. If they would like to take up any challenge, then I want to advice young women to not impose a glass ceiling on themselves. Never assume or thing that you won’t do this because you are not allowed to because of you family, men or office. Whatever it is just go ahead and see where life takes you and I am very sure that once you go with flow of life, it will be extremely wonderful. That’s exactly what I have done and that is what I would ask all girls to do – jump, take a leap of faith and I am sure it will take you to wonderful places.

Suggested Reading: Meet Charu Sinha, The CRPF Srinagar Head At The Forefront Of Amarnath Yatra Operations


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