I am a Doctor of Medicine, specialized in obstetrics and gynaecology.
I come from a socially active family background. My father is
a journalist and all my brothers and sisters have postgraduate
degrees in medicine. I am married to a surgeon.
My father has been member of parliament for two terms but I had
no active role in politics until I got elected. I was, however,
active in social activities. I was drawn into politics by the
passing of the 74th Constitutional amendment to the constitution
of India whereby 1/3 of seats in local governments were reserved
for women. I then contested and won the election becoming the
first woman mayor of the City of Guntur.
A Woman's Perspective
My being a woman has not presented any difficulties when dealing
with the public or with other officials and I do not think I am
facing any discrimination. There is, however, a slight strain
in inter-personal relationships in my contacts with fellow political
leaders especially men leaders.
Women have a strong representation in our local urban government.
In addition to my position as mayor, there are 18 women representatives
in the urban corporation; women are chairpersons in five out of
the nine municipalities which compose our District and, in accordance
with the 74th Constitutional amendment one-third of the councillors
in each municipality are women.
Breaking The Barriers
I believe Indian tradition is one of the main factors preventing
many women from entering public life. Moreover, the high level
of illiteracy among women (about 52 per cent) is a great obstacle
for their involvement in politics. Other factors that restrict
their active participation are corruption and criminalisation
The main policy we have implemented aimed at increasing the participation
of women in government was a mass literacy programme started one
and a half years ago. Over that period, more than 22,000 women
in the 15-35 age group have gone through the programme. Furthermore,
we also have a loan system for needy women to obtain gainful employment.
I believe women leaders have the responsibility of promoting
female participation in politics. Our women parliamentarians and
women leaders are fighting for passing a bill in Parliament to
reserve for women one-third of seats in Parliament and federal
Government (State Government). Personally, I have been involved
on the literacy programme mentioned above, as well as, in other
programmes to improve the status of women such as the provision
of low-cost sanitation in urban slums dwellings.
The perception of women in politics has changed for the better,
at least in India. After seeing women in local governments for
the last three years, now people are confident that women are
good administrators. They are sincere and committed to discharge
their duties and do not encourage criminalisation of the political
I think my best accomplishment in office so far has been getting
the participation of the public and private sectors in the improving
the quality of life of the citizens by providing basic infrastructure
and I hope to continue working towards making our city people