It was not an ordinary decision for Dr Megha N Shenoy to join defence when she had very comfortable opportunities to move on with her medical carrier. But she was determined to challenge an otherwise hostile society that discourages career-oriented woman - to pursue her ambitions, in her case, indeed with the support of her family.
Dr Megha N Shenoy is the daughter of E D Narasimha Shenoy and Gomathi N Shenoy from Varapuzha in Kerala, now settled in Bangalore. Dr Megha finished her MBBS from Mandya Institute of Medical Sciences, Karnataka in 2018.
While working at a Primary Health Centre as part of rural service in Karnataka, she appeared for the MOSB interview for the paramilitary. Now, Dr Megha N Shenoy is a permanently commissioned Medical Officer with the Border Security Officer. Her rank as an Assistant Commandant is equivalent to ACP, which is a Grade ‘A’ Gazetted Officer.
What did prompt you to take up a job in BSF? Was it your childhood ambition to join the force?
I was a part of the National Cadet Corps when I was in school. I always had that I want to serve my country thought process. I was quite disappointed in 11th, 12th and MBBS that my institutions had no NCC.
So yes, I guess you can call it a childhood dream.
Being a woman, how challenging was your journey to your present status? And how you overcome?
To be very honest, I have noticed that Indian society isn't very supportive of a career-oriented woman. I mean, of course, the family is important (and there is nothing wrong in being a family woman). But it should not be at the cost of the woman's ambition and individuality alone. Many people have actually told me "How do you intend to settle down with a career in the defence and the constant moving around which comes with it?" and "It is ok for a man, but being a woman you should think twice".
This kind of thought process, even in the 21st century, when women are conquering every possible arena- is the major challenge I found.
I guess the only reason I could overcome it is with the support of my parents, who always believed in us being able to stand up for ourselves. They have never discouraged us from our interests and have never forced their decisions on us, be it in our education or career. The backed and guided us to make choices for ourselves. My sister has also been a role model in being determined in what I want to do. And of course, a special mention needs to be made for WKC, Mangalore, who helped shape me and my personality.
It is a COVID period, being a doctor what you feel how important you are in this crisis period, particularly in the force?
Well, in the present situation, the role of a doctor undoubtedly paramount. As part of the BSF, I have got this opportunity to work in the largest COVID facility in India- the 10,000 bedded Sardar Patel COVID Care Centre in New Delhi. But I would also want to remind everyone that each person would be doing the greatest service to themselves and people around them by taking all the necessary precautions and following all the guidelines diligently.
Let's win this war against COVID.
Jobs in BSF are tough as in force, what you feel yourself as an Assistant Commandant Medical Officer?
I feel it may be a little too soon to comment about this. However, it has been a wonderful start with many new experiences. Life in the forces is totally different from civil life. It is nothing like what is portrayed in the movies. The discipline, the self-growth and improvement, the feeling of belonging and oneness within the organisation is overwhelming. It is a wonderful feeling and touchwood it remains so.
What is your set goal, and how you are preparing yourself to achieve it?
I believe in taking it one step at a time. I feel it is always better to make short term goals for yourself than to think about things 20years down the lane. As of now, my goal is to become a capable officer without losing my professional touch as a doctor. I have also planned to take up a couple of short term courses which can help me in the process.
As a young officer, what message you have for young ambitious girls?
Girls! Believe in yourself! Nothing is impossible. Stand up for yourself and work for your dreams. No dream is too small and no dream is too big to achieve. Be confident and remember knowledge is power.