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Victim of gender discrimination  

Editor, 

Rina Mitra an IPS officer had a brilliant academic career. She stood first in Pre-University in Arts stream of Calcutta UniversityShe is a post-Graduate from the University of Calcutta and M.Phil from the University of Madras. She is an alumnus of the National Defence College.  As a sports person she had participated and represented the State of Bihar in the National Level Sports & Athletics meet bringing laurels to herself and the state. .As an IPS officer of Madhya Pradesh cadre (1983-batch) Rina Mitra (nee Mukherjee) has served in various key positions for both the Union Government  and the Government of Madhya Pradesh (Police).

 Mitra joined the Ministry of Home Affairs as Special Secretary (Internal Security) on March 1, 2017 and had handled successfully a key position within the Government dealing with internal security till her last working day.  In her 35 years of dedicated service to the nation during her career in the Indian Police Service, she has, in various capacities, served in Madhya Pradesh as District Superintendent of Police of three districts, DIG & IG CID, Inspector General (Legal/Personnel), Special. DGP(Training) and Spl. DGP, PHQ. In Government of India, she has served in CBI, Railway Board, Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change (WCCB), IG BPR&D and Director NICFS. She has been awarded with 50th Independence Anniversary Medal in 1997, Police Medal for Meritorious Service in 1999 and President’s Police Medal for Distinguished Service in 2008.

Rina Mitra, the senior-most IPS officer who met all the criteria for the CBI Director’s post, did not make the grade when the selection committee meeting was deferred to the day just after her retirement. As the first woman IPS officer from West Bengal while Rina gradually rose up through various positions she had to relentlessly assert herself   to balance   professional and personal fronts and proved herself a capable and worthy officer.

She had a firm belief that she would overcome life’s trials and tribulations as a woman, a wife and an officer. Close to her retirement, scaling the ‘glass ceiling’ was her biggest challenge and those last few months had been truly unsettling. With no wish to misappropriate this word from feminist discourse, in her service, she had learnt the hard way that there does exist a “glass ceiling” for honesty and uprightness that is not short of an insurmountable challenge.

In fact Rina qualified on all parameters to be considered for selection to head the premier investigating body of the country, the CBI. Going by convention Rina was indeed the senior-most officer fulfilling all the four essential criteria, including experience in CBI and a clean track record. Unfortunately an easily avoidable delay of just one day in the selection process saw her out of the race and no longer in contention. She was stunned by the last glass ceiling she encountered in her professional career. As the SP of a district she had indomitable courage and stoic determination in dealing with the vagaries of local politics, leading investigations against influential people from well-connected families. Indeed Rina had guts and every shred of courage to stand for what is right even in the face of personal damage without making compromises with her convictions.

Despite her academic brilliance,  and adequate qualifications, outstanding performance records and in her professional career, it is very unfortunate and shameful that  even today women need to additionally deal with the gender bias that exists in every profession that is dominated by men.

Deliberate deprivation of Rina’s deserved ascendance to the zenith of her career by the ruling dispensation at the Centre is a crass violation of fundamental rights as enshrined in the Constitution of India under Articles 14, 15 &16. Can this unethical act be called “emancipation of women or women’s empowerment?’ Certainly not and Rina  Mitra is a victim of a male-dominated service. But she is not deterred. Mitra is convinced that the greater the number of honest people in this world, the more honesty will be appreciated and rewarded. Just as love begets love, honesty too begets honesty. But how long must the honest struggle in order to discharge their duties?

Yours etc.,

Samares Bandyopadhyay,

Advocate, Kolkata High Court

 

Of rail accidents

Editor,

Are we supposed to travel by train ignoring fractures in rail – tracks? A few days ago, at least 6 people died and 24 injured when nine coaches of Delhi – bound Seemanchal Express derailed in Bihar’s Vaishali. Railways have said that a fracture in rail-tracks caused the derailment. On many occasions, track fractures are the cause of derailment massacres and old ICF coaches add insult to injury. The Kakodar Committee on Rail Safety as well as the Sam Pitroda Committee on Modernization of Indian Railways have recommended complete migration from ICF to LHB coaches as the latter can ensure enhanced passenger safety in case of derailment. Presently, LHB coaches are restricted only to Shatabdi, Rajdhani, Duronto premium trains. But it needs to be extended to all other trains immediately to ensure safety of the passengers.

The irony is that while the Ahmedabad – Mumbai, bullet train project will cost Rs. one lakh crore; financial constraints hinder track renewal, a total replacement of coaches from ICF to LHB, modernisation of signalling systems and building flyovers over all important railway crossings. Then, why on earth must we give priority to bullet trains? Indian Railways cannot afford to undertake such a costly project while compromising on safety standards.

When we have a speedier alternative in air transport, there is no reason why Indian Railways must compete with airways. Railways cannot make their bullet ride a cheaper option than air travel. Bullet train is indeed a glaring example of misplaced priority. Without spending more money on it, the government needs to make existing train journeys more punctual and safe. Moreover, there is an urgent need to expand and modernise railways and also to fill the vacancies on war footing not only to give more jobs to Indian youths but also to improve the safety standards. It will be dangerous if train drivers are made to do double duty as a result of personnel shortage. It will be equally dangerous if there is a lack of man power in the field of track inspections and maintenance.

Yours etc.,

Sujit De,

Via email

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