FROM AN ADOLESCENT BRIDE TO AN IPS OFFICER

Married at 14 and mother of two at 18, N Ambika, not even a matriculate then, achieves her cherished dream of becoming an IPS officer with an awe-inspiring story, thanks to a supportive husband.

A woman is a full 360 degrees circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform. Nobody would have given even an outside chance to N Ambika – a victim of child marriage – to metamorphose into a Woman of Real Substance as she broke glass ceilings and stereotypes to become an IPS officer through sheer grit and determination. Her saga accentuates that she was unstoppable not because she did not have failures and setbacks but because she persevered despite them.

Ambika’s story is stuff folklores are made of. Married to a police constable in Dindigul, Tamil Nadu, the adolescent 14-year-old became a mother of two daughters Aigan and Niharika at 18 when these days marriage is not even on the radar of modern-day girls. Most women given this situation lead the regulation life of a home-maker, accepting the verdict destiny throws at them. Ambika did not sulk or accept it as her fait accompli. Far from blaming the system or social milieu, she decided to take it head on, signaling that she wanted to be the change that she wanted to see.

Fortune always favors the brave. The opportunity presented itself when one day her constable husband left home for a parade where the IGP and the DGP were special dignitaries. Ambika watched awe-struck by the honor and dignity accorded to the two top men in uniform. The seeds of her efforts had been sown.

Back home, when the curious and excited wife was told by her husband that the two were top ranking officers of the police department, she was immediately overtaken by the desire to be in the same league. A dreamy-eyed Ambika had already started imagining herself in that exalted position. The journey was, however, not simple and fraught with several ifs and buts. She had two huge advantages on her side: Her spirit to slug it out and the unstinted support of her husband.

Ambika had to virtually start from the scratch. Having entered into a wed-lock at a tender age, she had not be able to complete even her SSLC (matriculation). Her supportive husband advised her to complete her SSLC as an external candidate, followed by Pre-University and Degree education. He even went the extra mile to get her an accommodation to stay in Chennai where she was to pursue her IPS coaching. The journey began with a paying guest accommodation.

Success did not come to her overnight or in the first attempt. Despite her best efforts, she met with three consecutive failures in her attempt to clear the IPS. Her husband comforted her but he asked her to come back. She was, however, made of sterner stuff and was prepared to have another crack at the coveted position. She cajoled her husband to give her another chance, failing which she would find a career in teaching.

True to the dictum that failures are the pillars of success, the fourth attempt brought not just success but also glided her through the tough interview. The dream and hard work had paid dividends. 2008 was a watershed year for her. She was sincere, dedicated and committed to the path that she had herself chosen. Her batch-mates saw her focus and grit during her grueling training.

As the Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), North 4 division in Mumbai, her struggle is a profile in courage and inspiration to many others – especially women who reconcile to the rigors of home and hearth. Instead of blaming her parents, society and its customs that resulted in her child marriage, she chose to shed the beaten path and became the change that she wanted to see. She was well supported by her husband who made sacrifices himself to support her to chase her dreams.

Ambika’s story should be a beacon light to many women who compromise and give up on their dreams for familial and societal compulsions. If only they take cue, there would be many more Ambikas that this country could do with.