Santosh Pahwa

Juggling for right balance between Family Fulfilment, Career Cruising and Social Service

She was born into a lower middle class family in a remote village in Haryana in the 1950s. Due to gender discrimination, her birth turned out to be an event that was not celebrated.

Me, Shaily and my brother Saurabh have deep sense of appreciation for this step by iconic figure like Chanda Kochhar for honouring inspirational women. We want to nominate our mother Mrs. Santosh Pahwa who did full justice to family responsibilities while pursuing career advancement, taking care of parents in law in final years, preparing regularly healthy home cooked meals for the whole family, giving sound education and values to us while also working on social causes like promoting girl education in underprivileged families. While most Indian women have to juggle lot of roles, our mother did this despite a major deformity in her vital vertebra bone after an accident in her 20s.

She was born into a lower middle class family in a remote village in Haryana in the 1950s. Due to gender discrimination, her birth turned out to be an event that was not celebrated. She was a bright student studying in government school. She used to even help headmistress's daughter and other classmates in studies. She got married to dad's close friend's son at 20 years of age when she still pursuing post-graduation through distance learning. After a year, she was blessed with a baby girl. The evil claws of gender discrimination resurfaced, and this time too, a daughter’s birth was not considered an occasion worth a celebration. That made her determined to prove herself to be able to fight gender discrimination. Resources were meagre but grit and resolve were strong like a rock. Two years later ill luck knocked at the door. She met with a serious accident that fractured her vertebra and pelvis and that bone became deformed for life. Being bed ridden for a long time also didn't deter or dampen her spirits.

She started conducting tuition classes in single rented room accommodation, and soon was hired by a middle school in 1977. Her start was humble but the vision to break gender bias was strong. Her adept handling of problematic students, innovative teaching and dedication paved the way for climbing the ladder. Her principal saw a glimpse of spark in her and elevated her to vice-principal's post. Her vision and dream started taking shape.

She encouraged underprivileged girl students to study and extended all possible help too. At the ripe age of 40 years, another challenge cropped up… to get a B.Ed degree. Undeterred by responsibilities of school, household and two teenage children, she attained the requisite degree that accounted for her elevation to principal's post. She also authored two series of mathematics books which were well received and succeeded in gaining entry into many renowned schools across India.

She encouraged many parents to educate girl children by giving concession and even free book sets. She saved some girls from clutches of child marriage by undertaking responsibility to educate them; much to displeasure of parents and stiff opposition from so called well-wishers of society. As an entrepreneur, she employees only females; especially liberated or single mothers struggling to raise their kids, while upholding their dignity.

Her innumerable students have scaled dizzy heights in their careers, both in India and abroad. They keep her in loop about their achievements in respective careers with gratitude to her even after decades of passing out. Both, her son and daughter have taken a cue from their mother's illustrious career and are successful engineers holding lucrative positions. Both kids were raised by her with strong family and philanthropic values. Her daughter regularly donates blood and has signed up for organ donation.

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