WARANGAL: Vankudoth Bharathi, the first ever junior linewoman to work in the Telangana Southern Power Distribution Corporation Limited (TSSPDCL), has opened doors for other women who have their hearts set on a profession that appears to be a ‘no woman’s land’. A powerhouse of courage and determination, Bharathi, who is a mother of two, had to fight several odds before knocking on the doors of the Telangana High Court and fulfilling her dream of becoming a linewoman.
Thirty-two-year-old Bharathi is a native of Bhajana thanda in Mahabubabad district. Belonging to the Lambada community, she graduated from Kakatiya University (KU) in 2012. After marriage, she took an ITI electrician course in 2016, and began preparing for competitive exams to get a government job.
When the TSSPDCL released a notification calling for junior lineman applicants in 2019, Bharathi decided to give it a shot. “My husband works for a private company, and we needed more money to survive. When the TSSPDCL issued the notification, I wanted to apply for it. My husband was very supportive,” said Bharathi.
The system, however, was against her. There was no column for female applicants in the online application form, and therefore, she couldn’t apply for the lineman exam. Linemen are generally engaged in outdoor electrical installation and maintenance jobs, which require them to climb up 18-ft electricity poles. A woman doing such a thing is often considered ludicrous by a patriarchal society.
After being prevented from taking part in the lineman exam, eight women from the State, including Bharathi, moved the High Court, stating that there was no reservation for women in the TSSPDCL. Later, the court ruled in their favour, and they were permitted to apply for the job offline.
These eight women wrote the exam alongside men. Bharathi and another woman cleared it. However, they were never called for a pole test. When they realised they were systemically ignored by the TSSPDCL, they approached the court again. “The High Court then directed the TSSPDCL to conduct a pole test. We climbed up and down the pole in less than a minute and qualified for the linewoman post,” said Bharathi.
She added, “During the lockdown, I had returned to my village and helped my family with agricultural works. I secretly began practising climbing poles of eight metres. I knew that if people got to know about it, they would laugh at me.”Her passing the exam and subsequent pole test came as a shock to her family, but they were proud of her nonetheless. “I am now waiting for my appointment orders,” said Bharathi.
TSSPDCL had no column for female applicants for the lineman post in their online application form