Ajinder Jain, who taught political science at RBS College in Agra for 35 years before retiring nearly two decades back, did not initially want her daughter to get into her shoes. “Since both my husband and I were professors, I wanted my daughter — the brighter among our two children — to be a civil servant,” says Ajinder, now 78. Vinny had even qualified the three-layer civil services examination — touted as one of the toughest tests in the world — twice. But every time, she was only offered allied services and not the Indian Administrative Service she aspired for.
She then chose a career that came her way easily — teaching in St John’s College in her hometown in Agra, an institute now 170 years old.Ajinder does not regret it now, though. “I now think she did a great thing by deciding to teach in a college rather than joining the bureaucracy,” says Ajinder, who recalls having to struggle hard as a woman teacher to deliver lectures in classes full of boys.For Vinny, who feels the atmosphere in colleges has changed for worse over the years, there is one silver lining.
“I am happy to have the opportunity to constantly learn and evolve in this profession as that’s something few occupations offer,” says 52-year old Vinny. The lives of the mother and daughter are intertwined in ways where the role reversal has already happened. Vinny who never married stays with her mother and takes care of her. “There was a time when I started working when she would drop me at college and pick me up. She was a major force in every decision — big or small — I took,” she says.
Ajinder says it’s the other way round now. “Now I let her decide everything — including my finances and I feel blessed she is my daughter.” Both mother and daughter feel financial independence is the key to women empowerment.