Padma is the only police officer from Telangana this year to partake in a UN mission (Image sourced from Padma Palle)
When it comes to breaking glass ceilings, Padma Palle, a police officer from Telangana, has entered her name in the growing list of women who are no longer confined in the four walls of their house. Padma, 37, is now also a part of the present batch of officers who are in the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Republic of South Sudan.
The mother of two is the only police officer from Telangana this year to partake in a UN mission and only the second woman police officer to be part of a UN mission since the state was formed in 2014.
"I always had an achiever's mentality. Since childhood, I used to set a goal for myself and chase it. I thought UN Peace-keeping mission in Sudan will be great exposure," she told indianexpress.com from Juba in South Sudan where she is currently undergoing a 15-day training.
Only months ago, Padma was giving orientation lessons to newly joined sub-inspectors of police
Only months ago, Padma was giving orientation lessons to newly joined sub-inspectors of police on station house management, overseeing bandobast arrangements in her jurisdiction during a month-long road transport corporation bus strike in the state, talking to children, women and senior citizens as part of community policing. In a field dominated by men, Padma's journey is one against all odds.
Inspector Padma hails from an agrarian family in Telangana's Siddipet district. She has an MSc in Psychology from Kakatiya University, and joined the Police force in 2004. After a year's training, she was the sub-inspector in Hyderabad's Banjara Hills police station in 2005.
Padma (extreme right) is now also a part of the present batch of officers who are in the United Nations peacekeeping mission
Padma, the wife of a police inspector and mother to two boys, acknowledges her family's unwavering support. "Without the cooperation of my boys (11 years and 6 years), this would not have been possible. When they need me, I am going to be away for a year. I am the first person in my family to travel so far. My family is very proud as well as worried. It is kind of mixed feelings, I think " she said.
Even as it appears to be a life-long dream, Padma says the peace-making mission in South Sudan is an extension of what she has been doing in Telangana police. "This mission is based on our experiences so far. The aspects like how we are with the public, the organization, its administration, and community policing, etc. My experience with the Telangana police and the initiatives have helped me a lot in understanding," she said. Padma worked as an additional inspector in Marredpally police station for the last 16 months before taking up the assignment on February 24, 2020.
In South Sudan, she is part of an 11-member contingent from India which includes five women and six men officers drawn from different agencies in India. She said she was aware of the United Nations Selection Assistance and Assessment Team (SAAT) exam which is conducted every two years.
Earlier, Padma had been talking to children, women and senior citizens as part of community policing
Explaining the process of selection in a UN Mission, she said: "From the State, three men and three women officers are sent to national selection after evaluation in their interview, firing tests, report writing, etc. In Delhi, based on professional service and experience, English language proficiency, report writing, interview, and driving test, the UN team will select 160 persons for two years and of the 12 are selected for South Sudan."
The Republic of South Sudan has been entangled in a civil war since 2013, two years after winning long-fought independence from Sudan. A new unity government has taken charge of its administration and is expected to end a six-year-long string of violence.
Even as it appears to be a life-long dream, Padma says the peace-making mission in South Sudan is an extension of what she has been doing in Telangana police
Talking about the task at hand, she said, "We know Sudan has faced insurgency, law and order issues, etc. We will be the international police here with UN police practices. In administration, investigation, and interrogations, community policing, human resource management and operations, etc, we will coordinate with the local police."
Asked about her message to young girls on the occasion of international women's day, she said "It's the same(as what I believe in). Push forward from your comfort zones. Be bold and chase your dreams."