Building the leaders of tomorrow
Women are shaping tomorrow and are today at the forefront in holding positions of leadership. They are pursuing everything they aspire to and are seizing every opportunity that comes before them. One of the fields in which women have always been highly valued is Education – they have always excelled phenomenally as visionary teachers. Helen Montessori is a prime example. “Nowadays, many more educational leaders are coming up, these days people strongly believe that educational leaders can bring a change to the society,” shares Jonnalagadda Padmavathy, a 20th century addition to this field of visionaries in education and Chairperson, Srinivasa Ramanujan Institute of Technology.
Born in Nellore, Jonnalagadda Padmavathy was a quiet child. Away from the hustle and bustle, she liked living in her own little world of creations from her own mind. As she grew up, all she wanted was a simple, peaceful life, with a 9-5 job, and family time – no fancies and no frills whatsoever. The one passion she had was her education and knowledge as an IT engineer from which she wanted to carve out a career.
But little did she know that destiny had other plans. Being the visionary she is, she could not but help enter politics to alleviate the problems of the public, especially the downtrodden and the helpless, including women and children. This was a surprising decision by someone who had never even volunteered to be a class leader.
Through the course of this long, eventful and fruitful journey she realised that education, especially in the professional field of engineering, will bring many people out of neediness and distress. It is the only way to raise the platform for the masses. And so came into being one of her two over-riding missions in life – starting an engineering college to provide quality education to youngsters so that they can have fulfilling careers and lives. Her other self-ordained task in life is to ease the burden on farmers by helping them get a fair price for their produce. Jonnalagadda Padmavathy intends to do this by assisting the students of her college in building an app that can facilitate direct buying and selling between farmers and customers.
Being destiny’s child, she has gone wherever fate has taken her and performed her duties towards her fellow man with heart, mind, and soul. Every time she has suffered a loss she has risen like a phoenix and faced everything front on. Jonnalagadda Padmavathy never backs off when and opportunity to help humanity arrives. She’s right there with everyone making every individual’s life a success.
A politician, an academician, a creator and an influencer, Jonnalagadda Padmavathy dons many hats effortlessly. As we’ve mentioned earlier, when she is not fighting for the rights of farmers of her constituency, she is helping students of her college to design a one-of-its-kind app that can help farmers and customers alike.
Another example of her resourcefulness is her contribution to the medical fraternity during the pandemic. In this global crisis, Padmavathy was quick to think out-of-the-box and come up with a creative solution that could help doctors and medical staff – the frontline warriors who were working tirelessly to fight COVID-19. That too in suffocating PPEs. She designed and built a prototype of an Atmospheric Movable Cabin (AMC), a project by SRIT, which she headed. The AMC provides a 100 % safe environment to doctors and paramedical staff for discharging their duties.
The temperature-controlled mobile cabins are equipped with self-sanitizing cubicles, transparent with an inbuilt flexible hand that can offer 100% protection to doctors and paramedics from contracting not just COVID-19, but any communicable disease. Designed to deal with challenges in hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic, to aid doctors and nurses move around in the wards with both the doctors and the patients fully visible to one another, this one-of-its-kind cabin guarantees comfort. Those using it can sit inside for long hours working or even to have a meal, and all these without having to waste a number of disposable PPEs. Weighing around 100 kg, the AMC is portable and foldable, making it easy to carry around.
More than just a teacher and an educationist, Jonnalagadda Padmavathy is a facilitator – of new ideas and technologies. She pushes, cajoles, empowers and trusts her team to come up with innovations. She herself is full of new-age thinking and visions to inspire her team and students with ideas, and implements them. In her way of life, the question, ‘Why?’ is replaced with ‘Why not?’
“During the second wave of COVID-19, my students were keen to research how two to three people can use oxygen from one cylinder at the same time. Constantly, working towards technology I also encouraged my students to work on local power production”, shares Smt. Padmavathy.
Giving Wings to Her Dreams (Soaring high)
Mahatma Gandhi once said, ‘Be the change you want to see in the world.” And Padmavathy is a prime example. Totally motivated and a self-starter, she has been spearheading the changes she wants to see over time. As a lady in a position of authority, she is on a drive to eradicate the deep-rooted gender-bias and non-empowerment of women in the country. Education, she believes, is one field that has welcomed women. And so, Smt. Padmavathy believes that this sector may be the stepping stone to changing our society.
She also believes that while educational institutions are often gender-neutral, all students need to be prepared to face the challenges of erstwhile male-dominated spaces. Women have to be bold in leading workforces and the men need to become more sensitive towards accepting women as equals in the workforce. “Women empowerment is a gradual process in India. Even in today’s day and age, the glass ceiling exists. Women have to be better and harder working than men to be considered equals and this, need much of our support,” shares Smt. Padmavathy.
Her current belief system, she feels, comes from her parents who raised her in a gender-neutral environment. She is thankful to them for instilling in her the values of justice, resilience and discipline right from the beginning. As the means to an end, she believes in instilling the same in her students by incorporating gender inclusiveness with sensitivity and subtlety. Padmavathy Jonnalagadda, MLA, Singanamala constituency, is a politician par excellence. However, she believes she is an academician first. To her way of thinking she is a mentor of young minds, a guide to new ways of thinking and a protector of fresh ideas. She has always, even since childhood, been curious about how things work with automobiles and transport being of special interest. Beyond this she is always looking for solutions to any scientific problems. It was rather rare during those times to find a little girl who had such a keen interest in technology. It was her father, a civil engineer himself, who recognized Padmavathy’s inherent talent, and would bring her books that helped her gain more knowledge about the subject.
This had an obvious fall out. Smt. Padmavathy has done her B.tech in Mechanical Engineering and M.tech in Computer Engineering. Currently, she is pursuing a Ph.D in Computer Science. She declares, “I always share new advances in technology with students. I try to motivate them to learn so that they are more and more aware about it”. She believes reskilling is essential to develop the capability and capacity to manage new job profiles, enter new sectors and retain jobs. The country and, indeed, the world, is in the midst of a transformation. Technology and human behaviour, as well as consumer expectations, have created massive shifts.
As we mentioned earlier, Padmavathy knows no limits. Beyond her political portfolio, her mind is constantly churning – generating ideas, which she then goes out of her way in implementing so that she can contribute to the betterment of lives. Apart from her role as an MLA, Padmavathy is working with the government on creating new sources to generate the economy as well as the society’s adoption of the digital space. Since most companies have allowed their employees to work from home post the pandemic, Padmavathy is on a mission to provide better internet facilities to people, whether at home, in public spaces or in Offices. Her belief is, that if people can pay a little extra, we should be able to give them a better place to work than home or office. If that is what they want.
As an academician, at SRIT, she noticed the youth using digital libraries more and benefiting from it. Taking a cue, she put forth the idea for a digital library before the Chief Minister. The rest, like they say, is history as the digital libraries are being set up across the state. It is cost effective, which, in the near future, can also be turned into a source of revenue, and is set to bring great changes. There are many more projects that Padmavathy is geared to undertake, because just as she dreamt of upgrading the transportation system when she was only a little girl, Padmavathy Jonnalagada still dreams of bringing in a lot more changes, as an academician as well as a politician. She believes she has miles to go, and like always, she is not ready to rest yet.