As a business journalist starting out nearly 40 years ago, it was a largely male-dominated world. Whether it was a conference or a press meet, I was invariably the only woman reporter. Luckily, I was often sent to cover non-economic events which is where I managed to meet some other women colleagues. And in my own office too, the Times group, there were a few including veteran journalist Usha Rai. But for many years, I was the sole woman at most business-related news events. This changed dramatically after liberalization of the economy when large numbers of women entered the field of business reporting and writing. And now of course, women have virtually taken over the business television channels.
It was in this backdrop that becoming a founding member of the Indian Women’s Press Corps became significant in my life. It became a gateway for me to develop many friendships and relationships with my women colleagues which have now lasted over decades. One of the great plus points of being in IWPC is also that one makes friends literally every day. As a result, I now have women friends spanning all ages. From those who are my peers in the profession, to those who are young enough to be my daughters and are frantically busy, much as I was at their age.
Perhaps one of the most unique activities of IWPC are the foreign tours where a group of members are able to go abroad and combine professional work as well as some amount of tourism. I was fortunate to go on two of these tours, one to China and the other to Egypt. The first was a large group of nearly 20 women and the trip was chaotic simply because its difficult to organize such a big group..
Many of those on the trip were already my friends but many others were completely unknown to me. I returned from that trip having developed several lifelong friendships which are cherished till this day.
As for the Egypt trip, it was a much smaller group of only seven. But that had a special charm because we spent a lot of time together and were able to get to know each another much better than ever before. For several years afterwards, we used to get together regularly to relive the fun times of the trip. And again these have become long term relationships.
Another surprisingly bonding event is the club’s annual elections. Campaigning, for me, becomes an occasion to reconnect with old friends. And election day is like a festival with everyone coming to cast their vote but also catching up with each other. Hopefully it should continue to be an event that promotes camaraderie among the sisterhood of women journalists.
As a founder member, I look forward to IWPC going from strength to strength in future as younger and newer members take up the reins of this institution.