From the balance-sheet of humanity, to the Profit & Loss account of emotions, I am all in your good books. I am a Chartered Accountant.
This versatile quote aptly describes the spirit in a woman- Rima Diddee Dhawan. Born in the temple city, she spent her childhood and youth in its lanes and by-lanes only to share a life-long affinity with the place that stays an inspiration for her till today.
A fitness freak and sports aficionado, Rima grew up playing her favorite games like Cricket, Badminton, and Table-tennis. This would give sleepless night to her mother, who seriously pondered over a suitable groom for her daughter as soon as she finishes her schooling. As she excelled in Cricket and Badminton, she found her place in both the teams of Odisha. However, dissuaded by her parents, who strictly forbade her not to travel for playing, literally she stopped half-way on her journey for a successful sports career.
In the school-passing examination, Rima’s marks were not enough to qualify her for a seat in either Science or Arts stream; instead, she had only the last option for her admission in Commerce. “It was literally a culture shock for me as we were a few girls in the class against a huge presence of 148 boys. In those days, studying Commerce was usually not a career option for the girls. But I would say, that was a turning-point in my life. Before this, I had hardly thought about embarking on a professional career. As the classes advanced, it brought the realization that every subject taught in the course curriculum could lead to a successful career either in the corporate world or as a private practitioner”- She speaks overenthusiastically to express the rationale behind her decision to go for study of Commerce.
“As a subject, Accountancy grabbed my attention as it was a systematic study that invariably followed a structure. Like sports, this subject demands discipline, while you delve deep in to it. You need to keep in your mind that everything is related. Anything you put in Trading and Profit and loss account, it would surely reflect in the Balance Sheet. So you need sharper analysis and stay a stickler of norms. Once you misplace a single entry, the result would become disastrous”, she added.
Rima came out with flying colors in her graduation examination with Accountancy as Honors. Like her study of Commerce in B.J.B. College, she was destined for a career in a profession, where majority in the students were only males. She enrolled in a firm for her articleship in Meerut, where she had to work with 28 male staff and only other female was the receptionist. “Although it was clearly embarrassing to rub shoulders with so many men in a profession with certain disadvantages, the only advantage was I was never asked to work late in the evening. Like every time, my father stayed my strongest inspiration. In a sense, he stayed at the beck and call of my every decision. He lectured and guided me and I am here today because of his unconditional support and love”-she speaks reminiscing her days of struggle to come successful in an over competitive profession.
Rima cleared all her papers of Inter CA in the first go and it was in the second year, she found her wedding-bell ringing. As she tied the knot in the year 1991, she came back to Bhubaneswar to complete the remaining part of the course. As a year, 1995 had brought two unique gifts in its folds; first she was gifted with a male child and secondly, the year marked the beginning of her practice as a Chartered Accountant.
“History repeats itself. Unknowingly, I was stepping inside a profession, which was dominated by males. Survival was not easy. But true power of a woman lies in standing against the tides or against the traditional ideas of safety, protection, and ideas about living in the cocoon of happiness in the comforts of family-life. In those days, there was no lady Chartered Accountant doing practice at Bhubaneswar. To add to it, I was unsure how the business community would accept. But as a Sports woman, I had the instinct to face challenge. Again, I had to spare time as my son was growing. It was tough for me to divide time between family responsibility and profession. As my son kept on growing, I was devoting more time in my profession”, she said.
As an established practitioner in her profession, Rima agrees to the fact that no one could replace experience with enthusiasm. As she kept on maturing in her profession, she gained more insight about it.
“Gender equality is the first and foremost thing that I would wish on the occasion of Women’s day. As women are donning new roles, they need freedom. Take for instance women have been inducted to work as fighter pilots. Unless, they get freedom from the fetters of restrictions, they cannot be successful”- She speaks, feeling the pangs of pain in her heart that she gets while hearing the cases of killing of girl child, rape and abuse of women in the society.
“True empowerment of women would take place, when they take up leading roles in entrepreneurship. Educating women helps a lot, while doing away with the caste system would help in bringing gender equality. My message for them is to “wake up” or “stand up”. Men need not suppress the talent in their female children as more and more number of women keep on excelling in different types of studies and professions. There is hardly any doubt that feminism is under transformation”.
Rima has spent a five year term as a task force member of Department of Public Enterprises besides being an independent director in a listed company. Various public sector units feature in her clientele as her Chartered firm has stayed an auditor for the Department of Income-tax. “I would like to get remembered as a good and hard-working woman. I would say till my last breath that when you dare, you surely win”, she said.