Working Lives India

WATCH: Dr Daggubati Purandeswari is an MP striving to bring education to all (Pic: Harsha Vadlamani)

Dr Daggubati Purandeswari entered politics unexpectedly, when there was a vacant seat and she was nominated by her husband and his political colleagues. Before confirming her candidature, she and her husband made sure they had cleared it with their children.

Dr Purandeswari hails from a political family. Her father, N T Rama Rao, was a famous Telugu actor who entered politics. She entered politics after he died, but thinks "he would have been proud of me".

Balancing work and family life is a juggling act. She is a national education minister, and often has to call on her bosses for support if she needs to leave Delhi for her home city, a thousand miles away.

Being the minister for human resource development (HRD) is a challenge. "We have to get every child into school," she says, and making sure those in the country's far-flung regions or living in its slums are included, is a massive task.

Her pet project is vocational education. Almost two thirds of India's population are under 35, and not all are suited to higher education. Getting them equipped with the right skills for the new world of work is her top priority.

Politicians in India are not as well paid as those in the West, but money is not the motivating factor in her decision to enter the political arena. She enjoys reaching out to people, and finds rewards in other ways.

Women, she says, do not need a family background to enter politics. For every Indira Gandhi, there are other examples of those who made it without a political lineage. But having money certainly helps in electioneering. In India, politicians have to fund election campaigns, and that can be expensive.

When she entered politics in 2004, she was a wife and mother. Since then, she has become a grandmother. She still finds time for her expanding family, and loves spending time with her grand-daughter.

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