Harshini Kanhekar, 37, is India’s first firewoman. She has literally and figuratively broken through walls and ceilings while paving the way for various policy changes in the field of fire service. Not too long ago, this braveheart was struggling with fears of a mediocre life, as a young teen studying in an all-girls’ college in Nagpur.
After completing her pre-university in Lady Amritbai Daga (LAD) College, Nagpur, she enrolled for a Bachelor of Science degree at the same college. But this time, she started with a completely fresh perspective. Harshini started actively taking part in all competitions and, started winning them too. This made her popular among the students and staff of the college. She had found her mojo again! Around the same time, she joined the National Cadet Corps (NCC). The NCC helped her discover an untapped adventurous streak, and she decided to apply for the armed forces. After completing her graduation, Harshini applied to quite a few colleges and courses but ended up pursuing an MBA. Her sights, however, were still on joining the armed forces, and she had simultaneously started preparing for the exams.
Before joining ONGC in 2006, Harshini has helped douse several big fires in Delhi, Kolkata, and Mumbai. Her longest operation was in Delhi when a tin factory caught fire, and she along with others, had to fire fight for six hours at a stretch. As a part of her service, she has also rescued civilians during floods, building collapses, wildlife attacks, and river swelling. After joining ONGC, she was posted at the company’s Mehsana station, where she was in-charge of one of the three fire stations. Owing to her bravery, Harshini was also granted access to offshore rigs recently and is currently the deputy manager, Fire Services.
Harshini’s success story is a great example for everybody who is looking to do what no one ever has. She has shown us what courage and hard work, when combined together, can achieve. As she continues to make us all proud, she has something to say to the government’s policy makers and management of educational institutions and corporates.
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