Vision, Passion, and Courage — Being Inspired by Indira Gandhi

  • March 07, 2021
NTT DATA IWD Kiran Ballal Blog Post

India — a nation of 1.3 billion people — is a power to reckon with today. And the grounds for this reckoning were set by several leaders. The “Iron Lady of India,” Indira Gandhi, maintains a formidable reputation across the globe as a stateswoman and plays a pivotal role in the nation’s foundation.

Indira Gandhi’s life was steeped in politics. Her father, Jawaharlal Nehru, was a leader in India’s independence and shaped her vision, passion, and courage. The Indian constitution grants women equal rights to men, but strong patriarchal traditions persist in many different parts of society. Indira’s exceptional skills and understanding of the Indian political arena catapulted her position in politics, and she was the first woman elected to lead the democratic country.

“To be liberated, woman must feel free to be herself, not in rivalry to man but the context of her own capacity and her personality.”
— Indira Gandhi

I was fortunate to grow up in a matriarchal society that included customs that empowered women with freedom of expression and economical choice. Those customs and beliefs shaped my decision to pursue a career in IT Services — an industry that provided endless opportunities —when India was in the process of establishing itself as a strong IT player.

“Whenever you take a step forward, you are bound to disturb something.”
— Indira Gandhi

Despite representing a relatively new-born democracy, Indira’s long hold on the Indian premiership brought about stability. She tackled the world’s superpowers with her no-nonsense attitude, which made India a dominating figure. She went to war with a neighboring country supporting the independence movement, which resulted in an Indian victory and Bangladesh’s creation. She was not afraid to voice her opinions and made decisions even when it meant conflicts within her party and key world leaders.

In the IT world, the daily routine is time-boxed and result-driven, and most of us are afraid of starting conflicts since we fear the outcome. Rapid technology disruption is an integral part of our industry; disagreement provides a window to analyze our work and opportunity for new ideas. If we have an opinion, we voice it, listen to other views, find the best solutions, and continue to grow.

“Opportunities are not offered. They must be wrested and worked for. And this calls for perseverance ... and courage.”
— Indira Gandhi

Among several progressive schemes, Indira Gandhi is credited with supporting India’s nuclear weapons program, which helped establish India as a formidable force.

India’s self-sufficiency in food owes to the Green Revolution that Indira Gandhi mentored. Encouraging Indian scientists to collaborate with their international counterparts, her policies resulted in Indian farmers taking to the new varieties with great enthusiasm — this required bold political leadership and far-sightedness. As a result, India converted an acute dependency on imported food and agricultural products to becoming an exporter of many agricultural products.

In the transforming world, realigning our skills and goals to our ecosystem’s evolving landscape is critical. I started my career as a Cobol developer on DOS and overnight was sent as a mainframe developer on my first overseas assignment. Learning mainframe and German alongside a hostile transition was only rivaled with no rice and loads of Bratwurst for sustenance.

Through these years in the corporate world, Indira Gandhi’s example has remained constant. She has taught me that opportunities are always available. And when it comes to success, the sky is the limit. Most importantly, when it comes to continuous learning, lean on the ability to adapt to change quickly, mentor, build and enhance your ecosystem.

Read more from the NTT DATA International Women’s Day 2021 blog series:

  • Mona Charif shares how her early experiences with those whose examples encouraged her on her career path, including U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris
  • Margo Cooke shares the wisdom of her young niece about her natural perception of female professionals
  • Ellen Daley discusses NASA research mathematician Katherine Johnson
  • Michelle Sangiuliano writes about Margaret Chase Smith, the first woman to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate
  • Eddie Woods discusses the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize – Wangari Maathai
  • Amy Oster shares her thoughts on U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
  • Terri Hatcher with comments on entrepreneur Madame C.J. Walker and the multi-faceted Annie Tumbo

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Kiran Ballal

Kiran Ballal is a Vice President of Project and Application Services for NTT DATA Services. She has more than 25 years of industry experience and has been with NTT DATA since 2001. She is currently responsible for the delivery to clients through our shared services team in India. She also leads the delivery excellence portfolio for the India PAS team and has been leading several organization initiatives.

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