Srithanya Suresh created history by becoming the first Adivasi woman to crack the civil service examination, from Kerala. Adivasi Awaaz creator Kavi B. writes about her in the following article.
Suresh is currently working as Deputy District Collector in Kozhikode district. She is an inspiration for many, especially the young Adivasi girls, who are faced with constant challenges to their education, career opportunities, dignity and identity. Her parents Kamalam and Suresh are daily wage workers. Growing up, Srithanya lived in a termite infested house; a small cottage in the Thozhuvanna area of Wayanad. Srithanya, from her childhood wanted to join the administrative field and at the age of 26, she made her dreams come true.
Srithanya, drew her inspiration from a collector who had visited her hometown, while she was still young. Seeing a woman as the collector, filled her with hope and joy. Her economic condition though, was poor and was creating hurdles in her educational opportunities. Her family could not afford newspapers as well. Nonetheless, she cleared her school and college examinations with flying colours, securing the highest marks each time. While she was struggling financially, her friends helped her out with staying in Delhi. Amidst all this, there was a point of time when she returned to her hometown and started working as a labourer to pay the loans taken from her friends. She also met with an unfortunate accident at this time, where her arm got fractured. Nonetheless, she had the full support of her parents and the community, who helped her during her worst periods. In 2020, she took up the charge of assistant collector (on training) at Kozhikode. "Kozhikode is my second home. It has taught me many things. It's a great responsibility to assume charge during the pandemic," said Sreedhanya (Meethal 2020).
This is the first time that an Adivasi woman from Kerala has become a collector. Srithanya is being thanked for paving a new path for the adivasi students. From Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to Congress President Rahul Gandhi, many people came forward to offer praise and help to Srithanya. Srithanya's achievement of fighting against many challenges in society and succeeding will no doubt be a great inspiration to other students and women from backward classes. Srithanya, who made the nation look back, said this about her success:
"No circumstance is a barrier to achievement. My success will be a driving force for many more."
While it is great to see an Adivasi woman fighting structural discriminations and challenges to enter into the administrative services, it is imperative for the government to put an end to these structural challenges. The onus of challenging these structures should not be on the marginalized sections. It is the responsibility of the government to strive for equality and to provide equal opportunities to all.
This article is created as a part of the Adivasi Awaaz project, with the support of Misereor and Prayog Samaj Sevi Sanstha.