On August 29, 1996 Lance Naik Kandelu Rawat of the Engineer Regiment LK – 0097231 was killed by terrorists riling up the Kashmir Valley. In his death he left behind his wife and three daughters aged 8, 6 and 3. Today, the eldest one, Meena Rawat is 24 years old and is the head of her family doing what is dominated by men — she is running her own business of tyre dealership. There was a time when Meena thought she would never become part of the happy world whirling around her. She spent hours sitting and thinking how could she make money… the tool that could buy her family happiness. “I have always lived with the reality that when you have money you can ask for anything,” she said. Since her dad’s death, her family has had a tough time to hold steady their finances. In order to live with dignity and not surrender to any kind of compromises, Meena took some small jobs that would earn her `1,500. That was a humble beginning, only it did not end there. Soon she sought help from her father’s army friend, Mukesh Anand. With his assistance she started her tyre dealership. “Whenever I meet my father’s army friends, especially Mukeshji, I get a feeling of being with my father. They all have been very supportive in his absence,” she said. “Money is important in life,” she says. “It helps me buy all the good stuff that I can pamper my sisters with. But my duty does not end there.
I make sure to meet them every evening, hear out their problems, guide them when they need a word of advice and more,” she said. And spending time with the family is what she has been doing since they lost their father. “I know how it feels to have no one to lend you advice or hear out your problems,” she said explaining the challenges of being an eldest in the family. “To me it meant having to be strong. I couldn’t have broken down in front of them. I was their only source of strength,” she added. It has been two years since Rawat got the contract of her business. She has a staff of four men working under her and two offices — one in Ghaziabad and another in Noida. By putting in `1 lakh she gave her business that initial start and from earning small amount of `1,500 to getting `35,000, Rawat is the pride of the family. She is also happy because she proved many detractors wrong. The responses she garnered from the people around her were far from heartening, “The male dominated society that we live, everyone around me was discouraging. Ek ladki tyre ka business kaise karegi? they would ask,” she shared. And now with her success she has proved many wrong. Right from figuring the season of procuring tyres to understanding the nuances of setting up a tyre shop, Rawat knows it all now. And for her customers, she has JK tyres and Dunlop. Her next big dream is: “to get CEAT by next summer,” she said.
To be able to perform well all day Rawat starts her day with an energising session at the fitness centre and then a calming experience at the home temple. She reaches office at 10 in the morning and ends her day quite late. And not that she is grumbling either. She attributes her go-getter attitude to her father. “I am proud of my father and somewhere it is his strength that is working within me. He fought the enemies without thinking about his life. He didn’t surrender to the pressures of having a family with three daughters,” she said. “We know what challenges women face when they move out in the world to earn. Initially I was apprehensive but today I am not scared of anything, I am only prepared to fight what comes my way,” she said. She is strong but doesn’t believe staying single. “I will get married the day I find someone suitable,” she signed off. Any strong contender here?