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Breaking Barriers, Charting her own Destiny

The empowerment of all girls, including those in rural areas, is critical for the success of any nation. Bestowed with abundance of natural beauty, the state of Jammu and Kashmir has had its own set of challenges that have particularly affected the economic and social status of women in the region. In the midst of the unstable socio-political environment, few Kashmiri women, however, have managed to break barriers and are making continuous efforts to gain self-reliance. Meet pharmacist Dr. Tasneem Ara, who works as a Drug Inspector at Drug Testing Lab, Dalgate, Srinagar, Kashmir. Hers is not just a story of success and growth; it is also one of hope of a better future.

Tasneem Ara IPC Ghaziabad Valedictory Function
Dr. Tasneem Ara being felicitated at IPC Ghaziabad Valedictory function

Dr. Tasneem hails from Chawalgam, a serene village composed of around a thousand households situated on the bank of the river Vaishaw, around three kilometers away from the district headquarters of Kulgam. Blessed with pleasant weather, the ever sweet and calming sound of Vaishaw and rich seasonal aroma of almond, peach and apricot flowers, the natural beauty of her village always mesmerized her. Her father worked as Zonal Education Officer and her mother was a teacher in the government education department.

Since childhood, I was always fascinated by the scenic beauty of my village and especially plants and that made me remember the names of many plants along with their identification.
Dr. Tasneem Ara

Dr. Tasneem got her initial education under a small Government Girls Middle School located in her village. Her school was initially a two room kutcha building which later got renovated to a three room pukka building. During those days, students belonging to different standards used to sit in a single classroom with each standard assigned its row. However, those constraints did not dampen her quest for knowledge and she secured first rank among 10 schools in her grade 8 examination which was held at district headquarter in Kulgam.

During my school days, two to three teachers used to simultaneously teach their students of respective standards who sat in the same classroom.
Dr. Tasneem Ara

Later she joined a high school at Kulgam, Islamia Simnania School, which was a big change in her educational journey as she had to shift from Urdu medium to English. It was challenging for her and she struggled initially but she persevered and kept on working hard. She finally passed her 12th standard from Government Girls Higher Secondary School, Kulgam, and stood first in her school.

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Tasneem Ara Industrial Visit
Dr. Tasneem Ara during Industrial visits to TEVA (Israel based pharmaceutical company) and Abbott India under the aegis of IPC Ghaziabad.
Tasneem Ara with colleagues
Dr. Tasneem Ara speaking at IPC Ghaziabad (L) and with colleagues at National Institute of Biologicals, Noida (R)

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She was interested in science but wasn’t sure which particular discipline she wanted to make a career in, so she enrolled herself for B.Sc. from Government Woman’s College, Anantnag. By the end of B.Sc., she had made up her mind to pursue a career in Pharmacy and when she got qualified in post graduate entrance test of Kashmir University, she enrolled herself for its B.Pharm. course. She passed it with flying colours and secured second rank in the university. Later she also qualified GATE with a good score and got admission in M.Pharm. at BRNCP, Mandsaur, and passed it with honours in 2008.

Tasneem Ara during M.Pharm. days
Dr. Tasneem Ara during M.Pharm. days

Area of Research

Dr. Tasneem completed her PhD in 2016. The focus of her research was to develop novel ocular inserts of Diclofenac sodium amino acid conjugates. The outcome of her research was that such dosage form ensures patient compliance, greater bioavailability, less side effects and controlled delivery of drug.

I had to work harder for my research as I was doing it after my marriage balancing my professional commitments as a Drug Inspector. In future, I will try to guide students who are pursuing their research work in this field.
Dr. Tasneem Ara

She is also a member of editorial boards of International Journal of Innovations in Pharmaceutical Sciences, Journal of harmonized research and International Journal of Pharmaceutical Progress.

Dr. Tasneem started her professional journey with a brief stint as a teaching assistant at BRNCP, Mandsaur. She later moved to Pathankot and joined Sai College of Pharmacy as lecturer and served there for a year. She always wanted to move closer to her hometown but was unable to find opportunities as there were not many teaching vacancies in Pharmacy in University of Kashmir, the only institution where the course is offered in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. So when she learnt of opening of Drug Inspector vacancies in the state, and a government job which she always preferred, she did not hesitate to apply for it. As destiny would have it, she was selected for the job in 2009.

Tasneem Ara Drug Inspector
Dr. Tasneem Ara performing tests on drugs at her testing lab

I am really indebted to my beloved parents and my lovable sister who left no stone unturned to fulfil my aspirations. My adorable better half too has been my role model and a very helping hand throughout my research work. My profound thanks are all due to my respected teachers. And last but not least my thanks are due to all who helped me directly or indirectly in my professional journey.
Dr. Tasneem Ara

As a drug inspector, she is responsible for checking the quality of medicines and ensuring patient safety and efficacy of the said essential commodities. In future, she aspires to focus on more pharmaceutical research in the areas of ocular drug advancements and testing and analysis of various pharmaceutical substances. Just like Dr. Tasneem Ara, we hope many more courageous and confident women from the valley achieve success in their professional endeavour.

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