Veena Gupta is the award-winning security service consultant from Gurugram who trains hundreds of women across the country in self-defence and self-security for free.
She is a 49-year-old, saree-clad bodyguard.
Meet Veena Gupta, the award-winning security service consultant from Gurugram who trains hundreds of women across the country in self-defence and self-security for free. Veena, whose strength of mind and body belie her dainty size, says that the idea of security being all about beefed up, muscular men dressed in black is a myth.
Veena has done several professional courses in security and martial arts, and is of the opinion that self-security is more about tact and common sense than physical strength. She emphasises on seven S’s — self-belief, self-acknowledgement, self-esteem, self-confidence, self-empowerment, self-motivation and self-defence — while training other women.
“Physical strength is important, but a sharp mind more so. Unless you have the mental strength, you cannot be physically strong,” she says.
Arpita Goyal, a student and resident of Sector 57, recently signed up for Veena’s sessions. She says she did so because a man in her area would constantly stop women in vehicles and ask them for lifts on the pretext of being ill. It had happened to her sister thrice, and she was petrified. Arpita enrolled herself, her sister and her cousin in Veena’s classes. She says, “Just one session made me more confident. Veena’s classes showed me that I already knew what to do in a situation of danger. We all have the reflexes, it only requires a bit of training to wake them up. My sisters and I have Veena to thank for that awakening.”
Though Veena owns a security service now, she did not begin her career this way.
Armed with a post graduate degree in Hotel Management, Veena started off as an executive in a premier hotel nearly 20 years ago. She followed the usual trajectory — a white collar job, a wedding and a child. But, she says, she always wanted to step out of the mould of normalcy.
“I was always a rebel; the white collar job bored me. As a young girl, I was always a ‘gundi’. I have four sisters; my family and I lived in a village in Haryana. My sisters and I would be eve-teased every time we stepped out. That’s when I learnt to defend myself, and soon began protecting all the girls and women in the village.”
Veena says she idolised Kiran Bedi and nurtured hopes of joining the CRPF or becoming a police officer, but lack of support from an orthodox family, a slight build and a short height became impediments for her. It was only in 2000 that she secured a job in an international security solutions company, and her journey in the male-dominated domain began.
From battling stereotypes about women and their weakness to social censure and facing scepticism from colleagues and clients, Veena endured a lot of professional and personal setbacks in her initial years of working in the industry. For the first few years, she would never be assigned independent security for men as she was thought to be too fragile.