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Delhi No. F. 2 (S-45) Press/ 2016


Vol-1 | Issue-12 | March 12, 2017 | Price ` 5/-

Good News Weekly for Rising India




Women are increasingly contributing in Gram Panchayats



women bureaucrats are all time and again shown their mettle in bureaucracy




The festival of colours is a hot favourite with young and old as well with stars



There are many women who have been carrying forward the torch for emancipation of their kind PRASANN PRANJAL


T various times in history, social reformers led campaigns against prevailing attitudes and practices. Raja Rammohan Roy’s crusade against Sati is a case in point: His exposure of Sati, as a practice forced on the widow, led to it being banned. There were others like Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, who fought for widow re-marriage. There still are many women who have been carrying the torch for emancipation of their kind. They could be from any region, any caste and any social strata, their contribution to social reforms isn’t any less than their male counterparts. Let us take a look at some of them...

CONTEMPORARY WOMEN REFORMISTS ARUNA ROY RIGHT TO KNOW How many of us have courage to come out of our comfortable cocoon and face the heat and dust to bring about a social reform. Aruna Roy did not only do that but much more. She quit the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) in 1974 – six years after she had joined it, to increase awareness among people about their rights and how they could get them. It was while working in the Administrative Service that she was exposed to the level of corruption within Indian bureaucracy. She became

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THE YOUNG AND GUNNING Patriarchy is such a strong and entrenched force that many people discriminate against women unknowingly ROBIN KESHAW


N Dangal movie, on the eve of her final match of Commonwealth Games, Geeta Phogat is nervous. Her father and coach, Mahavir Phogat (read Aamir Khan) encourages her. ‘If you win, it won’t be an individual win. This will be victory of lakhs of girls across the country, who are made to

believe that their only goal in life is to get married and engage in household activities’. Geeta went on to win her final bout and fetched gold for India. Our society has created countless, invisible ‘glass ceilings’ for the women, which are difficult to break. The conventional trajectory of studies and ...Continued on Page 3

02 Women Entrepreneurs

MARCH 12, 2017

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Young Entrepreneurs

A look at some of the young entrepreneurs who are truly making their marks


Back in 1999, there wasn’t any mentoring available for students appearing for competitive examinations, other than their own relatives and known faces. Aditi Avasthi couldn’t clear IIT-JEE back then, but she decided to bridge this gap for lakhs of Indian students. She started Embibe in 2012, which provides online learning content to help students prepare better for competitive exams such as JEE, BITSAT, AIPMT, etc. It is now one of the fastest growing and most innovative ed-tech startups in the country.



There is no dearth of online fashion portals in the e-commerce space. What sets Limeroad, founded by Suchi Mukherjee apart, is the scrapbooking feature, where a user can create unique and personalised looks using the products on the portal. With a degree from Cambridge University and London School of Economics, Suchi is quite aggressive in her approach and wants to see Limeroad as the world’s largest fashion portal.

Lingerie is still a taboo in India. When Richa Kar, a BITS Pilani graduate decided to sell lingerie online in 2011, it created a flutter in the market. Circa 2017, it has become a business as usual in the Indian market and now Zivame, her company, sells lingerie from top brands as well its own private chain.

SHUBHRA CHADDA, FOUNDER, CHUMBAK The quirky, colourful keychains, magnets, mugs, cushion covers, bags and other accessories, rich in ‘desi culture’, which have been attracting your attention for quite a while now, is all thanks to Shubhra Chadda, who founded Chumbak along with her husband Vivek Prabhakar. The idea originated when Shubhra wanted to offer a bit of desi culture to the foreign tourists in form of peppy, brightly printed souvenirs, way back in 2010. She hasn’t looked back since then.


Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean On and her TED talk on women leadership has inspired many. Manisha Raisinghani is one of them. After her Masters in Information Systems from Carnegie Mellon, she joined hands with Dhruvil Sanghvi to launch LogiNext, which looks to solve the problems of logistics business. The company is now helping the highly fragmented and unorganised logistics industry solve its problems by leveraging big data.



Finding a suitable house is a problem which every working professional has to deal with. Pankhuri Shrivastava wasn’t very happy about it and founded Grabhouse along with Prateek Shukla in 2013. Grabhouse cuts through the complex web of middlemen and brokers and provides easy rentals to the house-seekers. Shrivastava is a computer science graduate from Rajiv Gandhi Technological University, Bhopal and started her career as a fellow with Teach For India, where she taught underprivileged students for two years. Around 40 per cent of employees in Grabhouse are women.

SocialCops was founded by Sankar, along with Varun Banka to solve the social problems of the society. The company digs up the data, analyses it and presents it in a comprehensive format for easy visualisation. It is one of the largest sources of social data, which spans across sectors like education, health, etc. The start-up found a place in the 2015 Forbes India’s ’30 under 30’ and Fortune India’s ’40 under 40’ lists. One of its app Collect, which works offline, was quite successful during Chennai floods in collating data related to the disaster and rescue efforts.

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Women Reformers

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Quick Glance Society repeatedly sets up glass ceilings for the women Many aren’t even aware they are tripping women in this process Despite that, a host of women have started doing well as professionals

then a ‘not-so-ambitious’ career in itself is difficult for most of the girls and entrepreneurship is a tough nut to crack. Recent research by Development Economics and YouGov, funded by Facebook reveals startling figures. Of the 800 odd startups in India, only 72 have been founded by women. UNCONSCIOUS DISCRIMINATION One of the primary reasons for this abysmal figure is the ingrained societal attitude. “Initially when I was responsible for managing finances at MobiKwik, often auditors or investors and bankers would be surprised and ask to deal with someone male,” says Upasana Taku, co-founder of Mobikwik,

Aruna Roy quit the

civil services to increase awareness among people about their rights an online and mobile based payment system. It took Taku a lot of personal resolve to overcome this barrier. Sociologist Pooja Banerjee calls this as ‘unconscious discrimination’. “People aren’t even aware while they are creating hurdles for women in their professional set-up. This is even more dangerous”. The expectations to run the family, the prohibitions in working late hours, etc are some of the behavioural issues which come very naturally to us. This affects the professional and entrepreneurial aspirations of women, directly and indirectly. SHATTERING THE GLASS CEILINGS Despite the current realities, we have had women, young and roaring, who battled out the societal barriers to create a name for themselves in the business world. There are some encouraging figures which Facebook’s research has thrown – 4 out of 5 women in India want to start their own business. Slowly and steadily, women in India are creating the building blocks for a future, where women entrepreneurs will be treated equally as their male counterparts.

Arundhati Roy, author and activist, has won the Man Booker Prize for ‘God of Small Things’

aware of the problems of the poor and realized that in spite of the government’s endeavour to help the poor, little help was actually reaching them. Disturbed by the current state of affairs, she decided to do something about it. Fully aware of the fact that there was not much she could do as a government officer, she quit her job to join her husband, a fellow social activist, in his efforts to help the poor. Eventually she co-founded the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathana (MKSS), a social and grassroot organization for the empowerment of workers and peasants. Aruna Roy led the fight for transparency in governance resulting in no less than nine states adopting right to information laws. It finally led to a national level legislation by the Parliament determined to make her future in something she felt would make a difference to the lives of people. She joined the ‘Social Work & Research Centre’ of her husband Bunker Roy. She won the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership in 2000, the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Award for Excellence in Public Administration, Academia and Management in 2010. In 2011, Aruna was nominated to the Time magazine list of “100 Most Influential People Across The World”. ARUNDHATI ROY THE ACTIVIST NOVELIST Author and activist Arundhati Roy is best known for her fictional novel, “The God of Small Things”, which won her the Man Booker Prize in 1997. But she has written on diverse topics such as the Narmada Dam project, India’s nuclear weapons and American power giant Enron’s activities in India. She also served as a critic of neo-imperialism and has been linked with the antiglobalization movement. Arundhati’s mother, Mary Roy was an activist in her own right. A Syrian Christian from

Quick Glance Time and again, reformers have fought for the rights of women In the past, it were men like Ram Mohan Roy and Vidyasagar Now many women are coming forward the fight for their own rights

Kerala, she challenged the inheritance laws that denied her a share in her father’s property and won. Many say Arundhati’s own activism probably springs from her mother. Arundhati was awarded the Lannan Cultural Freedom Award in 2002, the Sydney Peace Prize in 2004, and the Sahitya Akademi Award from the Indian Academy of Letters in 2006 (which she rejected). IROM SHARMILA IRON LADY Manipur’s “Iron Lady”, Irom Sharmila is perhaps the most respected face from that state. She refused all food and water for more than 5,000 days in protest against the ‘Armed Forces

Special Powers Act’ (AFSPA), when she was being force-fed through a nasal tube. Although she gave up her struggle recently without any movement on that law, Sharmila is determined she will find a way to end it. She has resolved to enter politics, seeing it as the best way to transform the conflict-ridden narrative in Manipur. She has formed her own party and is contesting against two national parties – Congress and the BJP. Lifting AFSPA is naturally on top of her agenda. Whether she will succeed will be known only on March 11. However, there have been many voices heard against her, some militant Manipuri groups have even threatened to kill her. But the Iron Lady has seen bad and worse times and is not likely to give up easily. DR. SUNITHA KRISHNAN SUCCOUR TO RAPE VICTIM “I don’t remember the pain inflicted on me when I was getting raped. I do remember the indignation which followed. And I derive my strength from that indignation. I was 15 when I was brutally raped by a group of 8 predators. They forced themselves on me, brutalized me, but they couldn’t subdue my conscience. I never saw myself as a victim. I am 44 now, but that rage motivates me even today and gives me the strength to raise my voice against those who see women as an object”, says Dr. Sunitha Krishnan, co-founder of Prajwala, a nongovernment organisation (NGO). Sunitha is no ordinary woman. In our society, a rape victim is burdened with guilt and stigma - the guilt of being labelled a wrong character and the stigma of being made an outcast. Sunitha could have been ‘just another rape victim’. Instead, she decided to fight for changing society’s attitude towards the rape victims. She started meeting the rape victims

Irom Sharmila may have given up her marathon hunger strike, but she is still fighting AFSPA

04 Women Reformers

MARCH 12, 2017

Manasi Pradhan,

author and poet from Odisha, is fighting to stop violence against women in her state

on regular basis to understand their pain and suffering. Her zeal to understand their agony brought her to brothels. She realized that there are thousands of these women who get ‘raped’ on a daily basis and yet the ‘business’ goes on. She made it her life’s mission to emancipate the children and women from the clutches of human traffickers and rehabilitate them. In 1996, she teamed up with Brother Jose Vetticatil to start ‘Prajwala’. The organisation is dedicated to fight against trafficking and preventing women and children from entering prostitution. Till date, ‘Prajwala’ has liberated more than 20,000 human lives, out of which around 8,000 were girls below 10 years of age. The figures are startling and so is Sunitha’s resolve. She has dedicated herself completely to understand the conditions of sex workers, emancipate them and streamline the rehabilitation process through legal means. She firmly believes that human trafficking stems from the existing societal mindsets and attitudes. We would need an attitudinal overhaul, if human trafficking is to be eradicated, she believes. For her outstanding work in preventing commercial sexual

Manasi Pradhan

Pramila Nesargi

exploitation of women and children, Sunitha was awarded Padma Shri in 2016. She has conceptualized 14 documentary films and published multiple books and reports on the topics such as prostitution, sex trafficking, etc. Sunitha’s efforts have highlighted the issue of human trafficking and sensitized lakhs of people in the process. Sunitha has been able to raise the right questions against prevalent patriarchal mindsets and bring the desired change.

‘Outstanding Women Award’ in 2011 from the National Commission for Women. She is the founder of Nirbhaya Vahini and OYSS, two non-profit organisations, the first dedicated to ending violence against women, the other set up to educate young girls and women. For her work, Manasi was awarded the Stree Shakti Puraskar in 2013.

MANASI PRADHAN FIGHTING FOR WOMEN RIGHTS Manasi Pradhan is from Odisha who has been fighting to stop violence against women. She is an author and poet who overcame extreme poverty to establish herself. She recalls walking 15 kms every day to attend a village school. She was the first girl from her village to pass school. Despite touch circumstances, she studied for degrees in law, Odia literature and economics. In 1983 at the age of 21, she started her own printing press and literary journal. But Manasi is best known for her nationwide campaign to end violence against women. She has won many accolades including the

Women like acid victim Laxmi or Shaheen Mistri are working at crucial social levels

PRAMILA NESARGI FIGHT AGAINST SEXUAL VIOLENCE Pramila Nesargi is a Bangalore based lawyer who has earned accolades for taking up sensitive, high-profile causes. Pramila is the first woman to be elected in the past 50 years to the Karnataka Bar Council as Chairman of the Bar Association. From child labour to sexual violence at work and the plight of prisoners, she has been a forthright champion of the weak. She began working early as a lawyer. All this might sound surprising considering the fact that she was the first in her family to go to college. AMALA AKKINENI ANIMAL ACTIVIST Former film actress, Bharatanatyam dancer, animal welfare activist, and an inspiration for many, Amala Akkineni, is a vocal crusader for animal rights and a strong advocate of vegetarianism. She is actively involved with the Blue Cross, an NGO in Hyderabad working for animal welfare. She had a short career in Bollywood including Pushpak Viman, a silent movie where she starred opposite Tamil star Kamal Haasan. In 1992, when she got married to Telugu superstar Nagarjuna Akkineni, she walked away from the limelight without looking back, to devote time for the care of animals. LAXMI AGARWAL THE CRUSADER Laxmi Agarwal is an acid attack survivor who has emerged as the voice of other acid attack victims. In 2005,

Amala Akkineni

when she was 15, a 32-year-old man threw acid on her, disfiguring her forever. Her story, along with others, featured in the Hindustan Times and she used the publicity by getting 27,000 signatures for a petition to curb acid sales, and taking that cause to the Indian Supreme Court. Her petition made the Supreme Court issue directions to regulate the sale of acids in the market. Laxmi is the director of the Chhanv Foundation, an NGO dedicated to help the survivors of acid attacks in India. In 2014, US first lady Michelle Obama presented her with the International Women of Courage award. She was also chosen as the NDTV Indian of the Year. She is the face of Viva and Diva, promoting all girls to reflect on their inner beauty rather than exterior appearance. SHAHEEN MISTRI TEACH FOR INDIA Shaheen Mistri is the CEO of ‘Teach for India’, and the Founder of Akanksha. She has received global recognition for her dedication and commitment to educational equity. Shaheen has a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Manchester, UK but was moved by the plight of children living in Mumbai’s city slums who lacked access to quality education and were deprived of the skills necessary to compete in India’s formal, competitive job market. The first Akanksha Centre was founded in 1989. It is a non-profit education project that provides after school tuitions to needy students. Shaheen expanded her centre to make it more transformative, which led to the ‘Teach For India’ programme in 2008. Since then, the organisation has recruited, trained, and placed nearly 1,700 Fellows in schools across seven cities. Shaheen is an Ashoka Fellow (2001), a Global Leader for Tomorrow at the World Economic Forum (2002), and an Asia Society 21 Leader (2006).

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Woman reformists have had great impact in the past, and no less so in the present PRASANN PRANJAL WB Yeats wrote: “No matter what disaster occurred She stood in desperate music wound, Wound, wound, and she made in her triumph...”


OMAN reformists have had great impact in the past and no less so in the present. They have played every character, from mother, daughter and sister to activists, revolutionaries and saints. In doing so, they have nurtured the future of every woman in India. Sulabh India salutes their spirit and pays them heartfelt tribute. 1. MOTHER TERESA THE HEALER Also known as the Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, Mother Teresa (born 1910, Macedonia) was an Albanian Roman Catholic nun and missionary. She taught in India for 17 years before experiencing a “call within a call”, to work for the poor and the sick. She founded the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic congregation, active in 133 countries. The charity takes care of patients suffering from leprosy, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS and runs homes and hospitals for them. Recently canonized as a saint, Mother Teresa was honoured with the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. 2. SAVITRIBAI PHULE DALIT REFORMER Born in 1831, she is described as “one of the first generation modern Indian feminists”. It was a time when people hardly identified with women’s grievances, but Savitribai Phule, married at the age of nine to Jyotirao Phule, had in her the fire of a reformer. Helped by her husband, she founded the first women’s school in Pune in 1848. She noted the plight of pregnant rape victims and opened a care centre where they could deliver their children. She had a well dug in the premises of her home for the lower castes and untouchables. She died in 1896 while caring for patients infected with bubonic plague.

3. JANAKI DEVI BAJAJ TRUE GANDHIAN Janaki Devi Bajaj Institute of Management Studies for Women in Mumbai was established in 1997 as part of SNDT Women’s University. The institute is a tribute to a woman who surrendered all the rich trappings of her life to embrace khadi for participating in the struggle for an independent India. Born January 1893, Janaki Devi was educated at home and was married at the age of eight into the Bajaj family. She gave up purdah and moved by social evils campaigned for the entry of Harijans into temples in 1928. In





Women Reformers

4. ANNIE BESANT THE NATIONALIST She was described as “Diamond Soul” for many aspects of her character. For Besant was not only deeply spiritual, she was a champion of freedom for India and Ireland from the British Raj, an educationist, philanthropist and a brilliant exponent of theosophy. She was elected the first woman president of Indian National Congress in 1917. Annie Besant was born in London on 1 October 1847. Her father, William Page Woods was half-Irish and halfEnglish, and belonged to a distinguished family, one of his ancestors having been the Mayor of London and another a Lord Chancellor. Although a devout Christian who was even married to a clergyman, Annie Besant (nee Wood) went on to challenge the dictatorship of different religions. Despite being a foreigner, she joined the Indian National Congress as part of her crusade for freedom to India. She had a deep regard for Mahatma Gandhi but disagreed with his tactics and strategy. Although her commitment to India’s independence remained unshaken, Besant devoted much of her



During the Independence Movement, many women pioneers had asserted their rights

subsequent years, she followed her husband as he gravitated towards Mahatma Gandhi and the freedom movement. Janaki herself took part in the Civil Disobedience Movement of 1932 and was jailed by the British authorities. Post independence, she worked for the ‘Bhoodaan Movement’ led by Acharya Vinobha Bhave. She was conferred Padma Vibhushan, the nation’s second highest civilian award in 1956.

life to the Theosophical Society in Madras (now Chennai). Today she is valued not only for her contribution to India’s freedom struggle but also for the number of institutions she founded including Madanapalle College in Andhra Pradesh, the Adyar Arts League, the Girls College in Varanasi and many others. 5. SAROJINI NAIDU


THE NIGHTINGALE India’s Nightingale was a poetess of considerable repute, but she was also fierce in her commitment to her nation. She was among the first to answer Gandhiji’s call for Dandi March. She was involved in the Non-cooperation Movement, later the Quit India movement. Sarojini Naidu was born on February 13, 1879 in Hyderabad. Her father, Dr. Aghore Nath Chattopadhyay was a scientist, philosopher and educator. He founded the Nizam College of Hyderabad. Her mother, Varada Sundari Devi was a poetess in the Bengali language. Dr. Chattopadhyay was the first member of the Indian National Congress in Hyderabad. Sarojini was proficient in multiple languages including English, Bengali, Urdu, Telugu and Persian. She topped her matriculation exams from Madras University. Her father wanted her to become a mathematician or scientist, but young Sarojini was attracted to poetry. She met Muthyala Govindarajulu Naidu, a South Indian, and a non-Brahmin physician while she was studying in England and fell in love. After returning to India, she married him at the age of 19. Sarojini was initiated into the Indian political arena by iconic stalwarts of the Indian freedom struggle, Gopal Krishna Gokhale and Mahatama Gandhi. She was deeply affected by the partition of Bengal in 1905 and decided to join the Indian freedom struggle. She inspired many freedom fighters with her poetry. Naidu was the first Indian woman president of the Indian National Congress and the first woman to be appointed governor of a state, Uttar Pradesh. 6. KANAKLATA BARUA RAW COURAGE Assamese freedom fighter Kanaklata Barua was only 17 years old when she was shot dead by police as she attempted to hoist the tricolour on top of a police station in Gohpur on September 20, 1942. She failed but others succeeded, leaving a legacy, which is a reminder of the ferocity of her spirit and her determination never to give up. Kanaklata was born in the Borangabari village of the undivided Darrang district of Assam as the daughter of Krishna Kanta and Karneshwari Barua. Her grandfather Ghana Kanta Barua was a famous hunter in Darrang. Her mother died when she was only five and her father, who remarried, died when she reached thirteen. Because of her martyrdom at such a tender age, she has become a legend, an inspiration to thousands of young Assamese. Many have compared her to Joan of Arc, others to the Rani Jhansi who died fighting the British on the field of battle.

06 Women in Panchayat

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Gram Panchayats are the administrative foundations of our country. While the increasing contribution of women has provided an accelerated pace to development, they have also succeeded in curbing crimes such as domestic violence

Snapshots The level of advancement of a society is clearly reflected in the status of its women Today, from mere discussions on their rights, women are taking firm strides ahead Nowhere is this better reflected than in the base of the male bastion, the gram panchayats



r Bhim Rao Ambedkar had once said, “If you want to estimate the development of a country, just have a look at the status of women in it and that will give you an idea of the country’s development.” It is true. Estimating a country’s development is impossible without taking into account the condition of women in that country. It’s heartening to know that India has taken a huge leap in this area. Chavi Rajawat and Kamala Bai as Gram Panchayat chiefs, are truly the names reflecting development. These women have successfully provided health facilities, clean drinking water and roads in their areas. Now women issues are not confined to being the topic of discussion only. Instead, women themselves are playing key roles in politics and administration, thereby contributing to the nation’s development. There are talks of women’s contribution in almost every field nowadays. This is a reflection of

It is clear that the hard work put in by these

women at the village panchayat level cannot be compared to that of any other person their performance. But the selfless women in the rural areas somehow don’t get proper appreciation. It’s clear that the hard work being put in by these rural women can’t be compared to that of any other person. Gram Panchayats are a good example of this. Before jumping on to the role of women in Panchayats, we have to keep some things in mind. Gram Panchayats are the basic units of our political and administrative set-up and require utmost sensitivity. It is a challenge trying to successfully develop rural areas suffering from numerous deficiencies and problems like illiteracy, poverty and social malpractices. Villages reflect the true reality of a nation. Not just today, even during our

struggle for independence, a large number of our freedom fighters also understood the importance of development in rural areas. How can one forget the significance of villages in the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi? Even now, a lot of rural development programs and schemes of the government face numerous challenges. In these circumstances, strengthening our panchayats should be among our top priorities. After all, implementing the schemes and programmes in the villages are in the hands of panchayats. The pace of development has picked up only after the reservation of seats for women in panchayats.

WOMEN IN PANCHAYAT The three-tier Panchayat system was implemented post independence in 1959. The decision was based on Balwant Rai Mehta Committee’s recommendations. But the 73rd Amendment to the Constitution was passed in 1992 in order to ensure women’s participation in panchayats. Under this act, constitution of Gram Sabhas was made mandatory and one third of the total panchayat seats were reserved for women. The role of women in panchayats truly started from here. Panchayat elections were conducted periodically. Since then, 16 states have reserved up to 50 per cent of total panchayat seats for women. These states, among others, include Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Assam, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Now we can see the positive impact of the 73rd Amendment. While the role of women in the rural community earlier was limited to the four walls of households only, now they are shouldering crucial responsibilities in major political parties and are being consulted periodically over major decisions. ROLE OF RURAL WOMEN Even now, the work done by women is largely ignored in the economic cycle. Women in rural India work much harder than their counterparts in urban areas. Here women have always been a symbol of diligence. They are rubbing shoulders with men while working in the agricultural farms. Women can also be seen working with the animals in the barns. It is entirely true that the contribution of women is a basic element of rural development. But they are still being denied their rightful due for their hard work. The women in

MARCH 12, 2017

Women Reformers



Staying Back! After getting her management degree from IIMM in Pune, she came to work for the uplift of her village


oday, where people having a decent education find migrating to cities a better option, Chavi Rajwat opens the eyes of such people. Chavi of Rajasthan, contested and won in her own Soda village of Tonk district. Chavi has completed her MBA from the Indian Institute of Modern Management in Pune. She worked in several places afterwards. But then decided to offer her services for the development of her village and contested in the 2011 election for Sarpanch and won with a massive margin. She says clean drinking water and other development works or her basic goals for the village. She was even appointed to the Board of Directors of the Bhartiya Mahila

Bank. She has also addressed the world leaders and ambassadors from around the world in the 11th ‘Infopoverty World Conference of United Nations’ in 2011. Of course, by becoming a Sarpanch with such good educational qualifications, she has broken many misconceptions. Having successfully drawn the attention of the youth towards village develpment, she harps upon the need for higher/professional education in the rural area. Just suppose what image pops into the mind when it comes to a village Sarpanch. But Chavi has proven this ideology wrong and has successfully established an ‘image’ of her own.


Superb Sarpanch After she returned to her village with her labourer husband, she decided to contest the panchayat polls, and won


onk district in Rajasthan is one of the 250 most underdeveloped districts of the country. But the Sarpanch, Badam Bairwa of Luhara village did a great job by ushering in the winds of change. She took up this responsibility at the age of only 35 years. Earlier, after her marriage, she used to live with her husband in Jaipur, who worked at a construction site. After birth of their children, they came back to the village, and that’s when she fought the 2010 Sarpanch election and won. Educated till class VIIth herself, Badam believes education to be the vital part of life. Strongly opposing veil – an age-old tradition in Rajasthan - Badam says, ‘ it’s a social malpractice. I stopped doing it after winning the elections. You too should shun it’. She specially focused on the problems like availing clean drinking water, improved education system and road construction. She also got 75 hand pumps installed in the village. Recruiting new teachers for the 10th class was by far one of the most challenging tasks she has done. Badam says that she continued writing letters to the SMD until the teachers were recruited. Although Badam is very confident of her

work done so far, it wasn’t the same when she started out. Badam tells us, how she used to hesitate in taking decisions. But she grew in confidence over time, understood situations and adapted to them. But, most important part was seeking and getting cooperation of rural women to resolve tricky situations. When she visited Gujarat for Panchayat Member Training Program, it was her first tour outside Rajasthan. Sharing her experience, Badam says, ‘It was my first chance to see the outside world. When I was out in Gujarat, my husband used to look after the kids back home.’ Calling education vital for life, Badam has also arranged for proper computer training. And she says that after her win, many more women have started attending panchayat meetings.

Education is the

most vital thing, she says, and has trained herself in handling computers

Being a sarpanch with a management degree has helped her break many misconceptions

panchayats now clearly understand this and have been executing the schemes like MGNREGA with much more accuracy.

through villages for inspection and discussing problems with men, side by side. All this was made possible by the reservation for women in panchayats.

SENSITIVITY ON WOMEN ISSUES The problems faced by rural women are extremely challenging. She firmly believes that if the women were to lead the panchayats, chances are they will be more sensitive to their problems and work to solve them. There are countless examples where women, as panchayat chiefs, have either stopped domestic violence in village altogether or substantially controlled it. They have also played a major part in stopping cases of dowry and child marriage.

ILLITERACY, THE GREATEST CHALLENGE Illiteracy, more or less is a common problem for our entire country, but the lack of education among the rural women gives rise to several obstacles. However, many women, including the Madhya Pradesh Sarpanch (head of panchayat) Kamla Bai beats all such claims as she is also illiterate, yet she has successfully completed her tenure. There are also instances where the illiterate women of panchayats have taken care of the educational needs in their village, by repairing and constructing schools. Still, considering the rising contribution of women in this field, the government should look for ways to educate them.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS The rural women of Manipur are one of the strongest in the country. They carried out a campaign against liquor and ostracized the alcoholic men. Elected from the Satna district of Madhya Pradesh, Sarpanch Kamla Bai is another good example. Kamla Bai, belonging to a tribal community stopped the prevailing feudal forces in the village. Getting it done wasn’t easy, hence Kamla had to face these forces herself. She faced a lot of challanges, but firmly stuck to her job. POWER WITH RESERVATION Our society talks of empowering women, but doesn’t accept their strong role in society. They are only accepted when imprisoned in the four walls of household. Obviously, it was a challenge earlier for a woman to come out in a panchayat and put forward her opinions, but ever since the reservation, they have gained enormous power, working in their own ways, going

LONG WAY TO GO We have come a long way since the reservation for women in Panchayats. A large section of women have been enlightened and have been empowered with their rights. But in view of the numerous challenges before us, we have a long way to go. The discrimination and other social malpractices in the villages affect the pace of development and obstruct the effective functioning of Sarpanchs. Watching women Sarpanchs do their job and promote education despite being illiterate themselves is undoubtedly a happy experience. However, in order to escalate the pace of their work, it’s important to focus upon the other dimensions of rural development from time to time.

08 Women in Governance

MARCH 12, 2017


MATRIARCHY IN GOVERNANCE! They are often considered the weaker sex and either given soft postings or are discriminated against. But women bureaucrats have time and again shown their mettle SSB BUREAU TINA DABI If there could be one role model for aspiring bureaucrats there is no one better than Tina Dabi, who topped the Civil Services examination in 2015. She hailed from the lowest caste in the social hierarchy - Kamble. Yet, she planned meticulously and succeeded in one of the toughest competitions in the country. That too in her first attempt when she was just 22 years of age. After passing her 12th with 93 per cent marks from Convent of Jesus and Mary, Tina enrolled herself in Lady Shriram College of Commerce but not in B Com (Honours) but in BA (Political Science). At the same time, she also enrolled herself in one of the prestigious coaching institutes for Civil Services exams. All along while doing her graduation she was preparing for the IAS. And the preparation paid

when she topped the exam. Interestingly, the result reflected cosmopolitan nature of our country. The topper was a Dalit, second position holder was a Muslim and third position was held by a Sikh. After completing her training, she opted for Rajasthan cadre. KINJAL SINGH Kinjal Singh lost her father when she was just a kid. Kinjal’s father Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) KP Singh was killed by his own colleagues in khaki who feared the DSP would expose all their misdeeds. He was then posted in Eastern UP town of Gonda. Kinjal with younger sister Pranjal, struggled with their mother Vibha to get justice. Vibha had been given a compassionate appointment in the Varanasi treasury. She used to travel with her daughters to Delhi seeking justice from Supreme Court as the police had treated it as a case of DSP

Tina planned meticulously and succeeded in one of the toughest competitions in the country

Singh being killed in an encounter with dacoits. Kinjal knew she had few options. She didn’t have much money and neither the emotional support of her father. She just had to study hard to succeed in life and to be able to get justice for her slain father. She secured admission in Lady Shri Ram College in Delhi and started preparing for civil services. Soon, Pranjal too joined her with the same goal. While the two sisters were toiling hard, they received an unexpected setback. Their mother Vibha was diagnosed with cancer. Now they were fighting on two fronts - ensuring proper treatment of their mother and that ensure their preparation wasn’t hampered. However, Vibha died just when the two were about to take their civil services mains exams - contended that her daughters were about to achieve their life long goal. They both cleared the UPSC examination in 2007 with Kinjal securing the 25th rank and Pranjal securing the 252nd rank. Kinjal and her sister Pranjal then dedicated their energy towards their lifelong goal to get those behind their father’s murder arrested. Their determination was so strong that it shook the entire judicial system, eventually leading to a verdict in their favour. In 2013, after intense struggle, the CBI Special Court in Lucknow penalised all the 18 perpetrators behind their father’s murder. Kinjal qualified for the IAS and married a fellow IAS officer Abhay Kumar. She has also earned a reputation for being a stern officer during her stints as district magistrate

Snapshots The administrative services were once the most formidable and unbreakable male bastion Now, women officials are doing exceedingly well and have come out as strong personalities They are not just in the IAS, but have given the country some very strong policewomen

first in Lakhimpur Kheri and then in Faizabad. Her recent gesture to buy one kg of bitter gourd from a deprived old woman for Rs 1550 instead of its actual cost of Rs 50, earned her rave reviews in the media - both traditional as well as social. SANJUKTA PARASHAR If there is one Lady Dabang, it is Sanjukta Parashar, the 36 years old Kalashnikov-wielding IPS officer of Assam cadre. Mother of two kids, she is able to meet her IAS officer husband once in two months. It’s not for nothing that the feared Bodo militants used to be afraid of Parashar. She is the first IPS officer from Assam and is currently posted in Delhi. Parashar completed her graduation in Political Science from the Indraprastha College for Women in New Delhi and later went to the Jawaharlal Nehru University ( JNU) to do post-graduation and doctorate in International Relations. Little did she realise that she would instead be busy with internal situation in the country

MARCH 12, 2017 for the rest of her life. She was ranked 85th in the civil services examination, and chose police service. After training, Parashar was first posted as the Assistant Commandant of Udalguri where she had a major task at hand - controlling ethnic clashes between the Bodos and illegal Bangladeshi migrants. She was posted in Jorhat for four years before leading the anti-Bodo militant operations in Sonitpur district of Assam, where she arrested 64 militants in the last 15 months. She is a fitness freak. Doesn’t hit bed before midnight and gets up early and hits the road. She has successfully participated in many a marathon. Even in Delhi, early morning jog is part of her routine. She is also active on social media where she exhorts young children to join the police. Her posts also reflect her antipathy for the criminals and her deep empathy for the victims. MERINE JOSEPH Merine is peeved with media reports focussing more on her looks than her work. She has often been described as most beautiful, most gorgeous or sexiest IPS officer in the country. She is the youngest IPS Officer to be selected in the Kerala Cadre at 25 years of age. She cleared the UPSC exam in 2012 in her first attempt. Her first posting was as SP, Ernakulam Rural. But, soon she earned a name for herself with her exemplary work. Merin was born and bought up in Delhi and completed her BA and MA from St. Stephen’s College. Her father is a Principal Advisor in the Ministry of Agriculture and her mother is an Economics teacher. In 2015, she got married to a Kottyam based psychiatrist, Chris Abraham. B. CHANDRAKALA Who can forget that video which became viral on social media in December 2014 which portrayed a diminutive officer shouting at fellow officers for shoddy construction work being undertaken by them. The lady was district magistrate of Bulandshahr in Uttar Pradesh, B. Chandrakala. She was shouting at officials and contractors for sub-standard construction work. Chandrakala, a 2008 batch UP cadre IAS officer, instantly became a hit in the social media as she echoed the voice of millions of people who often complain about potholes in newly laid-out roads. The conversation went something like this ‘Is this your work? You will go to jail for this! This money belongs to the people, not you. There is a limit to taking a cut. Commission-khori ki bhi had hoti hai! Out of the 17 contracts

given to you, work has not begun on 10 of them,” said Chandrakala. “Chup! Galti aap logon ki hai”. An FIR should be lodged against this kind of work. Otherwise, an FIR will be registered against all of you. Have some shame. Morality has died in you. Within two days, road construction with new tiles should begin here. Otherwise, you will be blacklisted’. The mother of a 10- year-old daughter, Chandrakala, 35, hails from Andhra Pradesh. Her mother tongue is Lambadi spoken by most Banjara or Lambadi people living in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. A postgraduate in economics, Chandrakala was till recently the DM of Mathura. In yet another viral video, Chandrakala is seen visiting a local government school in Bulandshahr,

Women in Governance

Mumbai Crime Branch in its 150-yearlong history. To be a woman police officer in a force that has barely one or two per cent women is unique in itself; but to head an investigative force of 300 police officers is definitely a first. RIJU BAFNA Hailing from Chhattisgarh and posted as IAS officer in Madhya Pradesh, Riju set an example of courage when she filed an FIR against Santosh Chaubey, Aayog Mitra of MP Human Rights Commission for sending her indecent messages. He was immediately removed from his position and a criminal case was filed against him. However this was just the beginning of the nightmare for this extremely talented and beautiful officer. Her troubles started when she had to testify

Marine Joseph is the perfect example how men go for looks of women, not their work

picking up chalk and duster and start questioning the students. When some students were unable to answer the questions, she is seen slamming the teachers. Then, in another class of the same school, she is seen asking maths questions. MEERA BORWANKAR Meera is our country’s first female IPS officer in Maharashtra Cadre from the 1981 batch. Hailing from the small town of Fazilka in Punjab, she belongs to a Punjabi family and her father was in BSF. She has completed her graduation form Jalandhar. Known as the ‘Lady Supercop’, she came into limelight for arresting the gang members of Dawood Ibrahim and Chota Rajan. She also unearthed a sex scandal in 1994 at Jalgaon. The Bollywood movie ‘Mardani’ is based on her. She was also the first ever woman to be posted as Commissioner of

in the court. She was not comfortable in narrating her story in front of the crowd. This infuriated the voyeuristic crowd. She, however, refused to budge and politely said that she wanted privacy as a woman and not as an IAS officer. And she had her way. Born in 1973, Riju secured 77th rank in the UPSC exams in 2013 and joined the service after completion of her training next year. She has done her Masters in Economics in 2011 from the Delhi School of Economics and graduation from Kirori Mal College. Before becoming an IAS officer, she was working with Cambridge Economic Policy Associates. Last year, she got married to her batch mate Avi Prasad who is also an IAS officer. SMITA SABHARWAL Smita hogged the limelight last year suing one of the country’s leading


news magazines after it described her as “eye candy”. Outlook magazine also carried an illustration showing Smita Sabharwal walking the ramp at a fashion show with her political bosses leering at her. Sabharwal termed the remark was “sexist” and “demoralising”. “She makes a fashion statement with her lovely saris and serves as ‘eye candy’ at meetings,” the magazine had reported in a recent post, without naming her. It added that her portfolio “is a mystery” and what “she exactly does is a puzzle”. Sabharwal, 38, currently posted as Additional Secretary to Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhara Rao, is a 2001 batch officer. She cracked the IAS examination at 23 and secured an All-India fourth rank. She said the illustration was about her attendance at a recent fashion show in Hyderabad. “What disturbs me the most is the suggestion that a woman is able to rise in her career because of her beauty. It is very demoralising for the thousands of women stepping out of their homes and making their career,”, she said adding, “In all my 14 years of working as a civil servant, I have never been discriminated against or made to feel any lesser because I am a woman or good-looking. It is only now, when I have become the first woman to be appointed to a chief minister’s office that I am getting this.” Smita is a commerce graduate. She hails from Darjeeling, West Bengal. Her father, Colonel PK Das is a retired Army officer because of which she attended school in many parts of the country. She finished her schooling from St Ann’s in Secunderabad and has graduated in Commerce from the St Francis Degree College for Women in Hyderabad. Smita is married to Akum Sabharwal, an IPS officer also from the Telangana cadre. They have two children. Smita has multiple pages on Facebook set up by fans and supporters, each with thousands of likes. But she does not have accounts on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. BANDANA PREYASHI An IAS from 2003 batch, Bandana has done her college from St. Stephen’s, Delhi. She is the district magistrate of Siwan, Bihar. This lady is known for her no-nonsense and bold approach. She was born on 21st February 1974 in Bihar. A great inspiration for all the females of Bihar, she stood up against the crimes taking place in Bihar.

10 Event

MARCH 12, 2017



The programme had a special nukkad natak from the students of the Sulabh School Sanitation Club



ULABH International, the organisation which has received great recognition and acclaim for pioneering work by its founder, Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak, presented a special show at Mavlankar Hall in Delhi on February 28, 2017. The function was held to reiterate the dream of the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to restore dignity to the common man, to build toilets in every house, and to stop defecation in the open by 2019. This occasion was marked by the celebration of the country’s sanitation drive through dance, music, drama, discussions and exchange of views. This included an exchange of views on the Swachh Bharat initiative by the students of Sulabh Public School and Sulabh School Sanitation Club. It was encouraging and heartening to hear and watch children participating in the discussion. The honoured guests for this program included the renowned singer/dancer from Spain, Ms Maria del Mar Fernandez, who sang in a Bollywood film recently. Ms Maria was introduced to the guests as the cultural link between the two countries, India

Snapshots Sulabh India has won accolades for the humanitarian vision and work of Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak It organised a gala event to reiterate its commitment to the vision of PM Narendra Modi The presentaions by the children left a deap, abiding impression on the audience

Maria del Mar Fernandez from Spain regaled the audience by singing the now famous song from Hindi film Zindagi Na Milega Dobara

and Spain. The audience was delighted to meet the ‘first Spainish voice’ in Indian films, who sang for ‘Zindagi na milegi dobara’. Other guests included Ms. Pam Kwatra, Executive Board Member, N.Y.C., Economic Development Corporation, New York. Ms. Kwatra is also the Chairperson of Sulabh International Center for Action Sociology (American division). Ms. Hina Chakraborty, a former curator, restorer and senior artist at Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti (Ministry of Culture, Government of India) was also present at the program as guest of honour. The program, beginning with the welcoming of guests, was followed by a ‘nukkad natak’ by students of Sulabh School Sanitation Club. The inauguration of paintings made by Hina Chakraborty revealed the artist’s commitment to Gandhian thought and philosophy. A film on ‘Hansana Mera Kaam’ enthralled the audience.The

Sulabah International prayer, a beautiful composition, set the tone of the day’s program. Samirendra Chatterjee, executive president, Sulabh International gave the welcome address. In his speech Dr. Pathak welcomed and honoured the guests. He spoke about their achievements and distinction. Dr. Pathak who is a pioneer in the cleanliness drive in India, spoke about the rising general awareness regarding the same and the contribution of the common citizen in this direction. He discussed the mission of Sulabh and recounted his own experiences while working for the same. He said that there are 6 lakh villages in India and the people living there need to be trained in construction of toilets so that this work can find expansion. He emphasised the need for supervision as also the implementation of the projects. Dr.

Pathak expressed anxiety over reports of mediocre construction, bad maintenance and misuse of land acquired for this purpose. Fortunately, Sulabh has not faced any such complaint till date, he added, and the organization is alert regarding the construction and maintanence work. Dr. Bindeswar’s speech underlined his aim of making India a completely clean place with focused work in toilet construction. Dr. Pathak mentioned the Prime Minister’s dream of having a toilet in every house by 2019. In the event, Dr. Pathak mentioned the many films that were screened on different occasions, which talk of encouragement in this direction. The priority given to toilets has become obvious through recent slogans like ‘toilets before temples’. This corresponds to the goals of Sulabh International. Dr. Pathak pointed out that while all subjects are discussed in this age of media power- from information to social networking, and all such subjects become the focus of attention in the media, any debate on toilets is generally avoided. This has to change because this issue is also linked to the centuries-old practice of untouchability, imposed upon a section of society in India since ages. It is due to the efforts of Sulabh that the subject has become an important one that is frequently discussed and its significance is realised. The event on 28th Feb included programs presented by children on the need to stop defecation in the open and construction of indoor toilets. The presentations were extremely impressive. The children’s show on the re-use of plastic too was very relevant – this included cups, plates and dresses made from recycled plastic. The children conveyed an important message when they walked the ramp wearing dresses made from recycled material. The audience was deeply moved and impressed by the performance of the children presented in skits and street plays. Praising Dr. Pathak for his work, the Chief Guest called him a great soul. She praised him particularly for his work in relation to widows. Dr. Pathak has not only worked for society, she said, but he has also inspired many others through his exemplary initiatives.

MARCH 12, 2017

Women Advocates




Courts are another male bastion now broken by women, who are overwhelmingly enrolling in law courses. A private university has been set up in Rajasthan especially for women’s law studies

Monica Arora feels

SANGEETA SHARMA Legal profession has never been looked upon as good choice for women as it is believed that this requires to deal with crime and criminals. A lawyer is seen to defend hard core criminals and goons, so clients usually don’t trust women lawyers to represent them. Of late, times have changed drastically. After the liberalization in late 1990s, women saw legal profession as a good career option as job openings came up in the corporate sector. It was after the setting up of National Law College in 1987 in Bangalore, which offered five years’ integrated courses of law degree that women started getting more attracted to law as a profession. Surprisingly, both men and women have been enrolling in this course almost in equal numbers. Law has become a most sought after profession today and more and more women are not only joining it but specializing in various related fields. Today law courses are intellectually challenging, professionally significant and socially relevant. They are part of college curriculum and are topped up by skill development. There is a leading private University in Laxmangarh, Rajasthan called ‘Mody University’, which caters to women only for teaching not only Law but other related courses like Law and Governance, Law and Society, Business Laws. ‘Mody University’ imparts not only legal education but also specialized multidisciplinary courses to women. To study law is one part but to excel as a lawyer is another skill which requires lot of skill, patience and perseverance. Women lawyers face more challenges than their counterparts as it is more demanding and time-consuming. According to Monica Arora, a distinguished lawyer in the Delhi High Court, “it is tough for women to survive in the competitive world but it is not difficult if one takes it up as a passion. “I quit my job from Delhi University to pursue my passion in law. I get immense satisfaction to help people in distress and to stand for their rights.” My family wanted me to take up some “Women Like Profession” which was obviously teaching, but I quit full-time lectureship and moved on to my passion and became a full-time lawyer. Initially there was a great opposition both from my husband’s side and my parent’s side but later it was accepted. We women have to doubly prove

that to survive in this competitive world of the legal profession, one needs passion

ourselves to remain in the race. We have to be better than our male counterparts and also prove our efficiency. I liked helping people so I did cases for social cause. I went around helping almost everyone I met, the rickshaw puller, the street vendor, the maid, the lady next door till I could win the trust of my clients. Later I took up cases of Delhi University, Many of our text books in Delhi University had distorted version of our culture which was very disturbing. I took up the challenge and fought a legal battle up to Supreme Court and got the text removed. “Imagine Bhagat Singh being called a terrorist in one of our text books. It was horrifying. We opposed it in court and got relief”. Another lawyer Shikha Rai, besides being a lawyer is also an active politician. She is also the Vice President of Bhartiya Janta Party Delhi State. She works almost 18 hours a day helping people. Many of our party workers have legal problems relating to their personal or family issues. I help them resolve these issues. “I got motivation from my paternal grandfather to join law as he always wanted me to be a judge”, Shikha said. “I did my Law and also Masters in English. I took up lectureship as a profession” but after marriage my husband, who is also a lawyer motivated me to take up law as a full-time profession. Initially, it was very difficult to win the trust of the clients. It was hard for clients to believe that any

Snapshots The profession of law has eluded women for a long time as clients could not trust them Clients felt they would not be able to defend hardened criminals, so shunned them Now there is a host of legal eagles, and even an all-women university to teach law

lady can argue their case before the court. Now times have changed and many multinationals prefer women as their in-house counsels. The lawyer’s job is no longer confined to litigation, there are many other avenues for women in this profession, she said. One can pursue legal practice in international relations, corporate law, human rights, cyber law, Maritime laws and much more. According to Aishwarya Rai Bhatta, the legal profession has been always looked upon as a male bastion. Ladies usually don’t prefer going to courts for litigation. Legal profession is very demanding and time-consuming. It requires lots of efforts, skills and energy. The one positive point where women have an edge is that they have compassion. Women lawyers can connect easily and understand the pain of a client. A lawyer can make a difference in other’s life. Mostly I take up cases of

women and children as I feel these people are at the receiving end. I joined law as my elder brother Dr. Pushpender Singh Bhattai who was a lawyer at that time, encouraged me to do so. He is now a judge in The Rajasthan High Court. I am lucky that I have the support of my family otherwise it is very hard for a women lawyer to carry on in her profession and also meet the family obligations. Manjula Chawla of law firm Phoenix Legal says, “Initially when I joined the corporate sector I had to work in the office for long hours. There was hardly any occasion to visit the court. My colleagues started asking me whether I have quit the legal profession. Initially it was hard to believe that a lawyer can work from office alone”. Now there are more than 500 law firms in the country and women are working as successful lawyers giving advice to clients across the world. Manjula said women lawyers are proficient and have specialization in various fields of law-like banking , finance, Intellectual Property Rights, corporate and other laws that help businesses grow. There are many trans-border disputes which women lawyers from India are handling independently. This requires extensive overseas travel and high level of skill and expertise, she said. Today eminent women like Pallavi Shroff, Zia Mody, Pratibha Singh, Neena Bhasin, Indu Malhotra, Indira Jai Singh are doing very successfully in their careers. Though the profession is very demanding, time-consuming and serious activity, women are joining it and have proved themselves by integrating a work-lifefamily balance in their professional and private lives. We look forward to more women joining this profession to fight the ills of the society and provide meaningful lives to socially weaker but very vital sections of the society.

12 Women in Sports

MARCH 12, 2017



Indian sport was historically dominated by men. But the arrival of athletes like PT Usha, Shiny Wilson, Saina Nehwal, Sakshi Malik, PV Sindhu and Mary Com have revived people’s interest in women sports as well

Snapshots Sport in tradtionally hidebound India had remained a fortress beyond the pale of women The film ‘Dangal’ has succinctly brought out how women find it difficult to enter serious sport Now with a host of medals won by Indian women in various sports, the interest has revived

Even in Paralympics, Deepa Malik’s silver medal in shot put was another victory for sportswomen across India. Scoring a silver medal, she became the first Indian woman to win a Paralympics medal.



hat sisters Geeta and Babita didn’t realise while thrashing the bully who abused them, was how this was going to change their lives. As depicted in the film Dangal, based on Geeta Phogat’s life, their actions revived dead hopes of their father, Mahavir of bringing medals to the country. Hoping for a son to train for the Olympics, his dreams perished after having four daughters in a row. Depressed with the mentality of male dominance, Mahavir learnt to live with despair until he comprehended that his girls were no less than boys. The movie compliments this realisation with a trademark dialogue where Mahavir says, ‘Mhari Chorian Choron Se Kam Hain Ke’. However for the girls, at first it was just a punishment for their silly fight. But soon they grasped the reality and started enjoying the freedom their father had bestowed upon them. They realised how lucky they are to get a chance of doing something with their lives.

Out of the 117 member Indian contingent for the Rio Olympics, only two could win medals and both of them were our women

THE STRUGGLE It’s a tough task for a woman to make a break in a male dominant society. If a woman still makes it, it’s only through her own dedication and sheer hard work. But in some cases, such as this one, it is also due to people like Mahavir who understand that women are no pushovers. In a developing country like India, women have done a great job breaking the social stigma around women playing sports. That too, not just in the urban areas but in rural areas of the country as well. Professionals like Asha Roy, Arunima Sinha, Geeta Phogat and countless others are examples of this phenomenon. However, it’s not just India’s struggle alone, women worldwide have yearned for equality, respect and dignity for a long

time. Even now in times of liberty women sports lack the basic requirements like service, facility, funds and acknowledgement. But in recent times, girls have changed people’s minds by proving themselves in the arena, be it Delhi Commonwealth Games or Rio Olympics. OLYMPICS 2016 Just taking an example of the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics for women’s performance in sports is eye-opening. Out of the 117 participants in the Olympics, India won only 2 medals. And surprisingly, both of them were by women players. At the end of the day Sakshi Malik’s bronze in wrestling and PV Sindhu’s silver in badminton saved the day for India.

ENTERING THE ARENA Women’s contribution in Indian sports started after Mary D’Souza’s appearance as the first Indian female athlete in the Olympic of 1952. It had been only 5 years since the Independence that Indian women started entering the international arena. After her, countless others followed her into sports. These women diverted into a number of disciplines. Let’s see what they have been doing so far… HOCKEY The Women’s Hockey Team won gold medal in the Commonwealth Games in 2002 and a film ‘Chak De India’, has beautifully depicted their progress from being a bunch of hopeless youngsters to champion players. Though, it is a fictionalized account of many players and incidents depicted have been exaggerated, in reality the Indian team won the gold in which coach Mir Ranjan Negi had a major role just like Kabir Khan, as shown in the film. Suraj Lata Devi, the former captain of the Indian women’s national field hockey team who led the nation to pride by winning the 2002 Commonwealth Games comes from the remote areas of Manipur. For three consecutive years, she tasted success by bringing home laurels in the 2003 Afro-Asian Games and 2004 Hockey Asia Cup.

MARCH 12, 2017

Women in Sports

The 2002 Commonwealth Games also threw up another big name- Saba Anjum Karim, the youngest player of the champion team. She has also represented India in the Junior World Cup 2001, 2002 Asian Games, 2004 Asia Cup and the 2006 Commonwealth games. For her great performance and her efforts in India’s pride, she has been honoured with Arjuna Award in 2013 and Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award in 2015. Other notable women hockey players have been Pritam Rani Siwach, another former captain of the team, who was conferred with Arjuna Award in 1998. CRICKET Sachin Tendulkar or more recently Dhoni and Virat Kohli are the names that automatically pop up in our heads as soon as we hear the world cricket making it the most popular game dominated by men. But when it comes to pure cricketing skills, women are at par with men, says Indian Women’s Cricket Team captain, Mithali Raj. Majority of people don’t know that the national women’s cricket team of the country has also being doing pretty well. But as far as acknowledgement goes, many in India aren’t even aware of women’s cricket team’s existence. The women’s cricket team may not have won the World Cup but has made it to the semi-finals three times and have even been the runners-up in the world cup. That the likes of Anjum Chopra, Jhulan Goswami and Sandhya Agarwal have been conferred with Arjuna Award, speaks volumes about their achievements. The latest women cricket star is Ekta Bisht, from Uttarakhand who scalped five Pakistan batswoman while conceding only eight runs in her quota of 10 overs in the Women’s ODI World Cup Qualifier organized in Colombo last month. BADMINTON & TENNIS Badminton and Tennis are two games where Indian eves have even surpassed men. Everyone knows the names of PV Sindhu, Sania Nehwal, and Sania Mirza and they deserve it. Sania Nehwal, the former World’s No. 1 badminton player has kept her name in the top 10 since 2009. She has won gold medals in Commonwealth 2010, World Junior Championship 2008 and Commonwealth Youth Games 2008 while she has also won at least one medal in every BWF major individual event, for example a Bronze in Olympics 2012, Silver in World Championship 2015 etc. Sania Mirza however was the world’s number one player for both women’s singles and doubles and has secured several medals in various tournaments. She has been honoured with Arjuna Award in 2004, Padma Shri in 2006, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna in 2015 and

Padma Bhushan just last year. PV Sindhu has also been awarded with Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna 2016, Padma Shri 2015 and Arjuna Award 2013 for her several achievements on international platforms like a Silver in 2016 Olympics, Bronze in World Championship, Uber Cup, Asian Games, Commonwealth etc. There are countless other players in these sports as well but Aparna Popat, Ashwini Ponnappa, Jwala Gutta have been specially honoured with Arjuna Award while Madhumita Bisht with both Padma Shri and Arjuna Award. In Table Tennis, Neha Aggarwal and Poulomi Ghatak are big names.

2016, Asian Championship and world junior championship 2010. Both Jakhar and Malik have been awarded with multiple honours. Like Geeta Jakhar has been honoured with Bhim Award, Arjuna Award and Kalpana Chawla Excellence Award for Outstanding Women and Sakshi Malik has been honoured with Padma Shri just this year and Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna earlier. BOXING MC Mary Kom is one of the most wellknown personalities in boxing. She has scored as much as 13 gold medals on International platforms along with some occasional silver and bronze medals. She has won gold medal in Women’s World Amateur Boxing Championship for 2002, 2005, 2006, 2008 & 2010, Asian Women’s Boxing Championship of 2003, 2005, 2008, 2010 and 2012 Asian Games 2014, Indoor Asian Games 2009, Asian Cup Women’s Boxing Tournament 2011 and Witch Cup 2002. With so many gold medals in her showcase, she also has bagged multiple national honours to go with it. Some major Awards are Padma Shri, Arjuna Award and Padma Bhushan. Aside from the one woman army Mary Kom there are other women pugilists like Kavita Chahal and Laishram Sarita Devi with major achievements in Indian Boxing. With multiple medals in world and Asian Championship, Kavita has been honoured with Arjuna and Bhim Award. Sarita Devi too has won Asian championship a number of times.

Geeta Phogat

WRESTLING The name Geeta Phogat has been largely celebrated in wrestling after her victorious performances in the Commonwealth Games. Coming from a backward village and compromised family her success in sports had been a landmark for all. She has won Gold in Commonwealth 2010 and Commonwealth Championship of 2009 and 2011. She also won Silver and Bronze in several other games like Commonwealth 2013 and World Championship. Other names in wrestling are Geeta Jakhar and Sakshi Malik. While Jakhar has enjoyed a longer and successful sports career with numerous medals like Silver in Commonwealth Games 2014, Asian Games 2006 and Asian Wrestling Championship 2003 and 2005, Sakshi Malik is a youngster with extraordinary talent. She started playing at the age of 12 and so far has bagged multiple medals in Asian Junior Championship which includes silver in 2009 and gold in 2012. She won a silver in Commonwealth Games and bronze in Olympic Games

became the first wrestler to have ever won a gold in the Commonwealth Games for India

ARCHERY AND SHOOTING A game with mythological linkages in India, archery is a huge sport here with


lot of well-known players and fan following as well. The country has in fact named one of its highest honours Arjuna, over one of the mythological figures said to have excelled in archery. Leading this field, there are Chekrovolu Swuro, Deepika Kumari, Dola Banerjee all honoured with Arjuna Award. Chekrovolu Swuro was awarded with Arjuna Award in 2013 after her participation in 2012 Summer Olympics. She may have lost there but she has won multiple medals in World and Asian Championships as well as Commonwealth. Deepika however has won multiple gold in Commonwealth and silver and bronze in World Championship, World Cup and Asian Games. Dola Banerjee has also won gold in World Cup 2007, Commonwealth 2010. The most famous name in shooting however is Rahi Sarnob, Gold medalist of ISSF World Cup 2013 She was the gold medalist of 2 consecutive Commonwealth Games 2010 and 14. While she won bronze in the Asian Games 2014, she had also secured a silver medal in 2010 Commonwealth games in 25 meter pistol shooting WOMEN AND SPORTS “Sports has huge potential to empower women and girls”, UN Assistant Secretary-General and UN Women Deputy Executive Director Laxmi Puri said at an event. She stressed on achieving gender equality in sports and organising more mega events to espouse women empowerment. Not only her, there are many more researches and papers suggesting it. A paper by Allison Huggins and Shirley Randell concludes, “With selfconfidence, leadership and teamwork skills, girls are better equipped to challenge societal norms which continue to oppress women and relegate them to being second-class citizens.” It says, “With each woman who excels in sport, barriers are broken, and a new generation of girls is able to benefit from participation in sports in a way that their mothers and grandmothers could not.” WOMEN ON BOARD Ask yourself, how many girls you see playing cricket or hockey in your local parks. Or how many women do you personally know who play sports for a profession. We instil a mentality that girls are soft and boys are tough buying dolls specifically for girls and trucks for boys. It’s not the society we need to fight but the mentality. Women empowerment has been a social agenda for a long time now. But now women don’t need men to empower them. They can do anything themselves. They have proved time and again that they are better, than men. They deserve better recognition and if not better then at least equal treatment.

14 Good News

MARCH 12, 2017




AYUSH HOSPITALS EVERYWHERE Health ministry to set up a hospital in each district in the country

MOBILE BANKING TO ALL The move is aimed at promoting digital transactions


N a move to promote digital transactions postdemonetisation, the government on the first day of March asked banks to provide mobile banking facility to all customers by the end of the current fiscal on March 31. “What we have asked the banks to do is to enable all customers who have mobiles for mobile banking. We are asking banks to run a nationwide campaign up to March 31 to ensure that every customer who has a mobile phone is enabled for mobile banking,” said IT Secretary Aruna Sundarajan. “The reason is earlier mobile banking wasn’t a priority. And therefore, many customers may not have said they want mobile banking services. But today, they want it,” she said.



Two lakh families to avail of the facility extended by Kerala govt

Become brand ambassador of South Delhi Municipal Corp


N order to promote health and fitness, Sripad Naik, the Union AYUSH Minister announced that the Central government has decided to set up one AYUSH (ayurveda, yoga, unani, siddha, homeopathy and naturopathy) hospital in each district of the country. He said, “In the eight north-eastern states the AYUSH hospitals would be set up in 90:10 per cent funding ratio basis with central government bear 90 per cent of the total project costs and the remaining 10 per cent would be borne by the state government concerned.” Naik, who came to Tripura on Tuesday on a three-day visit, said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi attaches special priority to the northeastern region and as part of this; the Union Health Ministry is keen to set up AYUSH hospitals in each district of all eight states.




N order to promote sanitation and cleanliness in the national capital, South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) has roped in wrestlers Geeta and Babita Phogat as brand ambassadors. SDMC has already signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the two sisters to take its sanitation campaign forward. At a function at the Civic Centre, the two sisters and Additional Commissioner of SDMC GS Meena signed the MoU in the presence of South Delhi Mayor Shyam Sharma, Chairman of SDMC Standing Committee Shailender Singh Monti and Municipal Commissioner PK Goel among others. Speaking on the occasion, Goel expressed gratitude to the two sisters for accepting the SDMC’s proposal to become ‘Swachhta’ brand ambassadors. “The Phogat sisters have earned accolades in women’s wrestling and have been a source of inspiration for the women of India. They will not only

highlight our achievements, but also create awareness on cleanliness.” Goel expressed confidence that with concerted efforts from the SDMC and the two sisters, the corporation will be able to improve its ranking in the ‘Swachhta’ survey. “With the Ho Jaye Do Do Haath campaign, we will be spreading the message of swachhta (cleanliness) in Delhi,” said Babita. SDMC will use photos of the two sisters in its print as well as outdoor campaign. Audio clips with messages from Geeta and Babita will be aired on FM radio stations and video clips will be aired on TV channels. Sharma said the decision to appoint the two sisters as brand ambassadors for the campaign was unanimous. The inspirational story of the two sisters from Haryana winning international medals under the watchful eyes of their father Mahavir Singh Phogat, in a sport dominated by men, was celebrated in the recently-released Aamir Khanstarrer Bollywood film ‘Dangal’.


NTERNET has become one of the basic requirement in modern life, hence it’s the government’s job to provide it to everyone. So has done the Kerala government, providing 20 lakh new internet connections in the state. “Internet would be made the right of the people and two million (20 lakh) “poor families” will get free access to the web,” the Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Issac said presenting the budget. HE further added, “Internet will now become a right for the people and within 18 months the internet gateway would be set up through the K phone network at a cost of Rs 1,000 crore. Two million poor families will get free internet



Proposal needs approval of Lieutenant Governor SSB BUREAU


HEERING the labour and working class, the Delhi government has already bestowed a Diwali gift on its people. Arvind Kejriwal, the Chief Minister of Delhi approved the proposal to hike the minimum wage in the territory up by around 37 per cent. The proposal now needs clearance by the Lt. Governor Anil Baijal. Revision in the minimum wages is done on the recommendation of a committee formed after former Lt Governor Najeeb Jung returned the file of a proposal to hike minimum wages by about 50 per cent last September. A special tripartite committee, comprising of five members each from the government, labour unions and industry associations was formed with approval from the LG to remove the

discrepancies. This committee held several meetings in this regard. The final committee meeting was held on February 16. The Delhi Cabinet approved the recommendation of the new committee to revise minimum wages in the national capital on Saturday. Addressing a press conference, Kejriwal said, “This is a very big and historic decision. With this, we are directly putting money into the pockets of poor people. The Cabinet decision would be put before the LG for clearance. We are sending this file to LG Sir (Anil Baijal) and are very hopeful about its approval. I will personally go

and meet him in this connection. If LG approves this proposal, then it will be a Holi gift to the labourers in Delhi. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Convener said the special committee constituted by the Delhi Labour Department recommended a hike in minimum wages by about 37 per cent. “The minimum wages for unskilled labour in Delhi currently stands at Rs 9,724 per month, which has been increased to Rs 13, 350,” Kejriwal said. “For semi-skilled and skilled persons, the minimum wage would be increased from Rs 10,764 to Rs 14,698 and from Rs 11,830 to Rs 16,182, respectively,” he said.

Good News

MARCH 12, 2017

Quick Glance The Award was presented by Asian Business Publications Limited The award was presented at a function in House of Commons Previous winners are British PM Theresa May & ex-PM David Cameron


LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD TO INDIAN SCRIBE HS Rao, the Press Trust of India journalist in Britain, gets the award in recognition of services spanning half a century INDIA ABROAD NEWS SERVICE


ETERAN Indian journalist of the Press Trust of India news agency in the UK, HS Rao, has received a ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ for his illustrious career spanning

nearly five decades at a ceremony here. Rao, 75, was awarded the prize at a function in the House of Commons complex yesterday evening. The Political and Public Life Awards are presented annually by the Asian Business Publications Limited (ABPL),



The State Government has taken up 10 integrated solid waste management projects for 14 urban local bodies at Rs 421 cr



NDER the Mission Nirmal Bengal, the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has taken up 10 integrated solid waste management projects for 14 urban local

bodies, at a cost of Rs 421.69 crore to recycle and reuse the solid waste of the state. The official statement revealing the news said, “Tender processes of these projects have been initiated and all the ULBs have been instructed to

publishers of ‘Asian Voice’ and ‘Gujarat Samachar’ newspapers. In 2013, Theresa May, who is now the British Prime Minister, was named the winner while in 2010, former prime minister David Cameron won the award. “H S Rao has been a journalist with the Press Trust of India, the premier news agency of India, for nearly five decades. He has travelled the world with Presidents and Prime Ministers. He is regarded as the doyen of Indian journalists in Britain, having given a lifetime of service to journalism and the truth,” the award citation reads. Rao received the award from Eleanor Lang MP, Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons and the chief guest of the event, and C B Patel, the publisher and editor of ABPL Group. “For the past five decades, my journey as a journalist with the Press Trust of India has been a challenge and an opportunity. I have strived to ensure my journalistic work is fair”, he said.



The move is expected to boost entrepreneurship in the state


HE Chief Minister of Odisha, Naveen Patnaik has launched a Startup Odisha Helpline in a bid to encourage entrepreneurship among youth in the state. He said, “I hope this Helpline will provide a platform to our youth, incubators and other stakeholders to address their issues.” A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was also signed between Invest India, the National Investment Promotion and

Facilitation Agency of the Union Ministry of Commerce, and Odisha MSME department. “I am sure that partnership between Startup Odisha Initiative and Startup India Hub run by Invest India will help us in achieving the ‘Mission-1000 Startups’ by the year 2020 and help our youth in realising their dreams,” he said.

Quick Glance


West Bengal Government has launched Mission Nirnam Bengal Four districts have already achieved status of total open defecation free


Sulabh Shauchalaya builds five toilets in Kathmandu

More than one lakh individual toilets constructed in the four districts

create massive awareness. The urban local bodies are in Kolkata, Dum Dum, North and South Dum Dum, Baranagar, Bhatpara, Naihati, AshoknagarKalyangarh and Habra, Asansol, Krishnanagar, Santipur, Nabadwip and Jalpaiguri. Under the mission, four districts, namely Nadia, North 24 Parganas, Hooghly and East Midnapore and its 55 urban local bodies have achieved open defecation free status by completing the construction of more than one lakh individual household latrine. The government said that another 21 urban local bodies of Burdwan, South 24 Parganas and Coochbehar districts aim to construct more than 1.5 lakh household latrines to achieve open defecation free status by March 2017. The state government has provided Rs 452.17 lakh to all the 125 urban local bodies for public awareness generation and spaying larvicide oil to prevent vector borne diseases like malaria.


ONTA Club of Kathmandu has handed over five toilets built using Sulabh technology to Pashupati Area Development Trust. Two toilets are meant for men and women each, while one is for the persons with disabilities. “Sulabh Shauchalay is one of the most interesting and successful social innovations of modern India. Sulabh International initiated an innovation programme based on fabricating a new design of low-cost water-seal toilets. Zonta Club Kathmandu has signed an Mou with Sulabh to use their technology,” the club said in a statement.


MARCH 12, 2017 We call upon all communities to be “tolerant, to reject prejudice based on caste, creed, sect, color, religion or agenda to ensure freedom and equality for women so they can flourish. We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.”

Malala Yousafzai 16th birthday, UN Address

GEETA SINGH The author is the Managing Editor of Parliamentarian and has been writing on socially burning issues as well as culture matters for over two decades


WOMEN IN FINANCE – BANKING IS THE BEST POLICY WITH THEM International Woman’s Day is an occasion for the celebration of womanhood. It is interesting to know that India is the only country in the world where top banks are headed by a women boss.


WOMAN POWER TO THE FORE More women are coming out to hone their skills and make a name for themselves


he condition of women in India was believed to be miserable. But that has over the years, been proven to be a myth. Women in India are flourishing in every sphere of life. Let’s take the recent US election for an example; one of the loudest chants in the US election was the possibility of America electing its first women President. Their dreams were not fulfilled, however India has had both a woman Prime Minister and a woman President in our offices. We also having a woman Speaker of Indian Parliament. Even in mundane challenges, they have been beating men to the punch. Now a day, more and more women are coming out to expedite their skills and make a name for themselves. As of 2014, World Bank findings dictated that 27 percent of India’s total women population was working. Despite a swift decline in this figure, India still reflects a better figure than countries like Pakistan and Morocco. At the same time, India has a much larger population, hence contributing approximately 158 million to the working class. Now that number is larger than the total population of some of the most developed countries. Half of a country’s population constitutes of women, and empowering them with education and skills can only benefit the country. The government is also working to overcome this gap with various schemes overseen by the Ministry of Women and Child Development to Educate, skill and empower women. If the Mckinsey Global Institute’s (MGI) study is to be believed, just by bridging the gender gap in the working population, India can boast it’s GDP (Gross Domestic Production) with additional 46 lakh crore by year 2025.


KUMAR DILIP Edited, Printed and Published by: Monika Jain on behalf of Sulabh Sanitation Mission Foundation, owned by Sulabh Sanitation Mission Foundation Printed at: The Indian Express Limited A - 8, Sector -7, NOIDA (UP) Published at: RZ - 83, Mahavir Enclave, Palam - Dabri Road, New Delhi - 110045 (India) Corporate Office: 819, Wave Silver Tower, Sector - 18, NOIDA (UP) Phone: +91-120-6500425 Email:,


nternational Woman’s Day on 8th March is an occasion for the celebration of womanhood but more for introspection too. Today the literacy rate for women in the country, who represent 48.2 percent of the population, has gone up. Overall female literacy rate in India is 60.6 percent. This can be partly attributed to government funding of women’s literacy programmes such as “Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan” and “Saakshar Bharat Mission for Female Literacy”. One, the percentage of girls dropping out of schools has gone down by more than 16%, two, overall female literacy has gone up by 10%. The increased female literacy has brought with it a heightened awareness among young girls and women about their rights. According to various studies, female education attributes to cumulative development of the state and contributes to the GDP of the country. According to International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) chief Christine Lagarde, India’s GDP can expand by a whopping 27 percent if the number of female workers increases to the same level as that of men. Today although the outlook is changing in our society, education is empowering Indian women with confidence and job opportunities. Due to increasing literacy rate, Kerela tops in the ranking with 91.98 % and Rajasthan comes least with 52.66 per cent. Nowadays the number of women for working outside the home is increasing but our current standing in employing women in the economic cycle is abysmally low. India is languishing at 124 out of 136 nations under survey to rank women participation in the economic workforce. Despite the fact it is associated with a number of positive empowerment. Critically, working women, have greater decision-making power and have greater say in decision making, jointly with their partners. These women are going to different fields - from traditional ones like teaching to extraordinary ones such as fighter pilots, but one

sector where women are breaking the glass ceiling is banking and finance. Indian banks, and in fact the entire financial services sector, has witnessed the women leadership phenomenon. The emergence of women bankers has led to giving millions of unbanked a new identity, connecting them to the national mainstream. The most remarkable visible feature of this positive change is the long queue of upcoming women leaders in this sector. More interestingly, India is the only country where top banks have women heads. Indian banks have a sterling record when it comes to providing opportunities for women, compared to the US. Author and anthropologist Melissa Fisher who studied women who have broken into Wall Street over the last 50 years says, “On the top floor the glass ceiling remains, with women massively under-represented in senior positions. Not a single global bank is run by a woman.” The situation is different in Indian with large number of women making it to the top of banking industry – both in public and sector banks. The female bankers who have broken the glass ceiling in India are - Arundhati Bhattacharya (State Bank of India), Chanda Kochhar (ICICI Bank), Shikha Sharma (Axis Bank), Usha Ananthasubramanian (Punjab National Bank), Naina Lal Kidwai (HSBC), Kaku Nakhate (Bank of America) and Shubhalakshmi Panse (Allahabad Bank). These women bankers have brought an exemplary changeover in the way the world sees India. The banking sector which was male dominated till the 90s witnessed the successful journey with an onset of the millennium when the country got its first woman boss at a nationalised bank. Ranjana Kumar took charge as a Chairman and Managing director (CMD) at Indian Bank. At the time of her appointment, Indian Bank was saddled with huge losses. But, during her tenure, she ensured turnaround of the bank.

Education is

empowering Indian women opportunities & is making them more independent

MARCH 12, 2017

The emergence of

women bankers has given the unbanked a new identity, bringing them into mainstream She had begun her banking career in 1966 as a probationary officer in Bank of India, where she served in various capacities. Presently the Chair-Managing Director (CMD) of State Bank of India (SBI), Arundhati Bhattacharya is the first woman to ghead country’s biggest bank. In 2016, she was listed as the 25th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes. Born in a Bengali family in Kolkata Arundhati spent her childhood in Bhilai. Being a student of English literature, Bhattacharya always wanted to become the writer and hence books hold a special corner in her heart. Accidentally she became a banker, but she has successfully laid the foundation of three new businesses – general insurance, infrastructure fund and custodial. Despite her busy schedule, she takes out time to read books and prefers books which are based on the empowerment of women. She refers to herself as a voracious reader, who ends up reading one or two books at a time. When Standard Chartered named Zarin Daruwala as its India head in 2015 it gave the signal that this sector will rule by the women to top spots in the country’s banking sector. Chanda Kochar, the ICICI Bank CMD for last seven years is one of the highest paid corporate executive in India. After receiving 15 per cent salary hike last year, her annual basic salary was Rs 2.31 crore. Recently a letter written by her to her daughter has gone viral. The letter is an example of how much emphasis she lays on the finer things in life- love, family, and relaxation. Her daughter, Aarti Kochhar, stood on the threshold of her career, and her mum wanted to prepare her for what life is going to throw at her. Chanda wrote, “Our parents treated all three of us – two sisters and a brother – equally. When it came to education, or our future plans, there was no discrimination between us based on our gender. This also helped me when I started out on my own journey of self-discovery.” The Modi government’s Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana is setting another optimistic example for women entrepreneurs who have struggled with accessing finance due to a disproportional lack of collateral for decades in India.


The author has been writing on gender issues, women and child right issues for 6 years. She also writes stories and poetry besides analytical columns.



NY woman who understands the problems of running a home will be nearer to understanding the problems of running a country.” Former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher India is predominantly a patriarchal society. Women post-marriage get their husband’s surname. Children inherit father’s surname. Women traditionally, were supposed to look after the house while male members would go out and earn. Things however, are changing. Women are no more confined to four walls of their home. There is not only talk of gender equality but it is being implemented in all spheres of life – through societal pressures and in some places through constitutional changes. They have been granted right in ancestral property at par with their male siblings. They have been given 33 per cent reservation in panchayats. Their number in higher elected bodies like state legislatures, Lok Sabha and Rajya




Women are breaching the glass ceilings. They are a force to reckon with. Marriages are being decided by women’s choice only. Are we prepared for the change? Sabha is at an all-time high. We have seen a lady Prime Minister and lady President as well. Women are competing with men in all spheres, often breaching the glass ceilings. They have now been flying planes – not only civilian aircrafts but fighter ones as well. Who can forget that both medals won by India in Rio Olympics last year, were won by women – PV Sindhu in Badminton and Sakshi Malik in Wrestling? India had sent a 117-athlete contingent including 63

men, none of whom was able to win a medal. Examples are being set every day. The latest being a marriage in Bathinda (Punjab) which saw complete role reversal. The bride took baraat to groom’s house. Bride wore a sehra and groom put on henna. The groom has taken bride’s surname and will stay at her house. It’s because the groom Sukhminder has a brother and a sister who can take care of his parents but bride Baljeet has only three sisters, all of whom are happily married and there was no one else to take care of her aging parents. Sukhminder agreed to the idea which would extend lineage of Baljeet’s family. But, shall we be content with the pace? No, not at all. Considering that women participating in Parliament’s of third world countries like Rwanda and Cuba is at 56 and 49 per cent, India at 11.23 per cent has lot of catching up to do. Let the light spread!

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR AKSHAY PATRA : NOBLE GESTURE Dear Sir, The article on Vrindavan made a good read, particularly for people like me who are attacted to, and visit the holy city at regular intervels. The Akshay Patra is an extremly impressive venture. It is a noble gesture to prepare food for school children. The true value of religion and mantras (Hare Kishna) is to be involved in positive activities like these. Naman Kumar, Chandigarh

GOOD WRITE UP Dear Sir, Thearticle‘Usha:DawnofaRevolution’ was extremely informative. It helped me to understand the women power in Sulabh better. I met Ushaji at an event - The national summit of empowering women. She is an example of how well the movement of Mr Pathak has worked out, principally for women. Please publish more such reports. Siddhart Singh Yadav, Delhi

AWARENESS FOR CLEANLINESS Dear Sir, I think we should write and spread more awareness towards cleanliness. After reading the article ‘transforming a million lives’, I was touched that how Mr Pathak had made all this come true. After reading, I come to know all the effects made by Mr Pathak for stopping of manual scavenging, helping widows, helping scavengers, construction of Sulabh toilets, helping children and working for the movement of Swachh Bharat. Even after all this working he himself

participate in the cleanliness programs. Venkat krishnan, Chennai PROUD OF OUR DAUGHTERS Dear Sir, After reading the article ‘Pakistan stumped by Ekta’, I felt proud of our daughters, who are often not given their due rights in society. Projects like ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ can really change the way we bring up the female child. I wish to congratulate Ekta and her family for their achievement. I also congratulate you for bringing such encouraging news to the readers’ notice. Ujwal Agrawal, Noida, Uttar pradesh WATER SCARCITY : WARNING BELL Dear Sir, The article on Ayappa Maasgi was a serious warning to us about water scarcity. We take inspiration from such news and try to recognize the lifesaving role of water resources. Ayappa Maasagi is the true hero for all whom he has helped and inspired to follow the path of selflessness. Mohamad Kasim, Lucknow

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18 Photo Feature

MARCH 12, 2017

HOLI in Vrindavan


Sulabh International has introduced colours and gaiety in otherwise staid and colourless life of widows spending their sunset years in the streets of Vrindavan. Mukesh Kumar has captured the Holi mood vividly...





1. Two widows, drenched in Gulaal, clicked in a tight embrace as if they are close friends 2. Its not only Holi celebration but also enactment of Krishna Leela 3. The opportunity to dip in colours leads some to ecstacy 4.Sulabh International head Dr Bindeshwar Pathak too joins in. 5. A young widow immersed in a pool of fragrant flowers 6. An old lady overjoyed with revelry breaking into dance 7. Vrindavan widows playing Holi with flowers instead of colours



MARCH 12, 2017



Photo Feature








8. Happiness of the widows gets reflected on their beaming faces 9. The Vrindavan Holi attracts lot of foeign photographers who want to take a slice of this colourful festival, even if it means getting drenched themselves 10. The white saree of widow in the hues of rainbow 11. A bird’s eyeview of the Holi scene in Vrindavan where everyone is drenched in colours, gulaal & flowers 12. Riot of Colours: Who says, pichkari is only for chldren? 13. Widows applying floral colours on Dr Pathak’s face 14. After colours, the gala feast 15. A face draped in colours

20 Women Gandhians

MARCH 12, 2017



Gandhi had sculpted many creative experiments concerning women from 1916 to 1947. It is interesting to note that the women of today are following the same principles of the Gandhian era PREM PRAKASH

Kasturba plays a very valuable and decision making role in Gandhi’s basic lessons Vijaylakshmi Pandit’s life is a culmination of Gandhian ideology and modern day Prabhawati has herself opted to take a Bhramacharya vow, and JP later supported her

the driving force of the freedom struggle and actively participated in it and many a times she decided to go to jail, in spite of being cautioned by her husband. She brought into force the new teachings of by Gandhi. She was a powerful soul and an inspiration to Gandhi. It was none other than Kasturba who was the role model in proposing and promulgating the use of charkha as well as the cleanliness mission. Gandhi also made a note of it in many of his discussions. We can say that Kasturba’s life has been an example, be it related to education, discipline, health as well as the basic lessons pertaining to Gandhian ideology, and she set up the benchmark and became a driving force culminating in the freedom struggle with boldness and firmness.


FTER returning back to India from South Africa, Gandhi toured the length and breadth of India for almost an year, after which he became quite active in politics, which gave birth to the freedom struggle against the British. It also paved the way for non-violence movement and women’s empowerment. Keeping in mind the Indian traditions, beliefs and feelings it is a matter of pride that women also joined men in large numbers and in one accord on Gandhi’s call. He has sculpted many creative experiments relating to women and the spinning wheel (charkha) during the period 1916 to 1947. The beauty of these experiments was that he considered self help and women’s empowerment a part of his non-violence movement instead of taking it up as a different issue. He knew about the level of patience and coordination that a woman has and this perspective was carried forward from Dr Annie Besant to Sarojini Naidu and Prabhavati to Dr Sushila Nair in their own special ways, which was very encouraging and helpful to the masses. This was an example of women’s empowerment and one of its kind wherein women, instead of competing with men, opened up avenues for themselves, thus contributing in the building of the society and the nation as a whole. They followed the Gandhani path during the time when a lot was talked about molestations and restoring their pride, and it was then that these women burnt the midnight oil and worked relentlessly to make things happen in letter and spirit. BA –WOMAN EXTRAORDINAIRE Gandhi accepted about his wife Kasturba (11 April 1869-22 February 1942) that she was a woman extraordinaire who was more resolute and even bolder then him. If we look at the career graph of Kasturba we find that apart from being the better half of Gandhi, she was also


Gandhi accepted about his wife Kasturba that

she was a woman extraordinaire who was more resolute and even bolder then him

FROM PARLIAMENT TO COMMISSION Durga Bai Deshmukh (15 July 1909-9 May 1981) is one of the many personalities whose life was inspired by the ideology of Gandhi. May be this was the only reason which prompted her to take part in the freedom struggle as a social activist, lawyer and a politician. Apart from being a Member of Parliament she was also a Member of the Planning Commission. In this way we see that she was instrumental in spreading the light of the Gandhian ideology in the field of women and child welfare as well as rehabilitation of the neglected people which is priceless. She also played a significant role in laying the foundations of Central Welfare Development Board. Not only did she motivate women to propagate nonviolence but also held important positions from time to time on these fronts to solve the problems related to modern day women. She like Gandhi considered women as a family who craved for its progress and betterment. ETHICAL & LITERARY PROWESS Nightingale of India’ Sarojini Naidu (13 February 1879-2 March 1949) was not only a freedom fighter but a great

MARCH 12, 2017

poetess. Her historical meeting with Gopal Krishna Gokhale was the turning point of her life. Gokhale also impacted the life of Gandhi after his return from South Africa, Sarojini Naidu held the realms of the Non-Cooperation Movement against the British and emerged as an ethical and literary powerhouse. People used to talk about rural women as far as women’s empowerment is concerned owing to the Gandhian ideology, but this was not so with Sarojini Naidu. On the contrary, she felt that an educated lady can look after her family, her society and thus will be able to play an important role in nation building. Initially, she was a little bit hesitant about the Gandhian ideology, the non-violence principles in the context of the Indian society, but later she became a spokesperson of the Gandhian ideology. SUCHETA’S SERVICE Sucheta Kripalani (25 June, 1908-1 December, 1974) had worked with Gandhi during the partition riots. She emerged as a Congress leader much before independence. She was elected as a Member of the Drafting Commission of the Constituent Assembly. Post independence, she was made the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. It was said about Sucheta that though her life was impacted by Mahatma Gandhi, he also had learnt many things from her. It is said that Acharya Kripalani and Sucheta Kripalani were good friends and they wanted to get married. But Gandhi was against their marriage due to some reasons. Perhaps he felt that after marriage their life will become restricted to themselves and they will not be able

to serve the society. But Sucheta kept this proposal of marriage before Gandhi, which brought an end to all the misconceptions. Gandhiji’s ideology and principles were not for others but one which motivates us for introspection of our lifestyles. REFLECTIONS OF NON VIOLENCE Jawaharlal Nehru’s sister Vijay Lakshmi Pandit (18 August, 1900–1 December, 1990) belonged to a rich and famous noble family who took part in the freedom struggle. On Gandhiji’s call for Civil Disobedience Movement she had to go to jail. She was a secure lady. She represented India in many seminars and delegations in foreign countries. She was the first Indian who represented India in the United Nations Human Rights Commission. She was the first ambassador of independent India and represented the country in Moscow, L ondon and Washington. She viewed India and her cultural traditions and society through the Gandhian vision and hence played a vital role in forming India’s image post independence. Modern day interpreters feel that we can see the coordination of Gandhian ideology and modern environment which reflects on the non-violent values, reflections of which can be seen in the modern day India.

Women Gandhians

Known for her work in the Theosophical Society and Indian Home Rule Movement, Annie Besant (1 October, 1857-20 September, 1933) was born in London. She was instrumental in spearheading the women’s empowerment movement which Gandhi had started on the Indian soil. After coming to India, Annie Besant fought for the rights of women. She put an end to the age old traditions, wherein women were not allowed to come out of their homes and to live their lives independently. She was also instrumental in pressurising the British Government for giving the right to vote to Indian women. By way of her efforts Gandhi’s message reached the whole world, that the Indian woman is resolved to take part in the freedom struggle for which she needs no outward inspiration.

by her dedication and devotion to service, and in the same manner Prabhawati was also impacted by Gandhiji. It was Prabhawati’s initiative to take the brahmacharya vow, to which Gandhiji acceded. When JP came back from America in November 1929, Prabhawati went and met him at Patna and told him about the brahmacharya vow which she had taken. JP was taken by surprise but later, he stood by her and resolved to help her fulfill this vow. Later on JP took part in the Samajwadi Movement and the Bhoodaan Movement. During this period, Prabhawati independently propagated the use of charkha amongst women. In a way she became a teacher to JP at home. She was motivational force to bring about the elements of patience and discipline in the ever so busy life of JP, inspired by which many women of Bihar have joined the Sarvodaya Movement.

JP’s PRABHA All those people who must have met Jai Prakash Narayan at his house ‘Mahila Charkha Samiti’ at Patna would have seen how women were taking care of education as well as that of small scale industry. It is interesting to know that Jai Prakash did not have a house of his own and he used to live with his wife Prabhawati Devi in her house where her organisation Mahila Charkha Samiti was functioning. It is very difficult to find such a relationship elsewhere. When Jai Prakash was pursuing his studies in the US, Prabhawati used to stay in Gandhiji’s ashram and he was very much inspired

FROM SARLA TO RADHA Gandhi is not alive today, but his principles are and are a source of inspiration to all those who are treading on the path of non-violence and self development. From Bihar’s Sarla to Uttaranchal’s Radha there are innumerable women who are seen clad in handloom sarees and are forging ahead with this handloom industry which was either started or suggested by Gandhiji. Needless to say, we should also not forget the women who were under the influence of Acharya Vinobha Bhave. The outstanding thing about these women was that they were helpful in bringing about an intellectual, moral and religious change and making these reach new heights a glory.

Vijay Lakshmi

Pandit was the first Indian who represented India in the UN Human Rights Commission



22 Women Writers

MARCH 12, 2017

Jhumpa Lahiri’s book The Namesake explores the joyful trauma of a carrying mother

A glance at some of the prominent women writers in India then and now.


INDIAN WOMEN WRITERS The women writers, especially of fiction, in India have come of age and moved away from self-pity ANUPAMA YADAV


HE Canadian poet and author Margaret Atwood once said ‘A word after a word after a word is power’. Write what should not be forgotten. Write about emotions you fear the most. Write to taste life twice in the moment and in retrospect. Write because you love to shape your stories, sentences and creation of different words on a page. A lot has been expressed by women writers in India. Amidst all prejudices, barriers of language or region from bygone days to now some known and few not so known but there work speaks louder than ever today. It can’t be denied that the image of

women in fiction has undergone change during the last four decades. Women writers have moved away from traditional portrayals of enduring, self sacrificing women towards conflict, female characters searching for identity, no longer characterised and defined simply in terms of their own victim state. A major preoccupation in recent Indian women writing has been delineation of inner life and subtle interpersonal relationships. In a culture where individualism and protest have often remained alien ideas, marital bliss and women role at home was central focus. Women presentation is more assertive, liberated in their view and more articulate in their expression than the women of past

JHUMPA LAHRI For her fiction is something that goes beyond the scope of mundane trials and tribulations of characters. Perhaps much beyond than just portraying a story but significantly depicting the political and social scenario of that time, born in 1967, in London, Lahiri was the daughter of Indian immigrants from West Bengal. She grew up in Kingston, Rhode Island, where her father Amar, worked as a librarian. Her mother wanted her children to grow up knowing their Bengali roots, and the family frequently visited relatives in Kolkata. Lahiri faced rejections at the beginning of her literary career. Her debut short story collection, Interpreter of Maladies, was released in 1999, after a long wait. Four years later, she published her first novel, The Namesake, set against a Bengali family facing the hardships of migrating to the U.S. SHASHI DESHPANDE Shashi Deshpande’s novel ‘A matter of time’ is journey of her exploration into many facts of feminine experience in writing. In this novel she has portrayed theme of silence, gender differences, passive suffering and familiar relationships into much deeper realms. A story encompassing three generation of women coming to terms with their life in and all female worlds. The relation women characters share with their men is homered with silence, absence or indifference. The pain of disintegration of the family troubles Aru, who consider herself for her father’s action and sets out to undo it. It is in this smothering atmosphere the characters evolve and come to a newer understanding of their lives. The role of fury and destiny are playing as main themes around which Deshpande weaves her tale. Deshpande explains role of fury in her words, “I thought of Puradars’s line, the hour strikes and I was terrified. I stopped believing in the life I was leading suddenly it seemed unreal to me and I know I could not go on. ’’ Deshpande’s simple yet powerful prose reads like a grandmother’s tale that pierces the deep into heart and settles. At one point, the use of omniscient narration teases the reader as the speaker forces

events but is not to share until time and plot unfolds it. Deshpande’s ‘A Matter of Time and Salman Rushdie’s’ Fury ‘both novels spun around theme of existential fury. Deshpande brings Rushdie’s novel out from howling New York City to a calm and mediating Karnataka and his hills in the gaps a reader might have had left craves for. The underlying theme in Shashi Deshpande’s novels is human relationships especially the ones that exist between father and daughter, husband and wife, between mother and daughter. In all relationships, the women occupy the central stage and significantly, the narration shifts through her feminine consciousness. In her novels, three types of suffering women characters reoccur with subtle changes. The first type belongs to the protagonist’s mother or the mother figure, the traditional woman, who believes that her place is with her husband and family. The second type of woman is bolder more self- reliant and rebellious. She cannot confirm to mythological, submissive and surrender vision of womanhood. As radical feminist, ideology expressed, for example, Sarah’s friend in the ‘Dark Holds No Terror’. The third, type of women characters, are the women in between neither traditional nor radical in their ideas and practice, for instance, Indu in ‘Roots and Shadows’, leaves her husband to seek refuge in her ancestral home. Being a woman herself, she sympathises with women. As Shashi Deshpande clarifies in one of the interviews about feminist approach in her writing, “If others see something feminist in my writings, I must say that it is not consciously done. It is because the world for women is like that and I am mirroring the world.” ARUNDHATI ROY The other famous and renowned novelist is Arundhati Roy, born in 1961 in Bengal. Arundhati grew up in Kerala. She trained herself as an architect at the Delhi School of Architecture but abandoned it in between. She believes that, “A feminist is a woman who negotiates herself into a position where she has choices.’’ The international community knows Arundhati Roy as an artist with her debut novel The God of Small Things.’ ‘The God of small things’ won Britain’s premier Booker prize,

Snapshots Amidst all the prejudices of bygone days, works of women today speaks volumes They have moved away from portrayals of self-sacrificing, enduring women Tjhere is a clear shift to conflict and women trying to find their own identities in sociaty

MARCH 12, 2017 the Booker McConnell in 1997. Roy is the first non-expatriate Indian author and the first Indian woman to have won this prize. She is between the two Indian writers writing in English who has won the Booker Prize(the other one being Salman Rushdie for his ‘Midnight Children’.) Arundhati has never admitted that she is a feminist but ‘The God of Small Things’, reveals at many places her feminist stance and her protagonist represent feminine sensibility. Arundhati Roy’s mother says, “Arundhati is a born talker and a born writer. While, she was studying in school, it was a problem to find a teacher, who could cope with her voracious appetite for reading and writing. Most of the time, she educated herself on her own. ANITA DESAI Novelist short story writer and children’s author Anita Desai was born in 1937 in Musssorie. She is unquestionably one of the celebrated Indian English fiction writers. She holds a unique place among the contemporary women novelists of India. She has published ten novels and other literary works of immense value. Anita Desai’s women characters in her novels rebel against patriarchal community in order to explore their own potential or to live on their own terms, regardless of the consequences that such a rebellion may have on their lives. They take the position of outsiders to fight and criticize those cultural ideologies that come in their way of becoming free individuals, self chosen withdrawal, for these women, takes on the form a weapon for survival in a patriarchal community. Desai’s women, thus, want freedom within the community of men and women , as it is the only way that will succeed in fulfilling them In fact, Desai’s model of an emancipated woman , the protagonist Bimala in the novel ‘Clear Light Of Day’, is an unmarried woman. Her married women characters like Maya in Cry, a Peacock, Monisha in The City, Nanda in Fire in the Mountain, and Sita in Where Shall We Go This Summer? They either lose their sanity or kill others, or they kill or destroy themselves. The nemesis of these women is not a private one but an outgrowth of the complex social context, immediate family environments and the relationships with their men. Many of Desai’s protagonists are portrayed as single women. Desai does not neglect the institution of marriage or support alienation from society. Some of her women characters, like Tara in ‘Clear Light of Day’, do achieve contentment in their marriages Instead, through Bimala, Desai points to a kind of feminist emancipation that lies in not limiting women to their traditional roles but in expanding and awakening them to several other possibilities. Their kind of life, apart from being invigorating, also frees them from dependence on men. Bimala, through her individual freedom, exemplifies Simon De Beauvoir’s description of an

independent woman in her book. The Second Sex, where she asserts that, “Ceases to be a parasite, the system based on her dependence crumble; between her and the universe there is no longer any need for a masculine mediator.” As Anita Desai says, “I don’t think anybody’s exile from society can solve any problem. I think the problem is how to exist in society and yet maintain one’s individuality rather than suffering from a lack of society and a lack of belonging.” Anita Desai’s first novel, ‘Cry, The Peacock’ is concerned with its chief protagonist Maya’s psychological problems. As a young sensitive woman, Maya wish to love and to live. She makes up the mind of her father, Gautama who is much older than she is. Maya is haunted constantly by the rationalistic approach of her husband to the affairs of life. Maya loves Gautama passionately and desires to be loved in return; but Gautama’s coldness disappoints her. The root of the entire novel lies in the prophecy of albino astrologer, who creates a fear psychosis in Maya’s mind, his prophecy becomes troublesome to her unconscious mind. Anita Desai works on revealing the varying mental states, psychic observations, inner motives and existential pursuits of man. She succeeds fully in breaking non-grounds for her fictional art among her contemporary while dealing with the predicament of man and his social and moral dilemmas. Desai like Kafka unfolds the existential traits of man in society. She analyses a man in action in order to reveal his hidden motives behind the facial reality of conscious mind.

Katha, the last part of her trilogy, have become more self-centred than, the women of earlier generations, like Satyvati and Subarnalata in Pratham Pratishruti and Subarnalata respectively. More importantly and ironically, Ashapurna Devi finds that their freedom has not brought them closer to other women. She advocates a re-vision of traditional community where the relations between men and women and between older and younger women are not based on the subservience of one to the other, but where women enjoy the same rights and privileges as men in an affirmation of human values. KIRAN DESAI Kiran Desai born in 1971 is an Indian author who is citizen of India and a

Women Writers


descriptive analysis of globalization, terrorism, and immigration. When she received the Booker Prize for the novel in 2007, Desai became the youngest female writer to win the award. MAHADEVI VERMA She is the well known Hindi poet of Chaayavad school of Hindi Literature. Often called as modern Meera, she achieved Jnanpeeth award in 1982, born in the family of lawyers in 1907 in Farukkhabad ,Uttar Pradesh. She completed her education in Jabalpur. She was highly influenced by the values preached by Buddhist culture. She even attempted to become Bhikshuni. She was epitome of child prodigy. She wrote beautiful poems and also made sketches of her poetic work such as Deepshikha and

An Indian Indian living in the US, Anita Desai has published 10 novels and other works

ASHAPURNA DEVI Ashapurna Devi was focused on the revival of a reformed traditional womanhood that would accommodate women’s need for self-expression. Like Desai she considers education of women to be of utmost importance. She does so because she sees women, and not just men, as agents of female oppression. Therefore, she is more critical of women than men, who she feels are able to dominate women because dependent and insecure older women like mothers and mothers-in-law help them to do so. In her Trilogy,‘Pratham Pratishruti’, Subarnalata and Bakul Katha. Ashapurna Devi traces the progression of the feminist movement from colonial to postcolonial periods in India. She finds that the contemporary, educated and economically independent women, like Bakul in Bakul

permanent resident of the USA. Her novel ‘The Inheritance of Loss’ won the 2006 Booker prize and the National Book Critics Circle fiction award. Her first novel ‘Hullabaloo’ published in 1998, won ‘Betty Trask Award’, a prize given by the society of Authors for the new novels by citizens of the Common Wealth of nations under the age of 35. While working on her second novel, Desai lived a roving life that took her from New York to Mexico and India. After more than seven years of work, she published The Inheritance of Loss(2006). Set in India in the mid-1980s, the novel has at its centre a Cambridgeeducated Indian judge living out his retirement in Kalimpong, near the Himalayas, with his granddaughter until their lives are disrupted by Nepalese insurgents. The novel also interweaves the story of the judge’s cook’s son as he struggles to survive as an illegal immigrant in the United States. The Inheritance of Loss was hailed by critics as a keen, richly

Yatra Deepshikha is one of her best works. She is also famous for her books of memoirs. In the year 1956, Government of India honored her by conferring the title of Padma Bhushan. MAHASHWETA DEVI “As I have been saying incessantly right to dream must be the fundamental right” said Mahasheta Devi at Jaipur Literary Festival in 2013. Besides, a prominent writer she was social activist. She herself turned the world attention from her writing to her political and social life. She was called “the mother of shabars”. In 1970’s she started writing for Sandesh, a famous children magazine by invitation of its editor Satyajit Ray. The people in her stories were migrant labourers, downtrodded, lowest of the low caste, landless labourers, poor abandoned women, tribals with no rights and those who exploited and abused them. Her plots and storyline was based on actual events.

24 Women Pratishtahan

MARCH 12, 2017



Journalists rarely shift out of their profession, but early in her career, Aarti Arun Ganacharya was bitten by the bug to do something for the poor and socially challenged, and she started her NGO



e take a path to reach a planned destination but sometimes we reach somewhere else. Sometimes the destination we reach by deviation is better, satisfactory and more fulfilling than we had decided for ourselves. Aarti Arun Ganacharya’s story somehow suits the above line. She was a journalist working with a newspaper. To do her stories, everyday she had to

meet many people belonging to all sections of society. She came across many families while dong her work. She came to know their problems on the ground level. She found whatever the family goes through the woman suffers the most. “Every family had their own problem, but at the basic level it was money. If a woman wants to hold a strong position she needs to be financial independent. There were plenty of problems regarding their health, security and physical sexual

Aruna gives complete primacy to two areas, women’s education and the grave threat of women’s cancers of breasts and ovaries

and psychological violence. For young girls along with others, education was a big issue,” says Aarti. Aarti was busy with her work but her mind was always occupied with the problems of poor people. She used to keep thinking about solutions to their problems. Initially, she used to keep sending these women to different NGOs according to their needs. Later on, she started working along those women with the help of NGOs but the result was not satisfactory. So, she decided to have an organisation of her own. It was 2006 when she started her own organisation with an aim of ‘an NGO for the women, of the women and by the women’. NOT JUST VOCATIONAL She started Mahila Shakti Pratishthan

Arti Arun Ganacharya used to work in a newspaper and would meet people from all sections She started an NGO which first staretd vocational training for women in many areas of work Now she is focussing on her next dream project, health and fight against women’s cancer

with vocational training. She started it with one programme but this included a lot in it. Aarti says: “I experienced a lot while working with different organisations and it really helped me in selecting my courses. I started with one programme but it was well planned and rightly designed. When I was designing it I had lots of things in my

MARCH 12, 2017

mind. I had to cater to women of all age groups and of all kinds of socioeconomic status. I knew it well, that if these women are given something of their interest, then alone they will learn efficiently and will grow their talents and deliver the goods.” Under her vocational training programme, she kept subjects like Journalism, Personality Development, Spoken English, Book Keeping & Accounting, Fashion Designing, Beauty Parlour, Soft Toys, Painting, Weaving, Handicrafts, Jwellery Making, Photography, Machine and Hand Embroidery, Candle and Agarbatti making, Light and Classical Music. She started it with large variety of personal training. She started her vocational training with just 150 students and now the figure has reached up to 12,000. Rohini Kulkarni was one of her first students who took spoken English as her subject. Now she is working as a teacher. “In my family women’s education was not taken seriously. Since childhood I had an urge to study further and lead my life independently. Although I was good at reading and writing English but speaking English was difficult for me. So I joined here for the Spoken English course. After completing this course I joined a school. Now it’s more than six years since I am educating kids. Apart from financial independence I get job satisfaction too,” says Rohini. Ariti told SSB , “Rohini is not the only one, lots of girls have got benefitted from here. Each girl has a different success story. Ulka Mokas is another girl. She opted for Journalism and now after working with different media organisations, she is the local BJP spokesperson. I meet timid, shaken girls with very low confidence when they join here. Once they complete the course and get into jobs, look at the confidence on their faces. They turn into strong, ambitious and confident young ladies. Their confidence inspires me to continue my journey.” Aarti saw that students are learning from here and utilising their talents

Women Pratishtahan

Her vocational training started with just 150 people, but now has as many as 12,000

and making handicraft. But, they don’t have idea where to sell them and earn a decent livelihood. Same was the situation with tribal handicrafts. Poor people don’t even know where to sell their stuff and what should be its price. So I started working in this area too. I initiated with Identification of Tribal Crafts and Art Objects. Most of them have a linkage with the cultural heritage of tribal communities of Maharashtra. Then, I systematically and scientifically documented indigenous tribal crafts. I located the traditional tribal craft groups and identification of skilled tribal artisans. Once this documentation was done, a design was developed in the tribal crafts programme. Although the people were doing it from many generations but they needed to be do it more skillfully, so I worked on improving their skill.” Now people are skilled, but what is the use of it? So she worked out tie-ups with concerned ministries of Maharastra government as well as the Central government. These tie-ups made her sufficient to guarantee employment for tribal women from SHG groups in craft production. “Still, providing jobs to all the trained women was not possible, so I trained them to establish their own entrepreneurship. Now, the government provides a market for these tribal artisans in important cities of the country as well as in the export market.” Aarti told SSB: “Doing all this was not at all an easy task for me. I had to fight for these people. It took lots of hard work and lots of time to reach up to here.” Mahila Shakti Pratishthan keeps organising many exhibitions in the areas of Maharashtra like Kolhapur, Sangli, Satara, Aurangabad and Nasik, etc. One artisan, Manu says, “I want to have this kind of exhibition all over India. We should get the chance to sell our products with ou own hands. So that,

we could ourselves feel the happiness of the buyer. This will motivate us to do better work and can give a deeper sense of satisfaction”. GOOD HEALTH A woman in the house can take care of each and every single person in the family. It’s the general tendency of most of the women to neglect their health. This is the reason when she visits a doctor it is generally late. Aati took it as her priority. In the rural areas of Maharashta health facility is not very sound. Aarti established welfare centers for women, destitute under-privileged and socioeconomically week and backward communities. These medical centers provide free check-ups, treatment and medicines. “We have tried to do a lot but still need to do much more. We are planning to have a big hospital here. In one campus, we will provide health services like pathology and histopathology, X-Ray, EEG, MRI, CT-Scan, Ultrasonography, Echocardiography and all.” This is the dream project of Aatri, and once it gets ready, people don’t have to go anywhere else for treatment. Mangesh from Sangli says, “It is really heart breaking if someone dies just for the lack of treatment facilities. Mahila Shakti Pratishthan has really helped a lot already. But this up coming project is of crucial importance for the healthcare of the people.” His eyes were moist when he was talking about it. Actually, Mangesh had lost his wife two years back due to blood loss. This hospital has brought a new ray of hope in his life. WOMEN’S CANCERS Mahila Shakti Prtishthan especially works on breast cancer and ovary cancer, as well as cervical cancer, the most dreaded ailmenst for women. Actaully these are the cancer threats


women face the most. Aarti say, “There are 70 million cancer cases in the world out of which seven million are detected in India. It’s a deadly threat so we concentrate more on it. We organise cancer detection camps and make women aware of its symptoms. Actually in both, whether its ovary cancer or breast cancer, generally women hesitate to talk about it. So the situation becomes dangerous.” The organisation is going to have a survey on this issue. It will cover urban, semi-urban and rural areas in and around the centre. Items in the survey are going to be age, sex, diet, education, surroundings, habits and complaints in the age group of 35 to 60 years in particular. It will have a target of 3,000-5,000 population yearly. It shall be an ongoing process and Mahila Shakti Pratishthan is planning to get involved in various other problematic areas of rural, semiurban and urban areas. ONLY AWARENESS CAN DO MIRACLES How ever many programmes you make, whatever plans you have but nothing will work till people are not aware. So Mahila Shakti Prtishthan has launched a programme to make people aware of their interests. This programme has been successful. Now, women are sending their children to get educated, particularly girls, by enrolling them in formal schools. They understand equal opportunity is must for the both girls and boys. This programme has given women an opportunity to break their isolation. The newly acquired awareness has enhanced their ability to solve family problems and learn new skills. Total awareness programmes on education have provided illiterate adult women, who have been denied access to formal schooling, with a great opportunity for reading, writing, increasing awareness levels and skills training. Women have got opportunity to have a word in the family. Awareness prohrams have played a significant role in improving the status of women within their own families. Whereas traditionally, women have little say in the family decision making, they, through participation in literacy programs, have begun to express their newly found self-belief in having say both within and without the family. Awareness programs on health in most areas have taken up health and hygiene issues. Here we do talk about health care and nutrition. So an aware mother can have a problem free family and healthy kids. Aruna is doing all this to make this earth a better place to live in. She doesn’t want anything from anyone. She just wants to see smiles on women’s faces.

26 Women Spiritual Leaders

MARCH 12, 2017


THE INDIAN SHAKTIS Any creation, preservation and awakening in this mortal world and beyond is not possible without the blessings from the feminine forces of the Universe. The women spiritual leaders are great examples. A look into the lives and times of some of them

It is believed that “Shakti” is the original creator, preserver and destroyer of the whole universe The mind is everything. It is in the mind alone that one feels pure and impure Don’t see if it is a man or a woman. Don’t see anyone different from own self

recorded by her disciples, including Swami Nikhilananda, Swami Tapasyananda and Swami Chetanananda. Though uneducated, Sarada Devi’s spiritual insight and utterances are highly regarded by scholars like Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, who writes, “We have bits and pieces of her exquisite remarks as testimony.” The Holy Mother said, “Practice meditation, and by and by, your mind will become so calm and fixed that you will find it hard to keep away from meditation. The mind is everything. It is in the mind alone that one feels pure and impure. A man, first of all, must make his own mind guilty and then alone can he see another man’s guilt. “I tell you one thing. If you want peace of mind, do not find fault with others. Rather see your own faults. Learn to make the whole world your own. No one is a stranger, my child; the whole world is your own.”



ROM time immemorial in Hindu Mythology and Shaktism, it is believed that Adi Para Shakti—the Goddess Devi—also known and worshipped by many names like “Adi Shakti”, “Parama Shakti”, “Maha Shakti”, “Mahadevi”, or even simply as “Shakti” is the original creator, preserver and destroyer of the whole universe. As per Shaktism, Adi Parashakti appeared as Divine Pure Eternal Consciousness - the divine zero feminine energy, which then manifested itself as prakriti. Goddess Lalita Tripura Sundari, the goddess of power, is considered as her saguna svarupa (Manifested form). That is, Lalita Tripura Sundari is the truest material form of the Goddess, possessing the three qualities (Sattva, rajas, or tamas). However, the Goddess Adi Para Shakti is also considered to be the truly supreme spirit without form (Param Atman). Being regarded as the “Absolute Truth” in Shaktism, she is the Great Supreme Being, and therefore, the source of all other goddesses. According to Shaktism, Goddess Adi Shakti lastly splits up as Maya (world of illusion), Mahamaya (the one who destroys the upfold of illusion) and Yogmaya (to connect one finally with the God) representating the three gunas of Tama, Raja and Satwa. So whether it is the formation of anything- be it material, life or spirituality, the presence of feminine energy is extremely important. The feminine energies are always present with us in the form of Mother Earth, Nature, Moon- the celestial Queen who reflects all the positive cosmic energies for our nourishment, our own physical mother who gives us birth and nourishes us, and time and again all the female spiritual Mothers, who take birth and sacrifice their soul’s journey so that humanity can shed off the illusion of Maya and move towards the pathways of Yog Maya and awaken their souls and uplift them. Here are few of them who have helped and are helping humanity to pass through the turbulent river of life.


Ma Sarada says “If you want peace

of mind, do not find fault with others. Rather see your own faults” SARADA DEVI: ADI PARASHAKTI Sarada Devi was born on December 22, 1853 in a Brahmin family as the eldest daughter, in the village of Jayrambati in present-day West Bengal. Sarada lived the simple life of an ordinary Indian village girl. She was the wife and spiritual counterpart of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, the 19th century mystic of Bengal. Sarada Devi is also reverentially addressed as the Holy Mother (Sri Ma) by the followers of the Ramakrishna Mission. She was one of the notable woman saints and mystics of her time. She paved the way for the future generation of women to take up monasticism and service as the means and end of life. In fact Sri Sarada Math and Ramakrishna Sarada Mission

situated at Dakshineswar are based on the ideals and life of Sri Sri Ma. Sarada Devi played an important role in the growth of the Ramakrishna Movement. According to her traditional biographers, Sarada Devi and Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, both lived lives of unbroken continence, showing the ideals of a monastic householder, which is unique. After Ramakrishna’s death, his disciples looked to her for advice and encouragement. The followers of the Ramakrishna Movement and a large section of devotees across the world worship Sri Sri Ma Sarada Devi as an incarnation of the Adi Parashakti or the Divine Mother. Sarada Devi did not write any books; her utterances and reminiscences have been

MA SRI ANANDAMAYEE: POORNA BRAHMA NARAYAN Anandamayi Ma of India was regarded as a Self/God-realised master. Sivananda Saraswati of the Divine Life Society described her as “the most perfect flower the Indian soil has produced.” Paramhansa Yogananda translates Anandamayi as “joypermeated”. Anandamayi was born Nirmala Sundari on 30 April in Kheora, Brahmanbaria District, in British India, in what is now Bangladesh. Her father was a Vaishnavite singer known for his devotion. From very early childhood, she showed signs that were peculiar. When she was barely two years old, she narrated the precise details of her birth, which suggests that she had arrived in a fully conscious state. From age 4, she would get into trances, especially whenever she heard keertan, the Bengali devotional songs. And at all times she remained unperturbed. In 1908, she was married to Ramani Mohan Chakrabarti of Bikramapur. She spent five years after her marriage at her brother-in-law’s home, where she was in a withdrawn meditative state most of the time. It was here that a devout neighbour developed a habit of addressing her as “Ma”, and prostrated before her morning and evening in reverence. Nirmala continued to perform household tasks, and also continued to practice silence, and was in a withdrawn state of ecstasy much of the time. These states began to interfere with her daily work. Her family called in ojha, or witch doctor, to cure her. But the ojha took a look at her and warned the family, saying they should not try to cure her because there is nothing to cure. In 1926, she set up a Kali temple in the Siddheshwari area and devoted herself to spiritual practices. She is perhaps the only

MARCH 12, 2017 known spiritual emanation who initiated (deeksha) herself. Once when she was asked: “Who are you?” she said, “Poorna Brahma Narayan.” This she repeated three times. Jyotischandra Ray, later known as “Bhaiji,” was an early and close disciple. He was the first to suggest that Nirmala be called Anandamayi Ma, meaning “Joy Permeated Mother”, or “Bliss Permeated Mother”. Anandamayi Maa never ordered anything, she consented to what other people desired, especially in rituals, etc. She would say, “You all desired This Body, so it is there.” And also, “I am like a drum. It will sound the way you play it. Several scholars and towering spiritual personages called her Maa and prostrated before her and said she was Devi Durga. She did cure some people of their physical and social woes, but in general she was against miracles. She conducted some very major yajnas for humankind and world peace. The late Indira Gandhi, former Prime Minister of India, Kastruba Gandhi, Pandit Nehru, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose were all her devotees. When she was ill in 1982, the Shankaracharya of Dwarka visited her and requested her to call for a doctor. But she said: “This is merely the call of the Infinite.” She was given a Samadhi in Kankhal, near Haridwar. MATA AMRITANANDAMAYI DEVI: THE HUGGING MOTHER Mātā Amritānandamayī is an Indian guru from Parayakadavu (now partially known as Amritapuri), Alappad Panchayat, Kollam District, in the state of Kerala.Born to a family of fishermen in 1953, she was the third child. Amritānandamayī gathered food scraps from neighbours for her family’s cows and goats, through which she came face to face with the intense poverty and sufferings of others. She would bring these people food and clothing from her own home. Her family, which was not wealthy, scolded and punished her. Amritānandamayī also began to spontaneously embrace people to comfort

them in their sorrow. Despite the strong reaction of her parents, Amritānandamayī continued her social work. Regarding her desire to embrace others, Amritānandamayī commented, “I don’t see if it is a man or a woman. I don’t see anyone different from my own self. A continuous stream of love flows from me to all of creation. This is my inborn nature. The duty of a doctor is to treat patients. In the same way, my duty is to console those who are suffering. Amritānandamayī rejected numerous attempts by her parents to get her married. Instead, her life took a completely different turn. In 1981, after spiritual seekers had begun residing at her parents’ property in Parayakadavu in the hope of becoming Amritānandamayī’s disciples, the Mātā Amritānandamayī Math (MAM), a worldwide foundation, was founded. In 1987, at the request of devotees, Amritānandamayī began to conduct programs in countries throughout the world. In July 2015, Amritanandamayi delivered the keynote address at a United Nations Academic Impact conference on technology and sustainable development, co-hosted by Amrita University. The event was attended by delegates from 93 international universities. In Amritanandamayi’s address, she requested the scientific community to infuse its research with awareness and compassion, stressing the importance of keeping the aim of uplifting the poor and ameliorating their sufferings in mind when undertaking technological research. Amritānandamayī’s form of giving darshana is unique- hugging people. As to how this began, Amritānandamayī said, “People used to come and tell [me] their troubles. They would cry and I would wipe their tears. When they fell weeping into my lap, I used to hug them. Then the next person too wanted it... And so the habit picked up.” Amritānandamayī has embraced more than 33 million people throughout the world for over 30 years. Amritānandamayī said: “Jivanmukti is not something to be attained after death, nor is it to be experienced or bestowed upon you in another world. It is a state of perfect

Amritānandamayī (right) said: “Jivanmukti is not something to be attained after death, it can be experienced here and now in this world


Women Spiritual Leaders


Mother (left) summarised her yoga. Living inside the ordinary mind, man faces struggle... coming out of it, one knows God

awareness and equanimity, which can be experienced here and now in this world, while living in the body. Having come to experience the highest truth of oneness with the Self, such blessed souls do not have to be born again. They merge with the infinite.”

and their entire brood of expectation, irritation, frustration, disappointment, pain, etc. Coming out of the ordinary mind, one would expect that he would come out of all these constrictions; but Mother says, coming out of it one knows God.

MIRRA ALFASSA, THE MOTHER Mirra Alfassa, known to her followers as The Mother, was the spiritual collaborator of Sri Aurobindo. Her full name at birth was Blanche Rachel Mirra Alfassa. She came to Sri Aurobindo’s spiritual retreat on March 29, 1914, in Pondicherry. Mirra Alfassa was born on21 February, 1878 in Paris to a bourgeoisie family. Mirra had learnt to read at the age of seven and joined school very late at the age of nine; she is believed to have held interest in various fields of art, music, sports etc. Mirra had various occult experiences in her childhood but knew nothing of the subject and their relevance. She recalled that in her early teens, when she was barely 13 or 14, she had a vision of a dark figure whom she had never seen earlier and whom she had endearingly called Krishna. In 1893, after graduating from school, she joined Académie Julian to study art. She recalls herself being a complete atheist at that time and was against any religious claim on the existence of God, but had developed an urge to know about such experiences and found ‘Raja Yoga’ by Swami Vivekananda highly illuminating. Mirra married Paul Richard in 1911 . On 24 April 1920, Mirra returned with Richard to Pondicherry and met Sri Aurobindo at his house. Initially, Mirra was not totally accepted by other inmates of the house and was considered an outsider. Sri Aurobindo considered her to be of equal yogic stature and started calling her as “The Mother”; from then onwards, she was known to all the inmates as “The Mother”. Around 1924, the Mother started to organise the functioning of the inmates and slowly the house was turned into an Ashram with a steady stream of followers pouring in everyday. Mother summarised her yoga in terms of life. She says, to know God it is enough to come out of the ordinary mind. The ordinary mind presides over life and pervades it. Living inside the ordinary mind, man faces struggle, the prospect of failure,

NIRMALA DEVI: SAHAJA YOGA Dr. Shree Nirmala Srivastava (née Nirmala Salve), also known as Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi, was the founder of Sahaja Yoga, a meditation technique. She claimed to have been born in a fully realised state and spent her life working for peace by developing and promoting a simple technique through which people can achieve their own selfrealization. Shri Mataji was born in Chhindwara, Madhya Pradesh, to a Hindu father and a Christian mother, Prasad and Cornelia Salve. Her parents named her Nirmala, which means “immaculate”. She said that she was born self-realised. Shri Mataji descended from the royal Shalivahana/Satavahana dynasty. She passed her childhood in the family house at Nagpur. In her youth, she stayed in the ashram of Mahatma Gandhi. Like her parents, she was involved in the struggle for Indian independence and as a youth leader, she was jailed for participating in the Quit India Movement in 1942. Shortly before India achieved independence in 1947, Shri Mataji married Chandrika Prasad Srivastava, a high-ranking Indian civil servant who later served Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri. Nirmala Srivastav was deeply disturbed by the damage being done to society by the so- called ‘false gurus’. Nirmala Srivastava experienced in herself the rising of her Kundalini. She described the experience as follows: “I saw my kundalini rising very fast like a telescope opening out and it was the beautiful colour that you see when the iron is heated up, a red rose colour, but extremely cooling and soothing.” Soon after she founded Sahaja Yoga in Mumbai. Nirmala established the ‘International Sahaja Yoga Health and Research Centre’ at Mumbai in 1996. During her lifetime, Nirmala Srivastava gave numerous public lectures and interviews to the print and electronic media. She left for her eternal abode on February 23, 2011.

28 Women Photographers

MARCH 12, 2017


Capturing moments! This was just a completely male world, the hustle bustle, chasing people and events with heavy cameras. But now the ladies are giving the men a run for their money



HETHER it is train, metro, park, hospital, mall or work place, it’s very common to see girls clicking selfies anytime and anywhere. Whatever different eye catching and funny things we go through are clicked. Whether there is get together, birthday party or any public gathering we are the one to save all the memories. Women and cameras have become one of the most popular topics for jokes. But jokes apart, when it comes to professional life it is supposed to be men’s work and camera shifts to their hand. As this profession demands creativity, focus, speed and strength too, so it is supposed to be a men’s job. But there are a few women who challenged the men’s sovereignty, sometimes with their creativity, sometimes with courage and sometimes with their morale. SARASWATI CHAKRABARTY Saraswati was working as a steno when she got a pass to watch Republic Day parade. It was 1977, and she had her seat at a place from where she could see the protected area for photographers. She noticed there are

Sipra Das had to somehow find the bread and butter for the family, and she came into photo journalism, till then a man’s world

only male members in that arena. Then and there she decided, she decided to take up photography. She started spending time with photographer friends and learned the required skills. She borrowed a camera from one of her friends, and the journey begun.

She says, “My first photo was published in newspaper ‘Matri Bhoomi’. Then I got my first assignment that was to cover Asaian Games. My work during Asaiad was recognised and appreciated. Almost 245 photos were published in different publications. During the opening ceremony of Asaiad, Indira Gandhi was there to light the torch. I captured her in my camera and was coming down from the stairs, when I heard a male voice saying, ‘we will see for how many days she will survive like this’. This only helped harden my resolve.” After this she managed to get a PIB card and joined PTI. She had to go through tremendous hardships and struggles in her life and career, both, but whatever was the condition, she never gave up. Even after 44 years her journey still continues. SIPRA DAS Sipra Das was the bread earner for her family. She says, “No motivation, no inspiration, It was my need which

Snapshots Though there were women who did photography as a hobby, there were no professionals Now there are many professional women photographers in the country With their courage, creativity and skills, they have gradually earned the respect due to them

propelled me to photography. Anyhow, I had to earn the bread for my family. Before photography I used to write for many publications and then started getting assignments on photography. When I started, it was just a job for me. With passing time even I don’t know when it turned in to my passion.” Sipra started her career with Anand Bazar Patrika, along with it she used to do freelance work. Talking about the struggle in her career she says, “Today technology has made our work easier. We can accommodate N-number of pictures just in a small chip. But in our times it was not so. We had to use film cameras and had to develop the photographs on our own. A small negligence was enough to destroy the whole effort. Once it was ready it had to be rushed for dispatch.” It was too tiring and struggling job. Still, where she was expecting praise she received disapproval. Ssipra says: “These challenges, difficulties and sufferings turned me into a stoic personality and gave me the courage to fight with all aspects of life.” Sipra feels challenges are still there but advanced technology has reduced it. Her first love is writing, so she wrote a book ‘The Light Within’. It was read widely and appreciated. She says to the young generation, “If you

MARCH 12, 2017 have the calibre to struggle and is ready to do hard work with creativity within you, then only enter this field. There is no glamour in it.” SARVESH Sarvesh got married when she was doing her graduation. It is the general age at which girls in India get married. She was not ready for it, though but was forced into it. She was aspiring to become a lawyer. But, she

was married to a family where she was treated as a machine to fulfill all the needs of family members. Her husband used to mistreat her. She knew, this man who throws tantrums would not even be able to protect her when she will need. And that is what happened. She says, “One day I was cleaning my balcony. Some waste dropped over a man passing below. I apologised but he didn’t listen to me at all. He insulted me and threatened me. But my husband did not even try to intervene. That was my last day in that house.” After leaving her house she started working, and then a friend gifted her a camera. This camera became the turning point in her life. She started taking snaps. Sarvesh says: “I got recognition while covering the Kargil War. At that time I was even awarded by the central government. Hundreds of pictures were published in different newspapers and magazines.” Sarvesh had also covered the Uttarakhand disaster. Sarvesh has two hobbies; one is travelling and another is shooting. She has received silver medal in a recent shooting championship organised in Hyderabad. She is also writing a book “The Perfect Frame”, which is based on the lives of women photographers. RENUKA PURI Renuka is working with a leading newspaper. She says: “I love my job, I enjoy my job.” Unlike others she has no

Women Photographers


Sarvesh left a traumatic marriage and started out own her own and then a friend gave her a camera, which turned her life around

complaints about her work and work environment. She never found her work different from others. “As other works do have challenges same is with us. Just that we need to carry heavy equipments. It’s a kind of work where your talent is clearly visible. Reporters can write the story but we have to be in the field and we can’t share our photos. So your pictures will speak of your efforts.” She says to upcoming photographers “If you want to be successful in journalistic photography, you can’t afford to be choosy. You have to be open for any assignment and have to perform well.” ARPITA BERA Arpita is working for a newspaper in Kolkata. She says “My work never allows me to get bored. We have challenges every day but once we overcome them, it gives tremendous happiness. This is the reason, beside all the challenges, that I never gave up my job.” There are very few women in this field, but they are important as women look at the world with a different p r e s p e c t i v e.

So, they click photos with different angles and thoughts. So, more women should come to this field. “As more women would join this, our workplace difficulty would reduce on its own.” UMA KADAM In the world of female photographers we have a name from Mumbai that is Uma Kadam. For the past 15 years Uma is working for different media houses. Uma says, “Photography is a

very powerful medium. It can bring magical changes. Once I clicked a photo of garbage piled near Dadar station. It was published in a newspaper. That time Bala Saheb Thackeray was alive. He saw that, and although it was a Sunday, still he called the mayor to get it cleaned and the work was done. S o ,

one photo can bring the difference which even thousands of written words can’t.” Uma feels this was always a challenging field but today when everyone needs an exclusive it has become really difficult. To deal with these challenges you have to be exceptionally creative as well as fit. You never know under what condition and situation you have to work. Uma likes digital technology but she does miss the analog style of photography. “When you develop your photograph with your own hands and it comes out well it gives you inner happiness and satisfaction,” adds Uma. RADHIKA RAMASWAMI Radhika Ramaswami is the first Indian women wildlife photographer. About her interest she says, “When I was in my 11th class my uncle gifted me a camera. We went to Bharatpur National Park with my family and then only I got inclined towards photography. Once I returned from there I started spending time in the Okhla Bird Sanntuary to understand the language and behaviour of birds. My family was happy with photography so, I just had to struggle with my profession.” Apart from all the Indian national parks, she has visited many beautiful counties like Kenya and Tanzania. She says: “To do wildlife photography you have to be well aware of the behaviour of animals and birds. For this you need to spend time in forests and read a lot

of books.” Wildlife photography is full of adventure. Here you need to do eye level photography. Apart from this, you need to be very careful while moving in forest areas. Radhika has her expertise in bird photography. Till now she has captured around 1,300 bird pictures from all over India and 8,000 different beautiful birds from other countries. Radhika is in this profession for the past 15 years. NEHA BISHT Neha does hold a camera but she makes videos with it. She is working with a 24 hour news channel where, of course, video is her priority but one more important work is taking bytes. “You have to struggle hard to fix your mike at the right place in the middle of all the mikes from different media houses. People used to ask me, will you able to do it in such a crowded place? My work answered them. In every crowd I made my space. I do it so quickly and perfectly that people get astonished.” After saying this Neha laughs. Her laughter shows her confidence and happiness of being a winner. But she did not always have this win- win situation. After doing mass-com she aspired to be a cameraperson. But she never knew that the path to her dream is full of struggle. For two years, she did internship in a production house without earning a penny. After that, she worked as camera assistant in the same firm and earned her first Rs 600. Neha smiles and says, “During Anna Hazare’s movement I worked for continuous eleven days in all shifts without a break for a national news channel. They paid me Rs 36,000, a princely sum. That day I was very happy. After that I kept freelancing for TV serials and documentaries.” Neha says, “Never work for happiness, work happily and you will be successful.”

30 Celebrity Holi

MARCH 12, 2017


Rare is the person who does not play Holi. The festival of colours is a hot favourite with people, young and old. Naturally our stars are not to be left behind. They will celebrate with aplomb on March 13. Here are some expressions of joy, and also some caution from the reigning TV stars.

Studded i l o H

SSB BUREAU SUPRIYA PILGAONKAR Holi is all about an array of colours and water and personally I’m very fond of the festival, as it is said that it takes away all the negative energy. As a Maharashtrian, there are special dishes prepared at my home such as Puran Poli, Katachi Aamti, Phirni and many more which adds to the excitement of this colourful festival. This year on Holi, my family and I will play a dry Holi. As a message to all my fans have a happy and safe Holi and avoid playing with water. GAUTAMI KAPOOR Holi is a festival of colours which brings people of all castes, creed and culture together to spread happiness and joy. However, my humble request is that kindly be aware of the water crises and let’s be

conscious and not waste water! Instead, let’s work towards conserving water and celebrate Holi this year with dry and eco-friendly colours. RITHVIK DHANJANI My earliest memories of Holi were of all the rowdy boys in our small town back home throwing anyone and everyone who got out of their houses into dirty and muddy water, with a lot of water balloons on people’s home windows as well! This year though, I will be working in the US during

s also a r a t s e h t ugh e else, o n h o t y , i n l a o h e Lik fond of playing ll be either greatly ear wi y s i h t m he some of t oad or on the sets abr

Snapshots Holi is the festival of colours and is played at the onset of the spring season in India Most stars play Holi, some with their felow stars and others with their families But a few of them have stopped playing Holi nowadays looking at the way it is played today

MARCH 12, 2017

Holi, but will definitely attend some Holi events there. DEBINA BONNERJEE This year, it’s going to be quite a spontaneous plan I am sure, and besides that it will just be a small celebration with mom and dad at home and applying some gulaal rang on each other. AASHKA GORADIA Nowadays after seeing the way people play Holi, I just don’t step out of my house at all and completely avoid celebrating the festival! Which is also because me being committed to being eco-friendly, I do not want wasting any water. NANDISH SANDHU My best Holi memories were the ones celebrated in my childhood back home in Rajasthan with my entire family and a bunch of close friends. This year, I don’t really have any Holi plans to be honest, but if something does come up end moment, I might just join in. SHAHEER SHEIKH When I was a kid, me and my friends used to go to the terrace with water balloons. We used to wait for the people to come on the street so that we can throw balloons at them. This year I don’t have anything special planned for Holi because I usually do not play it. Till now, I have celebrated this festival only on set, so probably this year also I will be playing with colours while shooting.

Celebrity Holi

staying back on my skin.” While Vidya is religious about oiling her hair and skin, Deepika isn’t much different either as she too uses coconutbased oil for protection against colours and dust.“I usually massage my hair with coconut-based hair oil. It not only protects my hair from the harsh colours and chemicals but also provides nourishment,” Deepika said. “For my skin, I moisturise well and use sun screen before I set out to play Holi. This helps me in removing the colour from my skin more easily and protection from the sun,” she added. The festival has been one of Deepika’s favourite since childhood. As she says, ““It’s Holi, one of my favourite Indian festivals. I love it because it is all about having unadulterated fun with friends, family and even strangers. I remember celebrating the festival when I was a kid. I used to play Holi with friends from my building every year. I loved playing with colour and gobbling up the delicacies our mothers made. And of course, no Holi celebration was complete without music. It was all about getting together, laughing and enjoying with the people you love.” But due to commitments to her films, it’ll be a “working Holi” for her. Speaking about her favourite Holi song, the actress said: “I know they are my own songs but I have to admit that “Balam pichkari” and “Lahu muh lag gaya” are my current favourite.” Shraddha, whose favourite Holi memory used to be joining the mega-bash at Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan’s house on the festival, will celebrate this Holi with her ‘Hasina’ crew. Like Deepika, Shraddha also considers “Balam pichkari” as her favourite Holi song. Speaking about hair and skin care for the festival, she said: “A ritual I have been following since years is applying adequate oil on my hair -- given that colours are bound to damage my hair. Pre-Holi, I make sure to moisturise my skin well.” “Heropanti” actress Kriti Sanon, who is set to celebrate her first Holi after her Bollywood debut, will be celebrating the occasion with her family and considers “Rang barse” as her “universal Holi anthem”.

s of im t ic v t s ir f e th Hair anditshkincoaurluers, so two of theatop Deepik playing w d n a n la a B stars, Vidya e, give tips Padukon

SHAKTI ARORA Holi is one of the major festivals and is the most vibrant of all. The joys of Holi know no bounds and the festival is filled with so much fun and frolic. I don’t play much with colours but I completely enjoy the sight of people drenched with water and gulaal. As a message to all my fans, have a safe and happy Holi and please save water.

GAUTAM RODE Holi is one of my favourite festival and I love playing it every year but this time I have made a promise to myself that I will only play dry Holi. I urge my fans to conserve water and play waterless Holi. ERICA FERNANDES This year I wish, I get an opportunity to see a Hollika bonfire where I can sing and dance as I have never seen that. I wish everybody a colourful and waterless Holi. HARSHAD ARORA The festival of Holi can be regarded as a celebration of the colours of unity and brotherhood -- an opportunity to forget all differences and indulge in pure fun. I hope everyone has a Holi which is filled with happy moments and colourful memories which they will be able to cherish forever.

RIDHIMA PANDIT I am looking forward to celebrating Holi with my two dear babies, my niece and my nephew. Even though I don’t play with water and colours, I love to watch my niece and nephew indulge in these festive colours. COLOURS AND CARE! There’s no getting away from playing Holi even for the cine stars like Deepika Padukone and Vidya Balan. But the fact remains that Holi, with all the gulal and water colours is a messy affair, especially for the skin and hair. Here are some vital tips from them. Vidya, who will play Holi “with friends” this year, says her “fondest memory” of the festival dates back to the time when she used to fill up balloons with her father. “My fondest memory is that of my father filling balloons with water early in the morning. We’d go up to the terrace and throw balloons at each other,” Vidya said in a statement. The ‘Dirty Picture’ and ‘Kahaani’ actress’ favourite Holi song is “Rang barse” and “Ab ke saawan”. Talking about her modus operandi on the day of Holi, she said: “Before Holi I make it a point to oil religiously and protect my hair from the colours and the dust. Even for skin I apply oil so that there are less chances of the colour


32 Unsung Heroes UNSUNG HEROES

MARCH 12, 2017



Food Safety Commissioner of Kerala, TV Anupama has almost put an end to adulteration of food substances in the state


V Anupama, who bagged the fourth spot in Civil Services Examination (CSE) in 2010, has put a check on food adulteration business in Kerala ever since she took office as Food Safety Commissioner in Thiruvananthpuram. Anupama has conducted numerous raids around the state and has almost put an end to adulteration in Kerala. Ever since her childhood, it was Anupama’s dream to become an IAS. After graduating from BITS, Pilani, one of the most prestigious engineering colleges in the country, she decided to

crack the CSE. She worked hard for it, but didn’t expect to land such a high rank. Currently working as the Food Safety Commissioner of her home state Kerala, her first few years were mostly swamped in the humdrum of planning and streamlining the department’s working. Since the Department of Food Safety was set up only in the year 2011, she had to deal with nitty-gritties of establishing a new department. The crackdown started a couple of years ago, when Anupama conducted some raids and found out about the illegal practices being carried out in Kerala.

That followed a number of raids and checks uncovering food adulteration and pesticide overuse. Laboratory tests showed the pesticide quantity present in some fruits and vegetables, was more than 300 per cent of the safe limit. A pesticide dose this high is extremely dangerous for human beings. One of the main cause of such fast proliferation of cancer is consumption of chemicals and pesticides. This made her resolve more steely. Within 15 months of her first raid, she had filed around 750 FIRs against food





Lata Mangeshkar is in the spotlight again but not for winning the ‘Legendary Award 2017’ but for her undying love for her fans

o matter how hard they try, geniuses like Lata Mangeshkar can never stay out of the view for a long time. She was out of the news for the past couple of months, but came back to hog the limelight with a bang. Winning the ‘Legendary Award’ 2017 by ‘The Brand Laureate’ she was once again back in talks. Expressing her gratitude for the award she tweeted, “Heartfelt thank you to ‘The Brand Laureate’ for honouring me with the ‘Legendary Award 2017.” She has never strived for attention or recognition, yet she has been given numerous awards and honours for her exemplary work over the years. However, she lives for the love of her fans. She later tweeted, “I have lived through a gratifying career for which I am and will always remain in deep gratitude to all my well wishers.” She started her career back in 1942, singing in Marathi. Later, she came to limelight singing Hindi songs. Her first Hindi song was ‘Pa Lagoon Kar Jori’ in the 1946 movie Aap Ki Seva Mein’. However, her first major break was the song ‘Dil Mera Toda’ in the movie Majboor. Lata Mangeshkar has not only been a celebrated singer ever since began her career, but has attained the status of a legend. The latest award, thus, suits her to a T.


CAPTAIN’S LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT Former Captain of Indian Women’s Cricket Team will be bestowed the BCCI Lifetime Achievement Award

adulteration products, ceasing up to 6,000 adulterated samples. While on the job, she also found out a way to immediately avoid the use of such products. She started promoting her findings online. As her posts were picked up by the mainstream media and published regularly, people became cautious about buying food off the market. It was a tough job dealing with the adulterators since the department is new and doesn’t have a proper infrastructure and manpower. She explains, “Many things used to happen on a day-to-day basis. There is no ready or quick-fix solution to such issues because we hadn’t done it before. We know things like harmful pesticides are used. But how do we go about it? People consume vegetable daily.” She adds: “You can’t just ban them. We need another kind of solution. We spoke about it, made presentations at meetings, but the rest was done by the government or public. People started becoming aware, and we continued lifting samples.”


he former captain of India’s women team Shantha Rangaswamy was recently nominated for the CK Nayudu Lifetime Achievement Award. Soon she will be the first woman to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the BCCI Annual Awards in Bengaluru on March 8. Rangaswamy is the first to captain the Indian women’s cricket team and has spent most of her life playing cricket, but due to lack of people’s interest in women’s cricket those days, India did not play a single International match between 1977-84 and again between 1986-91. Hence, only 12 years of her 22 years career was spent playing for India. “At this stage of my life, the award is not much relevant for me. I would say it is small step for me but a giant leap for women’s cricket,” said 63-yearold Rangaswamy drawing analogy from Neil Armstrong’s iconic quote. She has played Women’s Test Cricket for India in 16 matches, captaining the side in eight matches in 1976-77 and four in 19834. She also played in the 19 Women’s One Day Internationals from 1981-2 to 1986, captaining the side in 16 matches. It was also under her captainship that the Indian women cricket team won their first test series.

Joint Commissioner of Police (Licensing) Delhi No. F. 2 (S-45) Press/ 2016 VOLUME - 1, ISSUE - 12 Printed by Monika Jain, Published by Monika Jain on behalf of SULABH SANITATION MISSION FOUNDATION and Printed at The Indian Express Ltd., A-8, Sector-7, NOIDA (U.P.) and Published from RZ 83, Mahavir Enclave, Palam-Dabri Road, New Delhi – 110 045. Editor Monika Jain