Wednesday, August 13, 2008
My Favorite Indian Women on Independence Day
With the Indian Independence day approaching, wanted to pen down my thoughts on the changes that women (being the feminist that I am) in India have gone through.
There was a time when women's successes were measured by their being an efficient wife, a loving mother and caretaker to the other members of the household. Besides this role, came the added responsbility of how she was viewed in the eyes of the society- meaning did she have the right kind of attitude towards earning and self-reliance, did she hand over her earnings to the male head of the family without personal savings, did she carry out the honor of the family by following religious beliefs and adhere to cultural traditions etc. An unmarried woman after a certain age, a broken marriage or a woman unable to have a child were all measures of how successful a woman's performance in life was, unlike a male whose life in most of these scenarios remains untainted.
With globalization in the changing times, Indian women have broken the glass ceiling (in corporate environments) and are changing their behaviors and value systems. Today, women are willing to make sacrifices for the sake of their careers and are doing a fairly successful job of balancing both family and career lives. I guess this is also part of a free and independent progessive India that was the vision of several freedom fighters and thinkers.
Here are some women, who, in my eyes, are truly successful in their roles and responsibilities and serve as inspirational role models for the rest of us.
Kalpana Chawla, a NASA astronaut who made a mark in history by rocketing into space. Coming from a traditional family in Karnal, India she pursued her ambition amidst all obstacles and came to US to study aerospace engineering (MS and PhD) and advanced her career by starting out at NASA. She married an American Jean Pierre Harrison and continued to pursue the skies. Unfortunately, her life ended on Space shuttle Columbia in 2003 prior to the landing. A daring Indian woman whose aspirations were sky rocketing is worth remembering at this time.
Sudha Narayanamurthy, known to many as the wife of Infosys founder Narayanamurthy is a blend of the educationalist com social reformer. An avid writer and a full-time social worker contributing to the upliftment of several villages in rural India through the Infosys Foundation. Besides, being the founder trustee for the organization, she has been instrumental in bringing about true change in the lives of children for their education and in providing medical assistance to the poor. An IISC Bangalore graduate who has really made a difference in the current India.
Visaka Hari is a popular harikatha exponent reciting sangeetha upanyasam (musical discourse) of various Indian epics. She is the daughter-in-law of Sri Krishna Premi Anna of Paranur and married his first son Sri Hari Anna. Visaka who is an all Indian rank holder in her Charted Accountancy exams has dedicated her life to pursue her passion of spreading beautiful, melodious harikatha discourses to audiences in India and abroad. Her traditional attire in nine-yards sari, simplicity and the way with which she narrates stories that captivates her audience, be it a small child to an old man, marks her identity as a cultural ambassador for South Indian heritage. She is truly divinity personified at its best.
All these women are exceptional in their own way and have created a niche in today's independent India. I would be happy to hear some of your favorite Indian women, who you feel have made a difference in your lives.