The Torch-bearers of Change
The International Women's Day, observed on March 8 every year, acknowledges the achievements of women and brings their problems in limelight. Normally, on this day the entire show is stolen by the high profile women or by the celebrities and the women who are really reshaping the destiny of the society working silently in remote areas are unrecognised. They are the torch-bearers of change that the country needs today. They carry out different constructive activities while discharging their family responsibilities too. Here are some torch-bearers who have shown the way:
Deedi and Amma for thousands of Vivekananda followers
Dr M Lakshmikumari, the former president of Vivekananda Kendra, Kanya-kumari and presently the director of Vivekananda Kendra Vedic Vision Foundation (VKVVF), Kodungallur, Kerala, is a scholarly activist who embraced a life of perfect ideological path led by Swami Vivekananda. Dr. Lakshmikumari, Deedi for thousands and Amma for several other thousands, opted the path of propagating the philosophies, ideologies and ideals of Swami Vivekananda and translating them into action.
From the childhood itself, Lakshmi Deedi cultivated a spiritualistic style in her life. Close association with Swami Agamanandaji played a catalytic agent in it. But, a chance of meeting the legendary Eknath Ranade, former Sarkaryavah of RSS and former Organising secretary and later president of Vivekananda Kendram, Kanyakumari, changed the destiny and style of Deedi’s life. She started as the Vice Chairman of Vivekananda Kendra’s Delhi unit. She joined as president of the national committee in 1980 and then became national president in 1982. During that period she also served as the Editor of the Yuva Bharathi and Vivekananda Kendra Pathirka (1982-1995). The camps conducted and maximum number of school were launched in North East during that time only.
Now, despite the age and ill health, she heads VKVVF. At VKVVF she encourages Vedic studies, Sanskrit, publish Vedic literature, conduct seminars, etc. Sandeepani Sishuvihar, a KG school is also there. Lot of women with traumatic backgrounds are getting care and counseling there.
Empowering women, empowering future
Women as candles of love, faith, trust and hope enlightes the lives of people and place herself in pain and sacrifice. It has been proved rightly by Smt Kanta Sheoran of Bhiwani (Haryana). As head of Mahila Kalyan Jagriti Samiti, she fought against many issues in Haryana accompanying with a group of women and young girls from the villages. They believe an educated family starts with an educated woman.
Being a single parent and a victim of crime herself, she decided to raise her voice against pre-natal sex determination and female foeticide. Smt. Sheoran has been recognised by one of the India’s largest read daily for her contribution for women in Haryana. Also, she got awarded by District Collector for her campaign ‘Kanya Bachao, Bhroon Hatya Hatao’ campaign against female foeticide.
‘I believe women are the strongest living creature and have the right to live their life with independence’ said Smt. Sheoran. Strong determination creates a benchmark, truly said and proved. Women are the positive source to teach the ethics of moral, social and cultural values for the future generations.
A legal warrior against distortion of history
Whenever there is any onslaught on Indian ethos, values of life, a lady gets active without wasting any time. Her solid arguments forced not only the Government of India but also many government departments to rectify the wrongs they have caused to Indian history. The latest feather in her cap is the withdrawal of Wendy Doniger’s controversial book The Hindus: An Alternative History by Penguin Books. Yes, we are talking about Supreme Court advocate Monika Arora.
An advocate with zeal and passion, dedication and commitment, she has filed many Public Interest Litigations on various issues ranging from banning posters in Delhi, Nirbhaya rape case, to removal of insulting passages in books against Hindus, raising voice against corruption, for Hindi, Sanskrit language, etc. Nayaya Bharti,a trust headed by Monika provides legal aid to the poor and needy especially women and the downtrodden sections of the society.
Gender: No barrier
Coconut tree climbing and pollination has been men’s territory so far, since the practice involved considerable drudgery and the risk involved. But, women in Kerala have stepped into this territory also. Trained by Central Plantation Crops Research Institute, Ksasargod, women serve as skilled coconut pollinators.
These women have learnt the steps in coconut pollination with ease and carried out the work with confidence. Time taken for completion of pollination work by women pollinators was same as that of male workers.
Providing houses to homeless
Under a mini Bharat concept Smt Pratibha Acharya of Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh, has developed a village of 280 families at one acre land. Homeless destitute and economically deprived families have been provided plots in the village at a very nominal monthly installment. Apart from providing houses to the homeless, Pratibha also make people self-reliant by providing them financial help and necessary training.
At the time of her marriage in 1991, Pratibha Acharya did not have her own house. But she thought of providing houses to the homeless. She borrowed Rs 80,000 from a regional rural bank and purchased 11,000 sq. ft. land in Kraiyakhera. She provided plots to some homeless families at the rate of Rs 35 sq. ft on monthly installments from Rs 100 to 500.
Dedicated to the cause of social development
Ms Sushila Mishra is an eminent social worker of Pratap-garh, who is especially dedicated to environment protection and women development. She is a postgraduate with a degree in teacher training. Even though she discharges her duties of a housewife diligently, she has never been oblivious of her social responsibilities as well. Sushila began her career as a teacher, but later switched over to social activities through her organisation ‘Adarsh Mahila Evam Bal Vikas Sansthan’ of which she is the honorary director.
Innovative vegetable farmer of Karnataka
Smt Chennamma of Antarahalli village in Bangalore has set a precedent for women engaged in farming to scale new heights by adopting innovative skills. Chennama motivated other farmers in her own and neighbouring village. She visited and interacted with Scientist of IIHR and procured the seeds. She started growing improved varieties from 2006. She also actively guides other farmers in adoption of new technologies. She has also started a hybrid green long Brinjal from IIHR. The key to her success seems to her eagerness to learn and understand very quickly including hard work & positive attitude.
(Inputs from Venugopalan, Monica Sangwan, T Satisan, Sangita Sachdev, Dr SK Pandey)
Rashtra Sevika Samiti, the premier women organisation of the country, appealed to the people of the country not to be trapped in the anarchist activities being conducted by the people with vested interests. “We should ensure that our social system should not collapse due to the anarchy being created by such elements. The nation is strong until we follow and preserve our values of life. We all should remain committed to this task,” said the Samiti in a resolution adopted at the recent Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha meeting held in Coimbatore from February 7 to 9.
In another resolution the Samiti hit at the Congress-led central government for its soft stand on sex education, gay culture, live in relationship. At the time when many western countries are turning to self-restrained culture and are saying good bye to the consumerist and open sex culture, some elements in India are trying to impose it on our people. The marriage system was created to curb anarchy and to regularise the social behaviour. It not only makes the life better but also prevents people from many incurable diseases. But some people, allegedly with the help of the government are trying to demolish the marriage system. The country will not tolerate it, the resolution warned.
The Samiti welcomed the Supreme Court verdict upholding Article 377 and condemned the UPA government’s attempts to criticise the Supreme Court decision. “It was astonishing to see the alertness of the government on the issue especially when it is not ready to act on the vital issues like corruption, black money, terrorism, naxalism etc. despite the entire nation repeatedly warning it,” the resolution said.
Life with dignity
Is that too much to ask for?
Advocate Monika Arora
I salute the ordinary woman. She gets up early, cooks for her family, packs food for her children and her husband. Thereafter, if she works somewhere, she goes by public transport and does not want to be touched or mould or leered on her way. At work she wants to be treated with dignity. In the evening she comes home tired but has to do all the domestic chores herself. She wants to be respected by her husband and does not want to be hit or abused. She deserves to be safe at home and outside. She deserves a life of dignity. Is that too much what she is asking?
Question remains: How much freedom is to be given to a woman? The range of this freedom oscillates like a pendulum between a woman clad in burqa and seeing the sky through its net. Cannot breath in open air. Cannot venture out without a man. On the other side, we have the image of a western woman who says “meri marzi” – many of whom have revolted against the family system, the idea of having children, any kind of bondage. Betty Frieden, the feminist writer wrote in “The Feminine Mystique” that after breaking all the chains, the woman has moved forward. However, the same writer after a few years in “The Second Stage” described that the woman had moved forward but had left behind broken homes, broken lives and a world without a companion and without peace.
Woman in the West got right to vote much later than in India. Woman in the USA got right to vote in 1920, in Britain in 1928, in Switzerland in 1971. They were not even considered as “person” in Canada until a long time. In the National Referandom of 1959, the men in Switzerland said “NO” to right to vote for women. The Roman Christian Vatican State which is akin to Kingdom of God still does not give right to vote to women.
However in Bharat the idea of woman is the idea of mother, shakti, janani. Inspiration is Rani Laxmi Bai who rode the horse with a child on her back, a sword in her hand, fighting the Britishers. Hence women of Bharat know their responsibility of the house and family on the one hand and duties towards society on the other.
Vivekananda stated that in the West the idea of woman was that of a wife but in Bharat the idea of woman was that of a mother.
India is a land where it is believed that Gods reside where women are worshipped. However 16.12.2012—Nirbhaya rape case shook the entire country. The issue of sexual assault/ rape came in public domain. The Tsunami of youth, men and women, brought about changes even in law. Due to unprecedented and overwhelming response to Justice J.S. Verma committee inviting suggestions to the existing laws- Indian Penal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure, Indian Evidence Act were amended. However, sexual assaults and rapes did not stop. Efficient, fair and speedy justice is still a far cry. However, this young vibrant India with more than 60 per cent of population comprising of youth has given a wakeup call that it will not take things lying down. India has to change. The institutions have to be more responsive. But merely legal reforms are not going to help. Social reforms wherein there is no discrimination between a boy child and a girl child, dowry problem, participation of women in decision making process in the house, in sharing of responsibility of women by men has to go side by side.
Women require equal opportunity.
Kalpana Chawla (Astronaut), Mary Kom (Boxing Champion), Fathima Beevi (First Woman Supreme Court Judge in Asia), Kiran Bedi ( 1st IPS Officer), Indira Nooyi (President of Pepsico), Nirupama Rao (India’s foreign Secretary) are only a few names to demonstrate that the globe becomes a small canvas to paint if equal opportunity and encouragement is given.
Hence, the present day woman neither wants to be put on the pedestrial of Devi, nor wants to be hit, abused and degraded like a doormat. What she is asking for is a life with dignity – is that too much to ask for.
(The writer is Advocate of Supreme Court)
Rahul knows nothing about this nation and the society: Rekha Raje
“Rahul Gandhi don’t know anything about this nation and the society. That is why whenever he speaks he invites embracement for his party. This is the reason people have stopped taking him seriously. Better he should know this country and the society before leading his own party,” said Rashtra Sevika Samiti Akhil Bharatiya Sah Karyavahika Rekha Raje while commenting on the Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi’s remarks that RSS does not respect women. Rahul made these remarks while addressing a women’s conference at Tumkur in Karnataka on February 16. While targeting the BJP he said the BJP and RSS do not respect women and their ‘ideological sangathan’ has no place for women.
“Since inception the RSS has focused on moulding the characters of boys, while the Rashtriya Sevika Samiti focused on character building of girls. Since both the boys and girls require separate methods of training due to their physical requirements, we have been doing this separately. But ideologically we have no difference. We may be seen following separate tracks but the ultimate objective of both of us is the same i.e. restoring pristine glory of this nation and developing the people of high character. We are basically complimentary to each other,” she said while talking to Organiser. She also said that neither RSS nor Sevika Samiti needs sermons from people like Rahul Gandhi to respect women.