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Friday, March 7, 2014

celebrating women - the famous Indian women - International Women's Day

Tomorrow is 8th March – sure there would be numerous posts on FB and social media celebrating the International Womens’ Day – getting excited……. On a web search there was this post on ‘25 power women and their inspiring stories’ – in India Today and predictably, the first in that list was Vidya Balan – because ‘she has toppled the all dominating hero, reducing him to a supporting role in a male dominated film industry’ ………. .  though Kiran Bedi, Nirupama Rao and others are in that list, it predominantly features – Ekta Kapoor and more from tinseldom…….. 

One can also find the news of US First Lady Michelle Obama felicitating Indian acid attack victim Laxmi after she won the International Women of Courage Award for successfully leading the campaign against acid attacks on women in India. Women day is certainly not all about – Reita Faira, Sushmita Sen, Lara Dutta, Aishwarya Rai, …………. There are many others who achieved, though not as famous – Reena Kaushal Dharkshaktu was the first woman to reach South pole and Sucheta Kadethankar was the first to have walked across Gobi desert.   Devika Rani was the first recipient of the prestigious film prize, the Dadasaheb Phalke Award.

Among the notable Indian women  achievers – is Rajkumari Amrit Kaur from the Princely family of Kapurthala who was the first Women Cabinet minister – she was the health minister in the Indian Cabinet for ten years after India's independence from the British Raj in 1947. … Ms Vijaya Lakshmi Nehru,  the sister of Jawaharlal Nehru, the aunt of Indira Gandhi  was however the  first Indian woman to hold a cabinet post. In 1937 she was elected to the provincial legislature of the United Provinces and was designated minister of local self-government and public health. She held the latter post until 1939 and again from 1946 to 1947. In 1946 she was elected to the Constituent Assembly from the United Provinces. (Ms Vijayalakshmi Pandit - photo source : wikipedia)

Aarti Gupta nee Saha  became the first woman from Asis to swin the English channel.  Koneru Humpy held the record as the youngest woman ever to become a grandmaster (not merely a Woman Grandmaster), which she achieved at the age of 15 years, 1 month, 27 days, beating Judit Polgár's previous mark by three months;however, this has since been surpassed by Hou Yifan.

Peeping into the annals of history Raziya Sultana was perhaps the first women  Muslim ruler of India;  although there could be more  women who ruled from behind the scenes. In Tamil’s glorious past, women garnered more attention and respect. They have held pride of place in Puranas and in Sangam literature. Sangam literature extols women for they had to play different roles in the family such as a dutiful wife, responsible mother and an ideal hostess to guests. Women’s education was also insisted during the Sangam Age.  
Avvaiyar at Marina taken on 8.3.14

A poem in Sangam literature which glorifies courage in battlefield goes thus – ‘ that a valiant mother who was distraught when told by people that her son retracted from the battle field and was killed but upon nearing the battlefield and knowing that he fought and died valiantly in the battlefield and did not run away saving his life, the mother felt happy’ ……. Yes happy at the time of death for it was one of valour.  This is a song in Purananooru, written by a Poetess known as ‘Kakkai Padiniyar’ also known as Nachellaiyar.

Purananuru is part of ‘Eṭṭutthokai’ in Sangam collection and widely believed to have been made hundreds of years before the Christian era.   Purananuru contains 400 poems of varying lengths; they are not attributed to a single poet and in fact more than score of poetess have role in them. Purananuru is a source of information on the political and social history of pre-historic Tamil Nadu.  Avvaiyar and Kakkaipadiniyaar are among the contributors to this.

My post would not be complete without reference to Cricket and hence - Shantha Rangaswamy – the gritty cricketer who captained India in 16 tests and was the first Women captain.  She scored a century in a Test against New Zealand, becoming the first Indian women to do so….. more prominent is Dr V. Shanta, a prominent Cancer specialist and the Chairperson of Adyar Cancer Institute, Chennai. Her work won several awards including the Magsaysay Award, and Padma Shri. She has been associated with Adyar Cancer Institute since 1955, and has held several key positions, including its Director between 1980-1997. She is a member of the World Health Organisation's Advisory Committee on Health and several other national and international committees on health and medicine. She is Member (health) of TN State Planning Commission.

Today’s post is dedicated to ‘all women known to me’ – ‘wishing you all happiness and all good things in life’ and may all of you be treated fairly in all places and not discriminated anywhere in every walk of  life. Happy Woman’s day wishes.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

7th Mar 2014.

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