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Thursday, March 7, 2019

appreciating Women you know ! ~ International Women's Day 2019

In some ways this is a western concept – marking a day and attaching all importance to it. Our literature has good place for women and traditionally we are taught to respect elders and mother. Our moral stories are replete with instances of obeisance to mother and femininity holding them in high regard; yet 8th Mar would be a special day –
Women’s Day.

In Nov 2014, Our Prime Minister Narendra Modiji, on a visit,  gave his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott a rather interesting gift ~ and to us something to glance through the annals of history – connected to an Australian lawyer and novelist by name John Lang [1816-1864]… and this has direct reference to a great Indian woman ?  ~ yes, Jhansi Rani.

In ODIs, in Gwalior in 2010 – Sachin became the first man to score a 200 (against South Africa); after that first breach, few more followed torrentially – VirenderSehwag 219 (WI 2011); Rohit Sharma 209 (Aus 2013);  Rohitsharma 264 (SL 2014); Chris Gayle 215 (Zim 2015); Martin guptill 237* (WI 2015); Rohit Sharma 208* (SL 2017); Fakhar Zaman 210* (Zim 2018) – is there something to talk about a woman here ? 

Can you think of one sport where men and women compete against each other as equals? – in Tennis – the mixed-doubles !!Stumped?  It is  horse racing, where female jockeys regularly jump in the hot seat alongside their male counterparts ~ and it is not riders alone .. it is the horses too.   The horses carrying them towards the finish line are locked in their own battle of the sexes.  One of the most remarkable champions the racing world has ever seen also retired recently- a  female thoroughbred called Black Caviar. The Australian mare notched up 25 consecutive wins, becoming not just a national sports star but a celebrity who even graced the cover of Vogue magazine.

When we think of famous women, to us Tamils, the first name that comes to mind is Avvaiyar, the saint-poetess of Sangam age, propagating the fragrance of Tamil literature and also speaking about morality and spirituality. She  was the classical fearless messenger between the warring Tamil kings and brought peace among them.  There are some views that perhaps Avvaiyar was not a single person, but there could have been three or even 4 of different ages.  The word "Avvai" denotes any elderly woman and the  Avvai of the Sangam period  gave us classic advice in the form of simple songs. Most famous is Athichoodi, Konraiventhan, Nalvazhi, Moothurai, VinayagarAgaval, NaluKodipadalgal.

Then there is Nobel Prize - in a list close to 900, there are  48 women, and 26 organizations.  Sixteen women have won the Nobel Peace Prize, fourteen have won the Nobel Prize in Literature, twelve have won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, four have won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, two have won the Nobel Prize in Physics and one, Elinor Ostrom, has won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. The first woman to win a Nobel Prize was Marie Curie, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903 with her husband, Pierre Curie, and Henri Becquerel. Curie is also the only woman to have won multiple Nobel Prizes; in 1911, she won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Curie's daughter, Irène Joliot-Curie, won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1935, making the two the only mother-daughter pair to have won Nobel Prizes.

Now some history ~  Manikarnika was married to the Maharaja of Jhansi, Raja Gangadhar Rao Newalkar, in May 1842.  Their son Damodar Rao, died early.  Maharaja adopted a child called Anand Rao, the son of Gangadhar Rao's cousin, who was renamed Damodar Rao, on the day before the Maharaja died. After the death of the Maharaja in Nov 1853, because it was an adopted son, British East India Company, under Governor-General Lord Dalhousie, applied the Doctrine of Lapse, rejecting Damodar Rao's claim to the throne and annexing the state to its territories. In March 1854, Lakshmibai was given an annual pension and  ordered to leave the palace and the fort.  She fought valiantly against the British and came to be hailed as ‘Jhansi Rani’ is history.

John Lang [refer para 2]  was born at Parramatta, Sydney; educated at Sydney College; went to Cambridge and returned to Australia as Barrister. In 1842, he came  to India and was successful as a barrister, taking on high-profile clients such as the Rani of Jhansi in her battles against the British East India Company.  Lang was a journalist too and in 1845 established a paper, the Mofussilite, at Meerut. He even learnt Hindusthani language. In 1854, Lang became Counsel to Jhansi Rani Laxmibai and represented her in her legal battles against the East India Co’s policy of land seizures under the infamous Doctrine of lapse. 

The woman who impressed me most was Mrs Bhagavathi teacherwho taught me in my 5th standard in Samarao School ~ those days, she used to come from Katpadi, certainly should have been an ordeal, yet would always come in time, was so friendly in shaping our career. One need not be a ‘Jhansi ki Rani to be adorable’ !  ~ every women you know possesses some special qualities – it is for us to recognise and appreciate them.   My post  is dedicated to my mother, sister, wife and ‘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.

Talking about double centurions in ODI – long before Sachin, it was Belinda Clark, Aussie who scored 229* in World Cup in India in 1997 against Denmark.  There is another women in that list too -  Amelia Kerr (New Zealand) 232* against Ireland in 2018.   Many may not know that the first ever Cricket World cup was played by women in 1973 [Men’s Prudential WC took place in 1975] ~ and two women Lynne Thomas and Enid Bakewell scored centuries. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
8th Mar 2019.

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