Sunday, March 8, 2020

Appreciating women .. .. 'Women's Day 2020'


Appreciating all Women we  know ! ~ International Women's Day 2020

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.

The day began with expectations but sooner the century partnership between - Bethany Louise Mooney & Alyssa Jean Healy made our hopes evaporate ! – the score card reads : Australia 184 for 4 (Mooney 78*, Healy 75, Sharma 2-38) beat India 99 all out (Sharma 33, Schutt 4-18, Jonassen 3-20) by 85 runs .  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.

                              According to Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, King Janaka of Videha Kingdom held a Rajasuya Yagna and invited all the learned sages, kings and princess of India to participate. The yagna lasted for many days. The galaxy of scholars, included the renowned sage Yajnavalkya.  There  were eight renowned sages who challenged him for a debate, which included Gargi, the only lady in the assembled gathering of the learned.  Gargi and Yajnavalkya's exchange centered on the ultimate "warp" of reality ("warp" means "the basic foundation or material of a structure or entity).  This is a post on ‘wonder woman’ ~ it would not require a Nobel for a woman to be impressive and an influencer    before you read further, this post is dedicated to all the Women known and those who influenced me – the list would start with my mother, sister, wife – my teachers at elementary school,  my female colleagues, my women bosses and my dear friends).. .. Can you connect : Vennira Aadai  a romantic film, directed by C. V. Sridhar,  produced by Chithralaya Pictures to some notable occurrence in Tamil nadu politics.

An organism's genes are stored within DNA molecules, which are found in chromosomes inside its cells' nuclei. When a cell divides, it is important that its chromosomes are copied in full, and that they are not damaged. At each end of a chromosome lies a "cap" or telomere, as it is known, which protects it. In 1980, Elizabeth Blackburn discovered that telomeres have a particular DNA. In 1982, together with Jack Szostak, she further proved that this DNA prevents chromosomes from being broken down. – and she was honoured in 2009.

Can you identify what brackets together :   Marie Skłodowska _______;  Pearl S. Buck; Maria Goeppert-Mayer;  Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin; Alva Myrdal; Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard; Elizabeth Blackburn;  Ada E. Yonath; Herta Müller; Svetlana Alexievich;  Olga Tokarczuk; Esther Duflo  ____ ,… … ..!!! – don’t worry much - The Nobel Prize and Prize in Economic Sciences have been awarded to women 54 times between 1901 and 2019. Only one woman, Marie Curie, has been honoured twice, with the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics and the 1911 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. This means that 53 women in total have been awarded the Nobel Prize between 1901 and 2019.

485 years ago this month in 1535 occurred the siege by Bahadur Shah who attacked Chittor Fort.  Rani Karnavati, wife of the late Rana Sangha fought valiantly, was expecting help from Humayun, who betrayed and .. ..   13,000 women including Rani Karnavati committed Jauhar and 3,200 soldiers committed Saka.    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.

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, Konrai venthan, Nalvazhi, Moothurai, VinayagarAgaval, Nalu Kodi padalgal.

Junko Tabei a Japanese mountaineer, was the first woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest, and the first woman to ascend all the Seven Summits by climbing the highest peak on every continent. Bachendri Pal in 1984 became the first Indian woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest and the present Govt awarded her Padma Bhushan in 2019.

Sir William Thomas Denison KCB (1804 – 1871) was Lieutenant Governor of Van Diemen's Land from 1847 to 1855, Governor of New South Wales from 1855 to 1861, and Governor of Madras from 1861 to 1866. Denison's first work was to reorganize the Sepoy army after the 1857 rebellion. He opposed separate armies for Bengal, Madras and Bombay and the introduction of Indians into the legislative councils in the presidencies and provinces. He condemned any ideas of self-rule and representation by Indians.   The Legislative Council was  established by the first Indian Council Act of 1861, enacted in the British parliament in the aftermath of the Indian Rebellion of 1857.   After India became independent in 1947, it continued to be the upper chamber of the legislature of Madras State, but was  abolished in 1986.

M. G. Ramachandran (MGR) nominated an actress, Vennira Aadai Nirmala (aka A. B. Shanthi) to the Council. Her swearing in ceremony was scheduled for 23 April 1986. Nirmala had earlier declared insolvency and according to the Indian Constitution, an insolvent person cannot serve as a member of parliament or state legislature. A lawyer named S. K. Sundaram, filed a public interest writ petition in the Madras High Court challenging Nirmala's nomination to the Council. MGR loaned Nirmala funds from ADMK's party funds to pay off her creditors, so that her insolvency declaration could be annulled.  Though the nomination became legally valid,  Nirmala withdrew her nomination to the council.  On 14 May 1986, a resolution seeking to abolish the council was moved successfully in the legislative assembly. .. .. and there are no MLCs in TN Assembly thereafter.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
8th Mar 2020.

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