Shriman Prakash Tripathi has written a rather long letter on the Narendra Modi App, urging me to touch upon the subjects he has referred to. He writes, “The 1 st of February is the death anniversary of astronaut Kalpana Chawla. She left us in the Columbia space shuttle mishap, but not without becoming a source of inspiration for millions of young people the world over”. I am thankful to Bhai Prakash ji for beginning his long letter with the sad departure of Kalpana Chawla. It’s a matter of sorrow for all of us that we lost Kalpana Chawla at that early age, but her life, her work is a message to young women across the world, especially to those in India, that there are no upper limits for Nari Shakti …. the power of women. If one possesses the will & the determination, a firm resolve to achieve something, nothing is impossible. It’s a matter of joy that women in India are taking rapid strides of advancement in all fields, bringing glory to the Nation.
In our country, respect for women, their status in society and their contribution has proved to be awe inspiring to the entire world, since ancient times. There has been a long tradition of Vidushis… women exponents or women champions. Many Vidushis of India have contributed in composing the verses of the Vedas. Lopamudra, Gargi, Maitreyee…it’s a long list of names. Today, we talk about ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’, ‘save the girl child, educate her’. But centuries ago, it has been mentioned in our ancient texts, in the Skand Puran :
दशपुत्र-समाकन्या, दशपुत्रान् प्रवर्धयन्
यत फलम् लभते मRर्य:, तत् लभ्यम् कन्यकैकया ॥
This means, a daughter is the equivalent of ten sons. The ‘Punya’ that you earn through ten sons amounts to the same earned through just one daughter. This underscores the importance that has been given to women in our society. And that is why, in our society, women have been accorded the status of ‘Shakti’. This woman power binds closely together society as a whole, the family as a whole, on the axis of unity & oneness. Be it the erudition of the Vidushis of the Vedic Period. Lopamudra, Gargi, Maitreyee; be it the learning & devotion of Akka Mahadevi or Meerabai, be it the governance of Ahilyabai Holkar or the valour of Rani Lakshmibai, woman power has always inspired us. They have always brought glory to the Nation.
Shriman Prakash Tripathi has further cited some examples. He writes that the flight of our courageous Defence Minister Nirmala Seetharaman in a Sukhoi 30 fighter plane is inspirational for him. He also refers to INSV Tarini, with an all women crew on board under the command of Vartika Joshi, which is currently circumnavigating the globe. Three braveheart women Bhavna Kanth, Mohana Singh and Avani Chaturvedi have become fighter pilots and are undergoing training on the Sukhoi- 30. An Air India Boeing jet with an all woman crew led by Kshamata Vajpayee flew from Delhi to San Francisco, USA and back. These are all women achievers. You are absolutely right. Today women are not just advancing in myriad fields; they are leaders. Today there are many sectors where our woman power is playing a pioneering role, establishing milestones. A few days ago, Hon’ble President took an initiative. He met a group of extraordinary women who have achieved something significanty new in their respective fields. Women achievers of our country… the first female Merchant Navy Captain, the first female passenger train driver, the first female fire fighter, the first female Bus Driver, the first woman to set foot on Antarctica, the first woman to reach Mount Everest… ‘First Ladies’ in every field. Our woman power achieved extraordinary feats, breaking the age old shackles of social mores, creating new records. They proved that through perseverance, grit and a firm resolve, all kinds of obstacles and barriers can be broken & crossed, to chart out an all new path… a path that could act as a beacon of inspiration not just to their contemporaries, but for generations to come. It will infuse afresh energy, newer enthusiasm into them. A book has beencompiled on these women achievers, first ladies, so that, the entire country comes to know about the power of these women and derive inspiration from their life work. This is also available as an e-book on the Narendra Modi Website.
The country’s woman power has contributed a lot in the positive transformation being witnessed in our country & society these days. Today, as we speak of women empowerment, I would like to refer to a railway station. You must be wondering what a railway station has got to do with women empowerment. Matunga station in Mumbai is the first station in India which is run by an all woman staff. All departments have women performing duties… the commercial department, Railway Police, Ticket checking, Announcing, Point persons, it’s a staff comprising over 40 women. This time, after watching the Republic Day Parade, many people wrote on Twitter and other social media that a major highlight of the parade was the BSF biker contingent comprising women participants. Daredevil stunts performed by them was awe inspiring for our foreign guests. Empowerment is another form of self reliance. Today our Nari Shakti is assuming leadership roles. It is becoming self reliant. By the way, this also reminds me of tribal women of Chattisgarh, who have done something extraordinary and set a remarkable example. When we refer to Adivasi women, a stereotypical image comes to our minds, comprising jungles, pathways in the woods and women carrying kindlewood on their heads.But the woman power of Chattisgarh, the tribal women there broke this stereotype & presented an all new picture of themselves. Dantewada in Chattisgarh is a Maoist infested region. Violence, torture, explosives, guns, pistols… the Maoists have created a scary reign of terror. In this dangerous atmosphere, Adivasi women are becoming self reliant by driving e-rickshaws. In a short span of time, a umber of women have become part of this phenomenon. This has three benefits- on the one hand self-employment has empowered them; on the other, the Maoist infested region is witnessing a transformation. And simultaneously as a consequence, it is strengthening efforts towards protecting the environment. I laud the efforts of the District Administration which has played a significant role in the successful endeavour of these women by ensuring availability of grants imparting training to them.
Sanjay Trivedi is honorary editor of Asia Times. He is senior Indian Journalist having vast experience of 25 years. He worked in Janmabhoomi, Vyapar, Divya Bhaskar etc. newspapers and TV9 Channel as well as www.news4education.com. He is serving as Media Officer in Gujarat Technological University, the university which controlling 440 colleges of Engineering, Management, Pharmacy & Architecture colleges in Gujarat.