India has always been known as a land of customs and traditions. Often, these same customs and traditions, are the factors that pull us back as a society. While the West took its first baby steps towards industrialization, India went through a series of changes in terms of rulers and their governments.
Although it might be true, that India was recurrently called the third world, some of the world’s greatest inventions and discoveries like Yoga and Ayurveda have taken birth in the same place. Today, thousands of years after the discovery of these sciences, we can see the worldwide impact that they have beckoned.
For the rulers who ruled India right from the 16th century up to the 20th century, the woman has always been a factor for interest for them. We are talking in terms of the unique amalgamation of legacy and innovation that the Indian women have showcased in the past few centuries.
India has been a country of deep-rooted patriarchy or man-led ecosystem. For numerous years, the man in the family was not only the sole bread earner but in turn also the sole decision maker. In such times, the women in the country have indeed been a victim of a society and culture which in many ways, did not consider them as equal citizens. The irony is that Hinduism, the religion followed by maximum Indians, has more goddesses than gods.
In this blog, we would like to trace the transformation of the Indian woman, from a housewife with zero or close to zero rights to a working independent woman, who is indeed leading by example today. To understand this transformation, let us have a look at the past two decades, which have been earmarked by a transformational change in the Indian economy and in turn the Indian society.
India, as a nation was hit by the computer revolution in the mid-nineties. This revolution led to the birth of an exciting entrepreneurial wave in the whole country. In this first wave of an economic uprising, many legendary organizations and companies were established. This led to a massive rise in jobs and that is when Indian women broke the stereotype and took up decision-making roles in many of these companies. This forced the society to change its view of looking at women as unequal. In the past 20 years or so, the Indian working woman has broken and even transformed various stereotypes. Today, we have women who are working twice as hard and are performing with par excellence in fields which were considered to be “male professions”, till not more than a few decades ago.
Here are some stories of such Indian women, who are leading by example and have set the tone for gender-neutral rights and opportunities in India.
Flight Lieutenant Avani Chaturvedi is one of the first female fighter pilots of India. She hails from Rewa district in Madhya Pradesh in central India. She was declared as the first combat pilot along with two others, Mohana Singh, and Bhawana Kanth. The trio was inducted into the Indian Air Force fighter squadron in June 2016.
Taniya Sanyal joined the ranks of the AAI or Airports Authority of India as a firefighter in early 2018. Sanyal is the first female firefighter ever recruited in India and is indeed a milestone and an ideal to look up to. She will be serving the airports of the eastern region including Kolkata, Bhuvaneshwar, Raipur and Gaya.
Nirmala Sitharaman is the first full-time female defence minister of India. The position was held before by Indira Gandhi when she was also Prime Minister. The Ministry of Defence is of crucial importance as it deals with matters of national security and the three armed forces. Nirmala Sitharaman took the responsibility of the ministry on 3rd September 2017.
Fathima Beevi. M. Fathima Beevi is a former judge of the Supreme Court of India. She was appointed to the tribunal in 1989. With that, she became the first female judge to be a part of the Supreme court of India. The Judiciary is indispensable when it comes to running the country smoothly. And M. Fathima Beevi was the first female judge in the Supreme Court and brought about many positive changes in her tenure.
Sudha Murthy is best known for her social work. She is one of the trustees of the Infosys Foundation. A linguist at heart, she is a published author of various books in Kannada and English. One of the most famous projects that she has undertaken is of building a library in every school in the country. As of 2017, she has built and maintained 55,000 libraries in schools across the country. Her story is a great inspiration to young Indians to give back to society.
Through the medium of this blog, we salute these women who are without a doubt pioneers in their respective field. Women are an integral part of society and a very important one. India, in the past few years, through the spectacle of these and many other working women has begun a journey of change. A change of perspective and thought. In the coming years, many such examples will come up in varied fields of profession, where working women will transform stereotypes. This is what we call the Indian Saga, or the Indian story. A Saga of positive and developmental change.
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