1 | P a g e

Inspiring and Unprecedented Initiative

In an era of mass consumerism - not only of material goods - but of information, where society continues to be led by dominant and parochial ideas, the struggle to make our stories heard, has been limited. But the tides are slowly turning and is being led by the collaborative strength of empowered Hindu women from within our community.

The Covid-19 pandemic has at once forced us to cancel our core programmes - which for decades had brought us together to pursue our mission to develop value-based leaders - but also allowed us the opportunity to collaborate in other, more innovative ways.

It gives me immense pride that Hindu Sevika Samiti (UK) have set a new precedent for the trajectory of our work. As a follow up to the successful Mahila Shibirs in 7 vibhags attended by over 500 participants, 342 Mahila sevikas came together to write 411 articles on seven different topics which will be presented in the form of 7 e-books. I am very delighted to launch this collection which explores topics such as: The uniqueness of Bharat, , Pandemic and way of life, and the Contribution of Hindu women, amongst others. From writing to editing, content checking to proofreading, the entire operation was

2 | P a g e

ॐ conducted by our Sevikas. This project has revealed hidden talents of many mahilas in writing essays and articles. We hope that these skills are further encouraged and nurtured to become good writers which our community badly lacks. I encourage all to read and share these works with their family and friends and hope our swayamsevaks and sevikas from across the world can take inspiration from this enormous initiative.

Dhiraj D Shah

Sanghachalak, HSS (UK)

2 Ashaadh 5122 (HE)

23 June 2020

3 | P a g e

I would like to extend my heartiest congratulations to all the Mahila (ladies) who participated in creating and publishing this eBook. From start to finish to write articles, edit them, check their content, proofread, and then format into eBooks within 2 months is just mind blowing. Ladies, you all have surpassed all my expectations and achieved the most amazing feat.

Over the years, Mahila Shibirs have taken place at National level, Vibhaag level and this year as eMahila Shibir. At National level around 100 ladies used to attend a weekend varg. At a Vibhaag level most were organised as day vargs. This year, eMahila Shibir was organised for 2 hours, by 7 vibhags in which 500+ mahilas participated. The shibir included activities like skill session (public speaking or writing), games and a talk on Sevika .

Second part of engaging mahilas was to choose a topic, research and utilise the skills learnt at the eMahila Shibir to write an article. It is amazing to see the enthusiasm with which 411 articles were written by the mahilas. A well-planned task requires a dedicated national and vibhaag level teams to execute it within the time limit, which was achieved.

Your efforts will benefit yourselves and the Samiti work for the years to come. The on-going hard work of the mahilas and their commitment to the vision of learning the skill and putting it into practice to achieve such a wonderful goal is just amazing.

I feel very proud of all the mahilas who have put in so much effort within such a short time to produce an amazing eBook. The book will remind us all of the creativity during the Covid crisis in the year 2020.

Jayshreeben Mistry

Kendriya Saha Karywahika, HSS (UK)

4 | P a g e

ॐ Disclaimer

The views and opinions expressed in the articles are the respective author’s own and do not represent that of HSS (UK) or the author’s places of work. While each author and HSS (UK) has made every effort to ensure that the information we are sharing is accurate, we welcome any comments, suggestions, or correction of errors. HSS (UK) is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of any information in the articles.

5 | P a g e

ॐ Contents

Foreword ...... 9

Nari ...... 11

Vandaniya Taiji Apte ...... 14

Hindu Women in The Corporate World ...... 18

Folk Art ...... 24

Sarla Thakral (aka Sarla Sharma) ...... 34

झ ाँसी की र नी लक्ष्मीब ई: Rani Laxmibai ...... 38

Suneeta Reddy ...... 46

Hindu Sports Women ...... 49

Sindhutai Sapkal (Maai) ...... 55

Savitribai Phule ...... 58

Sudha Murthy ...... 61

Sudha Murthy ...... 68

Mrs Sudha Murthy ...... 70

M S Subbulakshmi ...... 74

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw ...... 77

Mangala Gauri ...... 82

Girija ...... 86

Geeta Iyengar ...... 88

Dr Smt ...... 90

Lata Mangeshkar ...... 92

Anju Bhargava ...... 96

6 | P a g e

Lakshmi Agarwal ...... 100

BK Shivani ...... 102

Niruben Mepa ...... 106

Rani Rudramadevi ...... 111

Brave Indian Women...... 115

Rukmini Devi Arundale ...... 121

Kalpana Chawla ...... 125

Mithali Raj ...... 128

Ramabai Ranade ...... 131

Rajmata Ahilyabai ...... 134

Sudha Chandran ...... 143

Ela Bhatt ...... 145

Geeta Phogat ...... 148

Kiran Bedi ...... 152

Raj Khaira ...... 154

A New Approach to Keep Folk Art Alive ...... 159

Meena Ganesh ...... 166

Sitara Devi ...... 170

Sophia Duleep Singh ...... 172

Indra Nooyi ...... 178

P. V. Sindhu ...... 184

Sushma ...... 187

Sushma Swaraj ...... 190

Akka Mahadevi ...... 195

7 | P a g e

Kalpana Saroj ...... 197

दीपिक कु म री ...... 201 Shakuntala Devi ...... 206

Ajaita Shah ...... 209

Dr. Sheetal Amte...... 215

Vandaniya Mausiji ...... 220

Dr. Swati Piramal ...... 224

Veermata (Jijau) ...... 227

Maa Sharda ...... 230

Bhagini Nivedita ...... 236

References ...... 239

8 | P a g e



The E- book publication this year has been a masterstroke of world reset. West Vibhag Mahilas (sevikas), have taken up the challenge in these unprecedented times with great spirit and focus.

There was huge motivation and planning done by the kendriya team so that the concept could reach each sevika (woman) in the shakha. Senior karyakarta Dr. Vidulaji Ambekar was requested to give the sevikas the required individual Margadarshan.

The selection of the topic was done at Vibhag level, after long discussions and meetings, the following pursuit was considered. The pursuit of wisdom, learning and art is seeking grace of Goddess Saraswati. The pursuit of wealth is: Goddess Dhanalakshmi, making a good home is Grihalakshmi, success is Jayalakshmi, children are Sanatanalakshmi, marriage is Varalakshmi, one’s wellbeing is Saubhagyalakshmi and for courage and strength it is devi.

This E-book is titled “Contribution of Hindu Women” (Positive changes in the society). It was divided further under various fields such as: Art, Sports,

9 | P a g e

Corporate world, Leadership, Renaissance (Uthan) and , Science, and Bravery, so that all areas of work get covered.

The aim was to encourage maximum number of mahilas to participate. The “writing skill development session” gave a boost to the Mahilas to be able to write for themselves, where they were able to use the skills learnt in their articles. Despite some of the mahilas writing an article for the first time, their hesitation did not let their interest down.

Even though these women had other responsibilities, they still took the time out to express their views on their topics of interest. The Mahilas have researched their topic thoroughly well, putting in a lot of effort and thought behind writing their articles and really bringing out their true writers’ spirit.

This HSS endeavour has given an opportunity and a sense of confidence among women to express themselves by writing about their role models.

I would like to congratulate all women writers who have written in this anthology. I would also like to thank the editing team, content team, proofreading team and formatting team who have worked immensely hard to keep up with the tight schedule. Hope you will find this book as inspiring as I did and will preserve it for years to come.

Dr. Swati Apte

10 | P a g e

ॐ Nari जन्म लिया कन्या का जब वो,

लिव्य सधु ा की कोमि ब िूँ ,

माता के हाथो मᴂ सरु लित,

मुट्ठी बंि कर आखूँ ⴂ को म िूँ ,

झ िा झ िे, वो गोि मᴂ खेिे, ꥍयारी सी लबजिी सी क㄂ध l

घर के आगन मᴂ भाग िौड़,

छम छम पायि की लथरकन सी,

मीठी सी बोिी, बोिे नन्ही.

कानो मᴂ घिु े एक सरगम सी,

लपता के सपनो की डोर लिए,

झम नाच बढ वो पीपि सी,

अठखेलियां करती, झ मती गाती,

11 | P a g e

कहकहे िगाती सलखयⴂ के संग,

मुकाती हंसती निी सी बहती,

यौवन के ओढ़े सौ लििकश रगं ,

प्रीत समन्वय के मीठे सपने,

पनप रहे यवु ती के अंतममन l

मन मᴂ घबराहट, तन मᴂ करति,

मंडप मᴂ आकर बैठी सगु ंधा,

श्यामि के ननै ो से ननै लमिाती

प्रीत िरश कर फे रे िेती र륍भा,

फे रⴂ से पहिे जानकी थी,

वो छोड़ जनक अब चिी अयोध्या l

12 | P a g e

ॐ समय बीता आकर वही ूँ셁का,

उस गोि पे जहा ूँ से श셂ु हुआ,

जननी के आचूँ ि मᴂ भावी जननी,

एक औरत का लफर से जन्म हुआ,

एक और समलपमत जीवन का,

नन्हᴂ से 셂प मᴂ अवतरण हुआ l

प्रेम की िाता,अन्नप णाम, हर िेवी समालहत इसमᴂ है.

घर की कारक, सबकी पािक,

िगु ाम िक्ष्मी सब इसमᴂ हℂ,

मान करो स륍मान करो,

सारी सलृ ि लवरालजत इसमᴂ है l

मेधा शमाा 配यागी

West Drayton Shakha

13 | P a g e

ॐ Vandaniya Saraswati Taiji Apte

एक दिव्य ज्योदि जो लाखोⴂ िीप जला गयी

ममिा की वो मूरि वो हमᴂ जुड़ना सीखा गयी

अनथक अदवरल धारा सी वो

हमᴂ दनरⴂिर बढ़ना दसखा गयी

प्रेरणा ले बढे चलᴂ हम दिव्य ध्येय मागग पर

वⴂिनीय मा更 िो आशीष दनष्ठा यू更 ही बनी रहे

दवश्व धमग की ज्योदि हो अखⴂड

जीवन हो िुम सा सेवा मᴂ रि नाम से अपने ज्ञान की िेवी प्रेरणा िुम जगा गयी

Tai Ji was Dwitiya Pramukh Sanchalika of Rashtra Sevika Samiti, Tai ji wonderfully bore the duty of Samiti work across Bharat. Before she became Pramukh Sanchalika, she was already a mother to all of those who came in contact with her from Sangh and Samiti. From the age of 15 years, when she got married to Vinayak Rao ji who was the Karyawah of , she started helping and looking after Sangh Karyakartas like a mother. Her household was always full of visitors from Sangh, but she was always happy to receive everyone and never let anyone leave without feeding them. That is why when she passed away, Devras ji (Rashtriya Swayam Sevak, Sanghchalak) said that he lost his older sister and many swayamsevaks of Sangh have lost their mother and her guidance.

14 | P a g e

Until her last day, she did not stop at all and she went to shakha and went to see a few sevikas at their homes. She cared for each and every sevika so much that she was with them at every stage of their life and supported them in every way. Sevikas’ love towards her was obvious on the day of her funeral when 3000 sevikas attended her funeral in full Samiti Ganvesh.

One story I would like to mention is about a sevika from Meruth, UP. There was a Samiti Varg happening in Muzaffarpur and this sevika fell ill. It took her a week to recover and she was still weak, so she was not allowed to take part in Path Sanchalan, she got really upset and approached Taiji. Taiji understood her emotion and let her take part in Sanchalan and also advised that she should sit in the car if she feels weak during Sanchalan. She managed to complete the Sanchalan somehow but when they finished, she came to her room and just fell in the bed. Next thing she knew was someone rubbing her feet with warm oil and that was Vandaniya Taiji. Such was Taiji’s love towards sevikas, she fulfilled their demands and looked after them like a mother.

Taiji was so hard-working that she never stopped, if she had baithak (meeting) at her home, she used to do it in the kitchen and continued to do her work while discussing the Samiti work. She always used to say that one should never sit idle.

She was very careful about using resources too. Once a sevika got a rickshaw as she was going with Taiji somewhere, but Tai ji said that she should not have wasted money as they could have walked because they were going nearby.

15 | P a g e

Some of the sevikas were going to work as vistarika and Taiji’s advice to them actually applies to all the karyakartas. She said to them, “You are going to work in the society, never get angry with anyone and never make any decisions in haste. You should try to win over people with your positive attitude. Even if you feel upset, do not show it. We should not be arrogant and have full faith in our work. We should think properly before voicing our opinions and rather show our views through action and this will help us in life. All of you will be luminaries. Remember to take care of your health.” She explained a Marathi idiom to us which meant that anger should only come out of your lips, but affection should come straight from the heart. She not only verbally told us this, but this was visible in her behaviour too.

She used to write to sevikas continuously saying, “I just remembered you today hence I am writing to you.” That sentence had a magical power and love. It used to encourage everyone to work harder. She had a unique way to encourage us. She would remember each and every Sevika, this thought made us so happy. Sevikas could share their successes and failures with Tai ji openly. She led by example, her attitude and words used to instil a new energy in sevikas.

She was a remarkable personality. Taapi (Taiji’s childhood name), the daughter of Savitri and Gangadhar Pant turned out to be a great sister, dedicated wife, a wonderful mother, a lovely grandmother, a loving mother-in-law and with all those responsibilities, her consistent continuous work for the society from a young age of 15 to until she passed away at the age of 84, has shown us a way to work for our dharma tirelessly and enthusiastically. She was a true brave Hindu leader.

16 | P a g e

The Rashtra Sevika Samiti’s Pramukh Sanchalika passed away on the 9th March 1994 and with that we lost a personality who was active in the women zone for about 60 years. Motherhood, leadership, and dutifulness, Saraswati Tai Apte had all three of these qualities. Working with ordinary people and achieving extraordinary goals was the result of such simple yet strong leadership.

Tai ji always used to say:

Shakha is Sanjiwani

Shivbhaven Jeev sewa

Dharma raksha is our prime duty.

Anu Mair Shakha | Hounslow

17 | P a g e

ॐ Hindu Women in The Corporate World

The common belief nowadays is that Hindu women in olden times were bound to the management of the household and they have just started stepping in the corporate world. Contrary to that, Hindu women have been scholars who not only composed hymns but also mastered and taught many subjects like music, dancing and philosophy in Gurukuls for example, Mata Arundhati (taught Samved) , Gargi (’s teacher) and Maitreyi (a great Philosopher) are a few well- known names. Just about 50 years ago, almost every woman mastered the skills of spinning, weaving, embroidery, and needlework. They were engaged in both manufacturing and production processes to supplement their family income.

The ancient Indians were the first to cultivate cotton, around 3,000 BC. By 1,000 BC, cotton fabric was being used all over , and they had developed cotton-spinning methods that would remain in use until industrialisation came along. Women had a major role in the development of this industry in India. Almost every household had a spinning wheel (charkha) and every woman knew how to spin cotton. In North India, folk songs like ‘Charkha Chandan da’ are very popular until now. This industry is still the second-largest employer in India after agriculture, providing employment to 18 | P a g e

ॐ over 51 million people directly and 68 million people indirectly, including rural women.

Apart from the household industries for cotton, there were many other household industries where women were silent partners of their husbands. I think it is just not in the nature of Indians to blow their own trumpet, most of us can easily relate to that. It mostly came from our mothers who selflessly supported our fathers with their professions, be it pottery, dairy, farming, medicine and many more.

Our achaars (pickles) and papads (poppadom) are well known in the globe, most of these businesses are family businesses and women played major roles in establishing big companies. For example, Shri Mahila Griha Udyog Lijjat Papad, a well-known Indian brand for poppadoms is an Indian women’s cooperative, involved in manufacturing of various fast-moving consumer goods. It was started by seven women in with a seed capital of only Rs 80 (approximately £1). Today it has a turnover of 800 million and is employing 43000 .

19 | P a g e

Farming was and still is the biggest profession in India and women actively take part in the whole process of farming from land preparation, seed sowing to harvesting. Agriculture sector employs 80% of all economically active women in India; they comprise 33% of the agriculture labour force and 48% of the self- employed farmers. In India, 85% of rural women are engaged in agriculture.

Within the household corporation, the management of a Hindu woman is unmatchable. She becomes the financial head as soon as she enters her husband’s house after marriage and as part of the rituals, her husband is made to promise that he will give all his income to her and let her manage the household finances. As her natural attribute, she becomes the wellbeing manager of the family. With instilled values of reduce, reuse, and recycle, she has always been a successful resource manager of the house. For example, we recently saw these qualities of reusing and recycling used by Tara Shinde and her associates during her project of ‘Mangalyaan’ and they managed to complete the project in a very low budget which is probably not enough to make a Hollywood movie. A Hindu woman is the operations manager in her household analysing and improving processes continually, and works to improve quality, productivity, and efficiency of every person in the household by quality controlling and ensuring their safety. 20 | P a g e

She leads the family positively through good and bad. No one should underestimate a Hindu woman’s marketing skills as no marketing company can match the tag line like ‘Maa ke haath ka khana’ and this has been going since unknown times until now.

About 200 years ago when the British came to one of the richest countries in the world- a country which had 23 percent of global GDP... A country where poverty was unknown, Indian women with all their natural attributes and instilled values had a major role in achieving that.

Although women in modern age are doing well in the corporate world but up to some extent, they risk their natural attributes in order to achieve the success in the corporate world which they need to consider themselves and not put their natural attributes at risk like motherhood.

It is believed in the modern world that have made progress towards a more equal and accepting society, but I believe that in Hindu society, women had all the freedom to learn anything, pursue a career in anything and they had no less status than a man. In fact, they had the highest status and all the deities also depended on their better halves for their power. All the Hindu business people worship Mata for the success in their businesses.

21 | P a g e

Today many Hindu women hold important roles in the corporate world globally. Many women are entering positions in what was formerly considered the male domain. In industries, such as advertising, banking, the civil service, and manufacturing, we can see a continuous increase in the female percentage of the workforce. Indeed, women are making encouraging progress into top corporate positions. Women such as

Kirthiga Reddy (CEO of Facebook India) and Vinita Bali (MD of Britannia Industries Limited) have proven that a woman can successfully be a boss in the corporate world.

These women are positive role models for an increasing population of educated Indian women with a new set of ambitions and ethics. Women often do have to work harder to determine their worth in senior corporate roles. Stereotypically women are generally viewed as working in secretariat jobs, human resources, and administrative positions at lower levels and normally in the fashion and beauty industry. Furthermore, women often feel the pressure to balance their traditional role as wives and mothers, while advancing their careers. When a woman reaches a senior position, she has to persevere in maintaining a strong character and demonstrating capability.

22 | P a g e

The importance of gender equivalence in the corporate sector is now being recognised, and women are being encouraged to improve their skills to improve their employment opportunities. It is still a global issue that women are facing discrimination to a certain extent in the workplace but with their involvement in every industry, the situation is steadily improving all over the world.

Anu Mair Rukmini Shakha | Hounslow

23 | P a g e

ॐ Folk Art

Celebrating Common Women

‘Art’ has multiple dictionary meanings such as 1. an expression of creative skill in a visual form, 2. creative activities such as music, drama, painting, 3. subjects of study concerned with human culture. From a philosophical angle, ‘Art’ is a way to express human emotions ranging from likes and dislikes, love and anger, possessiveness and freedom, ideas, and customs, to interdependence and independence. For this article per se, we are interpreting ‘Art’ as a combination of the above two.

Folk art is an art form that is unique to a certain group of people. It is used to express their emotions and lifestyle through their creative skills. Ultimately, folk art becomes the cultural identity of that subculture. Folk art painting is an integral part of Indian art and offers women a creative platform to express themselves. Yes, this article is celebrating Indian Women involved in Indian folk-art paintings.

On the world’s map, India is renowned for her cultural heritage and diversity. The country’s cultural wealth is a direct outcome of India’s two most important ethos: welcoming guests and open attitude. This is evident from two common shlokas:

‘अतिथि देवो भवः॥’ meaning ‘the guest is god’ and ‘वासुदेव कु टु म्मम्मकम॥’ meaning ‘the world is one family’

24 | P a g e

Based on this ideology, Indians welcomed people from various parts of the world with open arms. These people, overwhelmed by the openness and warmth of Indians, felt at home and decided to settle down. With them they brought their own culture and traditions to share.

Just like an individual grows with every experience, historical interaction of India’s indigenous culture with these new outside cultures gave birth to many subcultures, enhancing Indian cultural diversity exponentially. Glimpses of India’s cultural richness is showcased in The Linguistic Survey of India which reported that India has a total of 179 languages and 544 dialects.

Folk art is the fundamental part of India’s cultural landscape. Presently, all states and union territories of India have some form of art that is unique to them. Further, every state is a bouquet of smaller regions (mostly rural) and subcultures, owning their own share of distinctive folk art. This is witnessed in changing Rangoli patterns across Indian states, the paintings drawn on houses and huts and borders weaved on saris.

The importance of folk art remains paramount in any society, more so in the Indian context. It gives an insight into the life of rural India. It portrays the community’s traditions & cultural roots. In rural settings, folk art breaks the monotony of a woman’s daily life by adding recreational time and in addition, acts as a creative outlet. The tradition of the older generation teaching folk art to the newer generation strengthens the family bonds in a subtle way. Last but not least, the economic relevance of Indian folk art is growing with wider recognition

25 | P a g e

on the world stage, therefore fuelling its commercial demand. This is helping the women in rural India to monetise their creative skills while promoting the heritage.

While covering every folk art is beyond the scope of this article, we have picked four folk art paintings from different regions of India in which women play key roles. These folk-art paintings portray the depth, diversity, and vibrancy of Indian folk art. The chosen four folk paintings Are 1. Madhubani (Eastern region) 2. Warli (Western region) 3. Kolam (Southern region), and 4. Gond (Central region). The styles of these folk-art paintings range from naively simple to quite extensive in terms of colour palette, drawing details and subject matter. The visual presentation of all these paintings is so unique and yet all so complete. Here, we present a brief overview of the chosen four.

Madhubani Paintings from the Eastern Region

If there is one Indian folk art that embodies Indian folk women’s internal strengths to elevate an art from its humble origin to the world stage, it is Madhubani painting. Right from its origin of survival and evolution to popularity, folk women have been at the heart of these paintings. Madhubani painting is a distinct style of painting prevalent in the Mithila region of . It originated from the Madhubani district in the Mithila region. Madhubani literally means 'Forest of honey', as the district is very rich in vegetation due to its large farming base.

As tradition has it, this art style dates back to mythology of the Ramayana, when King Janak asked local women to do paintings on the occasion of the marriage of

26 | P a g e

ॐ his daughter, Sita, to Lord Ram. Since then, the painting became part of the Mithila people’s life and culture. Originally, Madhubani paintings were drawn on clay walls of courtyard and houses. With the growing popularity of these paintings around the world, artists have started presenting it on fabric, wood, walls and paper to widen its commercial value. Various tools, including fingers, twigs, brushes, nib-pens, and matchsticks are used to draw and colour the paintings. The pigments used are natural and mostly derived from plants. The colour palette ranges from bright colours (such as deep red, green, blue, and black) to mild colours (such as yellow, pink, and lemon). Different flowers and leaves are picked, dried and grounded. After that, they are mixed with acacia glue & milk and applied on the canvas.

Madhubani paintings are distinctly characterised by their eye-catching geometrical patterns. Since the Mithila region has been long associated with the Ramayan (as per the ancient text), Madhubani paintings are themed mainly around Hindu religious beliefs. Consequently, typical Madhubani paintings either present the visual narration of the epic stories of the Ramayan and the Mahabharat or contain images of festivals, rituals, deities, and nature (like the sun, moon, waterfalls, birds, and animals). This art gets passed on from generation to generation of women in the region. Inspired by the success of this folk art, the men of the region are now learning it from the women.

Many Madubani women artists have earned the highly coveted award of honour. Recently, the Madhubani Railway Station has been extensively decorated by these folk paintings all around the station. Bihar-bound trains like Rajdhani are getting a facelift with these paintings. Moreover, the capital city of

27 | P a g e

Bihar, Patna, is now decorated with Mithila paintings more or less everywhere, celebrating the culture, popularity, and beauty of these paintings. Madhubani paintings illustrate how a modest traditional folk art can instigate gradual empowerment of women in a society. Now these paintings are making inroads in urban India and on the world forum. Given the simplicity and visual appeal of these paintings, it is only the beginning of its popularity.

Figur Warli Art from Western Region e 1 Warli painting is a tribal art originally practiced by an indigenous tribe (‘Adivasis’) of the Western in India called ‘the Warlis’. This tribe lives in the mountains and coastal areas of the - border and surrounding areas. The Warlis worship mother earth as a goddess and believe in the spiritual essence of nature (including plants and animals). Therefore, traditionally, nature has been the central theme of Walri paintings. Furthermore, marriage is considered to be one of the most important events in a Warli’s life and hence weddings are commonly expressed in these paintings.

28 | P a g e

The visual presentation of Warli painting is almost like a pictorial language which is simple in its expression but quite broad in its narration. It basically consists of three geometrical patterns representing different elements of nature: the circle representing sun and moon; the triangle signifying mountains, trees, animals and human beings; lastly the square that depicts a sacred enclosure or a piece of land. By using these elementary shapes, they narrate the power of nature and its interaction with human beings, their various day-to-day activities like dancing in a circle by holding hands, fishing, hunting, farming and the festivals and celebrations.

Similar to its connotation, the technique is just as simple, yet effective. Traditionally, the paintings were drawn on walls. These walls are coated with a mixture made of branches, red earth (called ‘Geru’) and cow dung to act as a red brick canvas for the paintings. Only white colour is used for drawing these paintings. This white pigment is made by mixing grounded rice with water and gum as a binder. Bamboo stick chewed at one end is used as a paintbrush. This restricted use of colour palette has almost made these paintings the tribal identity.

The original form of Warli paintings has evolved gradually with time. Traditionally, these paintings were drawn by Warli women as ritualistic paintings. But now, men are also involved and prefer to draw everyday scenes. Unlike traditional Warli paintings that were much simpler and minimalistic, the modern version – although sticking to the original colour palette – is sometimes more detailed and slowly deviating from the original significance of shapes. Even so, the charm of this style of red and white paintings is unmatchable.

29 | P a g e

Figure 2 Kolam art from Southern region

‘Kolam’ is a multi-meaning word in Tamil. It means beauty, colour, form, appearance, nature, embellishment. No wonder this beautiful word is also used to name a beautiful ritual art form practised in most of Southern India. ‘Kolam’ is a floor art drawn by the female member of a family in front of their houses.

The custom of painting Kolam is believed to be about 5,000 years old. Kolams are symmetrical design patterns drawn on the floor in front of houses. These patterns are free-handily drawn by drawing dots, parallel lines and curvy lines criss-crossing each other in intricate patterns. The seamless flow of these lines from one point to another and back to the starting point is a treat for eyes. Rice powder, chalk powder, stone powders, edible grains and vegetable dyes are used to draw these patterns.

Traditionally, Kolams are drawn for two reasons - religious and decorative. The grains and flours used for drawing the pattern feeds insects like ants. This is considered as an act of charity, widely advocated in Hindu culture. It is also drawn as a sign of invitation to welcome ‘Maa Lakshmi’, the Goddess of Prosperity, and drive away the evil spirits. The symmetry symbolises harmony and balance of Shiv & . Even though Kolam is a free-hand art, the symmetry

30 | P a g e

ॐ achieved is incredible and showcases the artistic skills of these women, who achieve excellence with regular practice. Further, Kolam adds to the aesthetic value of home. On festivals and celebratory occasions, complex Kolams are drawn with multi-coloured powders for furthering the decorative appearance. However, there is a third and very important aspect to Kolam. It helps physical, mental, and spiritual development of the artist. Physically, the artist has to bend knees and waist, stretch her hands and legs to reach to the drawing. This transforms into a healthy morning exercise routine. Mentally, the imagination and drawing of symmetrical patterns helps the co-ordination between the two sides of the brain. Finally, the silent concentration required while drawing Kolam is a form of meditation, positively nourishing the spiritual self.

Gond paintings from Central region

Gond painting is a tribal art form practiced by ‘Gond tribe, since the last 1400 years. Gondi or Gond people are the largest tribe (‘Adivasi’) of India that lives mostly in and its neighbouring states. According to the 2001 census, their population was 11 million. The word Gond is derived from ‘Kond’, which means ‘green mountains’ in Dravidian language and therefore these Gonds are also called ‘hill people’.

While Gonds’ culture is influenced by Hindu religion; clanship, village deities and ancestor worship is at the heart of religion followed by them. They have a distinct belief that each clan has its own clan god (known as ‘Persa pen’ or ‘Baradeo’), who looks after every member of the clan. It is believed that ‘Persa pen’ looks after the activities of lesser gods. Gonds also believe in animism. All these beliefs

31 | P a g e

& legends were communicated verbally, giving rise to the tribe's rich oral tradition. This was done by a sub-group of the community, called ‘Pradhans’, who were professional storytellers. Gond art gave a pictorial representation to these stories. Similar to many tribal arts, Gond art was originally used to narrate the mythical stories, legend, religious beliefs of the community. It was also based on inspiration drawn from the connection of humans with nature and daily lives of people.

Traditionally, these paintings were painted on mud walls of the houses by folk women. In Gond art, the first step is to carefully draw the outline of a picture. Within these outer lines, inner lines are drawn to give a sense of movement and lively appearance to the picture. The picture is then filled with colours, mostly vivid and bright like white, red, blue, and yellow. Finally, dots & dashes are added to impart a greater sense of movement and enhance the detail. The paints used are usually derived naturally from objects such as charcoal, coloured soil, plant sap, flowers, leaves and cow dung.

Starting in the early 1980s, certain talented Pardhan Gonds started a new tradition of applying this style of painting to express symbolic and narrative visual art using a variety of modern media like paper, poster colours, acrylic paint etc. One of the most famous examples of this is a book called ‘The London Jungle Book’ created by artist ‘’, in which he has illustrated the life of people in London via drawing symbolic Gond art. Initially these modern Gond artists were mostly males, but now lots of folk women are taking interest, completing the whole circle of how the art started. With rising international fame, the scope of Gond art expression has widened immensely. Contrast of simple

32 | P a g e

ॐ outer lines with detailed inner lines and dots & dashes, gives this art a unique and eye-catching appearance.

Figure 3


From the humble beginnings as ritual paintings, these folk arts are gradually becoming expressions of Indian folk women not just to narrate their cultural mythological stories, but their own emotions, views, ideas, and history of evolving communities. From monochromatic Kolam to colourful Madhubani paintings, from rudimentary Warli paintings to detailed Gond paintings, from complex mathematical patterns of Kolam to abstract themes of Gond art, these folk arts highlight the spectrum of creative skills deep inside folk women artists. These women artists are showcasing the country’s cultural heritage, preserving their old traditions, enhancing the identity of their local community, raising their family’s economic standards & discovering a renewed expression of freedom. This article is tribute to each and every such woman in India. After reading this article, if you feel a little bit of tingling in your hearts, minds and hands, then please do more research on the folk art of the region you or your ancestors come from, learn it and bring it in your homes in some form and inspire the next generation.

Bela Agarwal

Maya Shakha | Amersham

33 | P a g e

ॐ Sarla Thakral (aka Sarla Sharma)

The First Hindu Woman to Fly an Aircraft

While I was researching for a topic for my article, I came across various Hindu women who have created a mark in history but I felt more connected to Sarla Thakral because of her determination and courage which helped her fight all the odds and win the battle of life. I hope this article on Sarla Thakral (Aka Sarla Sharma) will give good insight on her life which will be an inspiration to many women around the world.

When you think of Hindu/Indian Women in Aviation field, you must have heard about Prem Mathur - First Indian/Hindu Women to become a commercial Pilot in 1947, Durba Banerjee - First Indian/Hindu woman pilot of Indian Airlines in 1956 and Padmavathy Bandopadhyay - First Indian/Hindu woman officer of the to be promoted to the rank of Vice Marshal in 2002. All of these women left their mark in the skies opening doors for millions of other Hindu Women in this field. But the first woman who paved the way for all the Women pilots like Mathur, Banerjee and Bandopadhyay was Sarla Thakral, who at a very young age of 21, in the year 1936 became the first Indian woman to fly an aircraft, which laid the groundwork for Hindu women to enter the field of aviation.

Sarla was born in in 1914 while India was under the rule of British Government. She got married to Mr. P.D. Sharma at a tender age of 16. As per the Hindu/Indian customs, after her marriage they moved to to live with her Husband’s family. Mr. Sharma’s family had 9 professional pilots already

34 | P a g e

ॐ including himself who was also the first Indian to get an airmail's Pilot license. With all professional pilots in her family she also dreamt of flying an aircraft. With her courage and encouragement from Mr Sharma she was ready to take flying lessons. As Mr Sharma was too busy to give her flying lessons, her father-in-law enrolled Sarla in Local flying school – Lahore Flying Club.

Sarla turned out to be a natural pilot, just after 8 hours and 10 minutes of training, her instructor believed that she was ready to fly solo. What a great achievement and confidence she had during those days. Sarla dressed in a Sari, climbed into the cockpit of a Gypsy Moth and she flew the plane to the required altitude and managed to land the plane on her own passing her first solo driving and got a “Aviation pilot license”. Look at her picture in the Sari and the confidence on her face as she completed her solo plane driving on Gypsy Moth plane.

Figure 4 Sarla Thakral with Gypsy Moth plane – Art by: Rishita (My daughter)

35 | P a g e

She then took rigorous training and in 1936 she successfully completed more than 1,000 hours of flying to attain a “A” License becoming the first Indian woman to ever do so at the age of 21. At this age she was the mother of a 4- year-old daughter.

Just after 3 years in 1939, Captain Sharma was killed in an airplane crash. Sarla was just 24-year-old, a young widow and mother of 2 daughters. She did not lose her confidence or determination, travelled to Jodhpur by train for her commercial pilot’s license with a hope of making a career in aviation. But sadly, the Second World war broke out and all flying was suspended. She had to give up her career in the aviation field. However, as a strong-minded woman, she returned to Lahore and enrolled herself in the “Mayo School of Art'' where she got trained in Bengal school of painting and got a diploma in fine arts. She also started her business of designing clothes, selling costume jewellery, and decorating saris so that she could make a living.

During India’s Independence Year 1947, Sarla was still living in Lahore which is now in territory. The created two independent states India and Pakistan. Considering the potential threats and safety of the Hindu women and children, Sarla left Lahore with her two daughters and got on a train to Delhi, the place where she was born. She was a follower of , a community dedicated to following the teachings of the . She was fond of writing Shlokas from Vedas and gave those to her friends.

Life was not easy for her with two daughters. While living in Delhi she met Mr R. P Thakral and married him in 1948.

Second phase of her life started, where Mrs. Sarla Thakral started her business of textile block printing which became popular in the fashion crowd. Soon she

36 | P a g e

ॐ succeeded in establishing herself as a painter and a successful businesswoman (Textile and Jewellery industry).

Sarla, who was also known as Mati, was a symbol of strength even in her 90s. She believed in doing things herself, saying that work kept her busy and helped her fight loneliness. She was even honoured for being the oldest yet the fittest person in her neighbourhood at the age of 91. Sarla Thakral in an interview at the age of 91 said

“Always be happy, it is very important for us to be happy and cheerful. This one motto has seen me tide over the crises in my life"

Amidst women struggling with their obstacles in daily lives, Mrs. Sarla Thakral sets an example of living a fearless life and giving wings to her dreams. Although she passed away on 15th March 2008, at an age of 94 she will be remembered for generations after generations, juggling the roles of a wife, mother, a pilot, painter, successful entrepreneur/businesswoman.

She not only inspired other women to navigate to the skies but also became a role model for determination and resilience (moulding herself based on the situations and working hard to achieve the goal). She proved that no matter whatever the circumstances, have trust in yourself and if you have zeal to be successful you will succeed in your life in any field. Hats off to Sarla Thakral, a wife, a Mother, a Pilot, a Painter, and an entrepreneur.

Bhavana Parmar Sita Shakha | Slough

37 | P a g e

झा更सी की रानी लक्ष्मीबाई:

Rani Laxmibai

She was undoubtedly one of the bravest leaders in Indian history. The life of Rani Laxmibai was surrounded with honour, devotion, and patriotism. She was named Manikarnika but known with many nicknames like Manu, Chabili, Veerangana and Ki Rani etc.

Rani Lakshmibai's statue in Solapur Early Life of Manikarnika (Maharashtra) Image Courtesy: wikivoyage.org Born on 19 November 1828 in to a Karhade family, she was the daughter of Moropant Tambe and Bhagirathi (Sapre) Tambe, who belonged from Maharashtra. Moropant worked for Bajirao Peshawa - II of Vithur district. Manu lost her mother when she was just 4 years old. She was educated mostly at home though; she was efficient in reading and writing. A child without mother yet she was very independent than others at her age and had developed leadership qualities in her early life. She pioneered herself in many other areas like shooting, horsemanship, fencing, mallakambha (aerial on a vertical wooden pole), in supervision of her .

38 | P a g e

The Journey from Manikarnika to Rani Laxmibai

The conversion of Manikarnika to Rani Laxmibai was a result of her popularity. Which already started from Vithur itself, she made her own group of young women (teenagers) and started giving training of horse riding, archery, sword fighting and flanking. She made secret group with Tatya Tope and fought for justice whilst keeping their identity a secret. Hence the public named the anonymous fighter “Krantikaari”. Her bravery besides various achievements were heard all around, this made her renowned in Vithur and she proved herself worthy of being part of Raj Gharana. She got married to Maharaja Gangadhar Rao in 1842 of Jhansi province. When she arrived in Jhansi, people started calling her Laxmibai to pay her respect as it means “Goddess Laxmi”.

Early Years in Jhansi

Rani Laxmibai and Maharaja Gangadhar Rao had son named Damodar Rao, who unfortunately died when he was just 4 months old. Raja Gangadhar Rao was not keeping well, so they adopted Anand Rao (who was a son of Raja’s cousin) as heir for the Throne and renamed him as Damodar Rao. While the heir formalities were occurring, Raja Gangadhar Rao fell crucially ill and died in 1853.

By this time British were ruling various empires in India, Lord Dalhousie took advantage of the situation of Jhansi state and rejected the document of her adopted son being the next heir. Moreover, he asked Laxmibai () to leave the kingdom immediately with nominal state pension. Laxmibai refused the offer and continued to be the Rani of Jhansi.

39 | P a g e

The Reason of 1857 rebellion

In 1857 the first war of independence took place in India; it was not the war for democracy because India was not one state at that time. All of the kingdoms wanted their independence from British rule and the public wanted their rights back, so everyone was rebelling, and this was the perfect moment for Jhansi to join-in this war.

There were many reasons for this:

• Political – Lord Dalhousie had made a policy called “Doctrine of lapse” which stated that if a king dies without biological heir, their kingdom will be taken under British rule. This was the case of many kingdoms in India and Jhansi was not an exception. The Queen of Jhansi had written a letter in Parsi (official language for communication then), requesting Lord Dalhousie to accept her adopted son Damodar Rao to be the successor of Jhansi. She also stated all of the exceptions that were made to this “Doctrine of lapse” policy. Lord Dalhousie continuously denied the request despite Laxmibai stating all of the exceptions. A few days later, the British commanders came to inform her that Jhansi was now under British rule and she will be given a state pension of just Rs.60,000 per annum. She was asked to leave the position Queen of Jhansi and the Fort immediately, which she obviously refused.

• Economical – The main rule of British was to exploit all of the goods and supply them back to Europe. This included valuable metals and precious stones like Gold from the Kings and special crops and spices which could only be grown in India. This caused the economic conditions of very

40 | P a g e

respected and rich farmers all around India to be beggar like. The Kings would also be depressed as they would see an empty Raj Khazana very frequently and lack of food supplies. Such was the case of Jhansi as well where British Commanders had sealed the Raj Khazana of Jhansi which contained Rs.245,738 in Gold and Silver coins.

• Administrative – One major reason why there was a war was because the British became extremely arrogant, violent, and very authoritative with everyone. Indian soldiers were deprived from having high posts and handsome salaries. This heavy racial discrimination was a big reason why the Indian military was frustrated. The Kings were getting orders from the British, it was as if the Kings did not have any authority over their land. This is why the majority of the Indian population, no matter whether King or ordinary public, led to them to not like the British Majors.

• Social – There was a lot of pressure on the Indian people about what they did socially. They had to think about who they talk to what they talked about and in front of whom. The British initially insisted then forced Indians (Hindu, Muslims) to convert into Christians. Common people did not appreciate these changes in social customs and westernisation brought by the British. An example of change in social customs was the practise of being abolished. Remarriage was encouraged and child marriage was not allowed. This added up a lot of hatred in the Jhansi population towards the British.

41 | P a g e

The Battle of Jhansi

After getting thrashed by multiple Indian Kingdoms, the finally launched their first successful attack, taking over bordering and Sagar kingdoms in January 1858. Shortly in February 27th, 1858 British forces arrive at Jhansi but they were prepared…

Jhansi’s castle had 8 main entrances these were Khanderao, Datia, Bhandir, Onnao, Lachmittal, Orcha, Sainwar and Sagar. The castle had 20 wells, 35 cannons and 5500 troops. On March 23rd General Rose began his attack on the south facing gate, Sagar and Sainwar, with 102 state of the art cannons although he only had 1500 soldiers. They bombarded the gates all throughout the day. This caused the gate to take some serious damage and massive cracks. In the morning, the British troops were surprised to see that the gates were as good as new. This was because Jhansi had a group of Masons working all night to fill in the cracks and repair the gates.

On March 30th, 1858 Jhansi lost Gulham Gaur who was their main cannon gunner and his second Khudabaksh Khan. Then on March 31st, 1858, just as Jhansi was losing hope, with no warning, came Tatya Tope with a massive army of 22,000 troops, 28 cannons and 10 elephants. This army was given to Tatya Tope by various different rulers. General Rose pushed relentlessly to drive Tatya Tope back. This forced him to leave the battle in order to save his life. His army

42 | P a g e

ॐ was blind without a leader so most of them lost their lives because of the confusion.

General Rose diverted his attention back to Jhansi and launched a final attack with troops from Orcha and Datia on the 4th April. Seeing defeat close Jhalkaribai Kohrin (Laxmibai prominent advisor) wore the robes and went to battle. This helped Rani Laxmibai escape with her son Damodar Rao to Kalpi with 400 Afghan soldiers and a silver tumbler for the child’s milk. There was a massive massacre in Jhansi, the British killed nearly every citizen between the age of 5 to 80. They hung large groups of people daily for weeks in revenge of the 4th of June massacre.

On April the 5th Rani Laxmibai rode her horse Sarangi for 100 miles without stopping the whole night. General Rose was furious of the sly escape of the Queen. He sent 3 cavalry divisions led by General H Dowker. The Afghan soldiers stayed back to fight his men in order to push them back. At her arrival of Kalpi, Laxmibai joined forces with Rao Saheb and Tatya Tope. The trio fled from Kalpi with a few soldiers to after suffering another defeat at Kalpi. They planned on occupying the strategic fort of Gwalior after defeating their king, in order to apply their luck and war knowledge there.

The Betrayal at Gwalior

On arrival at Gwalior, Rani Laxmibai with the help of Tatya Tope and Rao Saheb, were prepared to fight. This was because the King of Gwalior (Jiyaji Rao Scindhiya) was an admirer and loyal to the East India Company. This led his soldiers, advisers, ministers and public to hate him. Just before they were about to fight, Jiyaji Rao’s soldiers and subjects turned against him to fight with

43 | P a g e

Laxmibai. Now that his Kingdom was lost to Laxmibai, he had no choice but to escape. He went near Morena and stayed in the Harsiddhi Mandir. The head Pujari made arrangements for the King to stay with his few loyal servants. The King then met up with General Rose and they prepared a plan to capture his kingdom back by attacking his own subjects who rebelled against him. This way they could capture the Queen by tricking her.

As soon as the East India Company started their attack, the Gwalior Janta fought with Laxmibai for a while, but they started getting scared when the company made much more progress than the Queen. This caused them to double-cross the Queen and fight with the King. After a heavy battle at Gwalior with alternating emotions from the Janata, the Company finally gained the upper hand. The Queen fought the whole battle with Damodar Rao tied on her back. They had the Queen surrounded from all sides. The only way the Queen could go was off the side of the Fort. She decided to jump off the hill being on her horse. Some say she died after her leap, but others say she was still alive after her jump, but she was extremely wounded. After travelling a little further to a small canopy named Kotah ki Sarai, she met a Pandit and requested him to cremate herself after her last breath but take the son back to his biological father in . The Pandit did what he was told. Damodar Rao’s Legacy still lives on till today…

44 | P a g e

Jhansi ki rani rests at Kotah ki Sarai. She may have died but she still remains alive through her stories of bravery. In Gwalior, we have her at Phul Bagh area near Gwalior Fort.


“If we defeated and killed on the field of battle, we shall surely earn eternal glory and salvation.” -

Rani Laxmibai (the brave Rani of Jhansi).

She was the bravest leaders in the and was the epitome of bravery. Her belief that women can do the same as man bought that ideology into the women of those times. Due to her sacrifices, she became an icon of Indian independence movement. Rani Laxmibai became a national heroine and was seen as the essence of female bravery in India.

The woman of Honour, true to each word and relevant even today, we learnt a lot of lessons from Rani Laxmibai. Like a role model, her confidence to take up, authority to lead and the determination, can help each one of us in overcoming the challenges of life. Her qualities deep sense of devotion, courageous attitude, boldness, stubborn and rebel, and high spirit always inspire all of us.

Anjali Bharati Shakha | Newbury

45 | P a g e

ॐ Suneeta Reddy

Managing Director of Apollo Hospitals

I admire Suneeta Reddy greatly because she is an avid goddess Durga follower, fitness enthusiast, very mindful about healthy living and follows a balanced diet. A compassionate and caring individual committed to the well-being of not just the patients but the society as a whole.

Suneeta Reddy has passionately supported many social initiatives like SACHi, SAHI, CURE and DISHA with an aim to reach out and provide healthcare to the underprivileged. Extremely fond of young children, she supports many financially challenged families whose children are suffering from diseases like Thalassemia.

46 | P a g e

Suneeta is very active in many programmes that spread awareness regarding preventable health problems. Breast cancer awareness is one such programme. Suneeta has said, ‘Early detection of breast cancer can save thousands of lives each year. Detecting cancer early is the most effective way of fighting it. Getting routine check-ups done and following recommended tests such as mammography and MRIs are very important in the prevention of the disease.’

About a decade ago, Reddy and her three sisters took over most executive functions at Apollo, India’s largest hospital chain, from their father. Reddy’s father Prathap, a doctor, founded Apollo in 1983 after a patient of his died because a cutting-edge treatment was not available in India.

A key influencer in the Indian healthcare industry, Suneeta Reddy is widely recognized for her contributions. Suneeta Reddy’s financial acumen has been a key factor in the group’s dramatic growth and profitability. She has a big hand in the introduction of advanced medical technologies like the CyberKnife, Novalis TX and more recently an Institute for Robotic Surgery. The contribution she has made, in emphasizing preventive care, ensuring a parallel stream of high -class research, internationally trained doctors and operating theatres with the latest equipment in the Apollo hospital that she has established, sets a benchmark which I hope others will be inspired to emulate.

Suneeta Reddy holds a Diploma in Financial Management from the Institute of Financial Management and Research, and has completed the

47 | P a g e

Owner/President Management Program at Harvard Business School (HBS), Boston, USA.

Today, healthcare in India is facing a changing paradigm in terms of accessibility, affordability and quality. During this pandemic time, her team is providing over 250 hospital beds for COVID-19 patients and it could be ramped up to 500 if needed. The group has 1,000 ventilators and enough of them could be free for COVID19 -patients since only emergency cases are being taken up at present.

Talking about the economy and gender equality, Reddy quotes, “Our economy needs our women to hold steady and increase their contribution in both the formal and informal economy. Healthcare inherently has a lot more diversity, a greater number of women across the organizations. Care for the patient, I think it comes naturally to women.” She worries about the health of Indian women and feels that Indian women tend to make their own health the last priority. She always encouraged women to look after themselves first, because if a woman falls ill the whole family suffers.

Priyanka Behl Rukmini Shakha | Hounslow

48 | P a g e

ॐ Hindu Sports Women

In ancient times, women played different games to keep them busy, healthy, and strong. Sports like horse riding and sword fighting were popular even in Vedic times.

We have all heard and playing the game called Chausser which is known as Ludo in modern times. Games like chess and snakes and ladders originated from the ancient Indian games and later these were later transmitted to foreign countries, where they were further modernised.

During the era when India was being invaded by foreigners and women had no choice but to bound themselves in the houses for safety issues, sports were dominated by men and there was no way for any household women to participate or watch also.

Eventually India became free and progressed and everything started to change. Hindu women were encouraged by their teacher, father, and brother and not the least by their own mother.

When this progress was happening ladies/ women explored some indoor games which keep them strong, healthy, and more social which also boosts their mental health. In Indian states like Maharashtra women gather together on magla gour

49 | P a g e

ॐ and in shravan the festivity month. They played some games including ping, jhima, phugadi, shivari, juhnku-luku, salunki, kombda, lathiya bai lathiya, and it is assumed that there are more than 55 to 65 of these traditional games.

Managala Gaur is one of the most anticipated celebrations in the auspicious month of Shravan, particularly for newly married Maharashtrian brides. It is celebrated with equal fervor by the women folk of all ages in the community. The day is started by traditional dresses and , which is followed by singing, dancing, traditional delicacies, games and of course, ‘ukhane’ wherein the married women take their husband’s name through short rhymes.

There are many more as we explore every state in India. For me it is very hard to choose Hindu sports women in India as women are progressing in all kinds of sports.

After much deliberation I chose Maan Kaur and Saniya Nehwal as they both represent different age groups with the same enthusiast.

50 | P a g e

Saniya Nahiwal

Birth name: Saint Nehwal

Country: India

Born: 17 March 1990 (age 30) in Hisar, , India

Residence: Hyderabad, India

Brief Career:

Saniya was always supported by her parents for her achievements. Especially her mother, who supported her through thick and thin times. At a time, she was not hesitant to snap when she could not achieve. Saniya started playing at the age of 8 and never looked back. She had to travel almost 50 km, every day by rickshaw to reach the badminton court. Since childhood she has adopted a very strict regime, getting up early at 4am and ending the day at 10 pm by practicing hours in court along with ensuring that her academic career does not suffer. At the age of 18 she won her first and stood 10th in the top 100 women badminton champion.

51 | P a g e

Although she never fancied studies, she still managed to complete it in her free time from practice. Her dream is not only to become the world champion, but she would like to inspire other girls to get into sports and make the country proud. According to her, this is also one way to serve the country by doing honest hard work towards the achievement and getting more medals and glory for your motherland.


• Most Promising Player of the Year (2008) award by Badminton World Federation • (2009) • Padma Shri (2010) • Khel Ratna (2009–2010 • (2016)

Saniya is inspiring all new budding girl badminton players. One of the wings of her school in Hyderabad has been named after her and she is very proud of it and so we are.

52 | P a g e

Maan Kaur:

Birth name: Maan Kaur

Country: India

Born :1st (age 104) in India

Residence Chandigarh, India

Brief Career

Maan Kaur is also known as “Miracle of Chandigarh/mom/grandma”.

Kaur’s will, enthusiasm and efforts have made her achieve this commendable feat. Her story is also the story of the impeccable spirit and bond of this mother- son duo which in a way also educates the society, wherein many children abandon their elderly parents and leave them wailing in misery. Mann Kaur started running on the track when she was 90 years old after that she participated in many master championships like , javelin, 60-meters dash, 200-meter run. Above all the health issue she kept her regimen and practiced by eating healthy food. She wakes up at 4 am, bathes, completes the house chores, prays and then she goes to the track for an hour of sprinting practice. Initially she had to travel more than 40 miles to the nearest university,

53 | P a g e

ॐ which allowed her to run on their running track for practice. Even after all the difficulties and struggle this centenarian has not stopped from becoming a world-renowned sprinter. She surely is a role model to all women who need to think that age is nothing but just a number.


• She was awarded with (2020) • 32 Gold medals • World master champion -Malaga, Spain.

Mann Kaur is also the oldest person in the world to walk along the top of Auckland sky tower.

Now she is setting her eyes for her next achievement which is the gold medal in for World master champion.

Megha Basingstoke

54 | P a g e


A Mother of Orphaned Children

India is the second most populated country in the world and a significant part of this population are children. But it is the fact that a lot of children are usually orphaned or abandoned. They are forced to live in poverty.

The story of Sindhutai Sapkal is an evidence of similar dejection. She was born on 14 November 1948 in the district of Maharashtra. Her family’s profession was cattle grazing. She was considered unneeded and named ‘Chindi’, which means a torn cloth, by the society.

At the age of nine, she was married to a man twenty years older than her in . After marriage she faced a difficult life, but she did not lose

55 | P a g e

ॐ hope. In her new home, she fought against the exploitation of local women, who collected cow dung, by the forests department and landlords.

At the young age of twenty, when she was nine months pregnant, she was beaten badly and left to die by her husband. She gave birth to a baby girl Mamta in that semi-conscious state in a cow shelter, outside their house that night.

Following that incident, she was made to leave home and she was begging on the streets and railway platforms to survive. Because she feared being picked up by men at night, she often spent the night at cemeteries, so people were calling her ghost. Her mother refused to shelter her. She had to set aside the thought of suicide and started begging on railway platforms for food.

During this time, she realised that there were so many children abandoned by their parents and she adopted them as her own and started begging even more vigorously to feed them. She decided to become a mother to anyone and everyone who came across to her as an orphan. She later donated her biological child to the trust Shrimant Dagdu Sheth Halwai, Pune, only to eliminate the feeling of partiality between her daughter and the adopted ones.

She has devoted her entire life to orphans. As a result, she is fondly called ‘Maai'(mother). She has adopted over 1,200 orphaned children. She still continued to fight for the next meal. Many of the children whom she adopted are well-educated lawyers and doctors, and some, including her biological daughter, are running their own independent orphanages. 56 | P a g e

She has been honoured with over 750 awards for her dedication and work. Recently on International Women’s Day 2018, President Ram Kovind honoured women achievers with Nari Shakti Puraskar. She used award money to buy land to make a home for her children.

At the age of 80, her husband came back to her apologetically. She accepted him as her child stating that she is only a mother now! When people visit her ashram, she proudly and very affectionately introduces him as her oldest child.

Even today, at the age of 71, Sindhutai Sapkal works relentlessly to shape the future of these orphans because she believes that a deprived child means a deprived nation. I chose this woman because of her devotion towards orphaned children to bring them into the mainstream of life.

Manisha Pimple Durga Shakha | Reading

57 | P a g e

Before starting my actual topic, I would like to talk briefly about . It is the third largest and widely accepted religion in the world. Hinduism in my opinion is more about what you actually do (sewa of any type) than the written facts. In simplicity believe in (doing) & Reincarnation. What sort of seed you sow in this life accordingly will have great impact in future life?

Now I am going to move towards my actual research about respected Hindu women called Savitribai Phule, born in 1831. Firstly, she was well known for the social reformist movement & in born Educationist. She was the first female teacher in India, particularly in Maharashtra.

Truly speaking I admire her passion towards women education & become a first teacher to teach (other backward class). Savitribai was not only a teacher to

58 | P a g e

ॐ all castes but has worked to abolish the discrimination & inequality based on caste & gender. In other terms opened up education (Utthan) for all castes. To educate women in the family is a transformation to the whole society.

If we consider her, she had no education at all when she married . Savitribai completed her primary education with her husband at home. Then she did her secondary education with help from other friends. Even learning all after marriage was a real revolution in those days. Afterwards she completed her teachers training programme & became a first qualified female teacher & headmistress. Then, firstly started 3 different schools in Pune (Maharashtra) in 1848.

In the era of 1849 obviously movement of education to all females was not easily accepted phenomena, for her own family as well as society. Caste system was so prominent that only were welcomed to study. As a couple they opened 18 schools & educated various children from different castes. In my opinion a great example of removal of hierarchical system. Savitribai not only opened schools but started care homes for pregnant rape victims & saving children as well as giving home to orphans. (Sewa)

Savitribai was also a great poet. She published a group of different poems called Marathi Kavya Phule in 1854. Her famous poem is Go, get education & be self- reliant. Her famous saying: “Awake, Arise & Educate”. Savitribai & Jyotirao helped in formation of Satyashodhak Samaj which initiated marriage without dowry. She tirelessly worked to uplift women from sexual exploitation. Later on,

59 | P a g e

ॐ they set up a home for the welfare of widows & their children to make sure they are safe & not exploited.

In conclusion, I fully salute her work on uplifting & raising all women by giving strength, power & confidence through educating ourselves. Savitribai enlightened all women to stand on your own feet so we all are capable of creating a courageous generation.

Suvarna Khare Durga Shakha | Reading

60 | P a g e

ॐ Sudha Murthy

A Role Model for all Generations

Sudha Murthy, Sudha Murthy, an iconic woman, is an inspiration for all women in this modern age. She is a determined achiever, a globetrotter, a resilient philanthropist, a brilliant engineer, a homemaker, a teacher, and a prolific author. She is popular for her benevolent work through the Foundation and is a member of the public healthcare initiatives of the Gates Foundation. She has single-handedly pursued the move towards Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and has urged the corporate world to contribute towards the upliftment of downtrodden people. She has worked to change the lives of children in the heart of rural by giving them access to food and education. She has also worked with many organizations for women empowerment. Apart from all her social work, she is a great teacher and has taught Computer Science. She is also a renowned author of many fiction novels. Moreover, instead of running behind the worldly desires of designer dresses and expensive beauty care, she has

61 | P a g e

ॐ chosen to don a simple traditional Indian look and always emphasizes on reading and learning.

We take inspiration from her philanthropy and her simplicity, but Sudha Murthy has played a much bigger and bolder role in life. Her life lessons are true inspiration for all the generations.

Early Life and Education

Sudha Murthy was born in Shiggaon in Northern Karnataka on 19th August 1950. Her father Dr. R.H was a surgeon and her mother Vimla Kulkarni was a school teacher. She hailed from a middle-class family and her parents were extremely supportive. In a men-only study program, she faced ridicule and questions on her choice to pursue Engineering. However, her parents' relentless support and her own eagerness to study meant that she did not deter from her decision. Sudha became the first woman to enrol in engineering when it was considered a male only domain.

It was a male dominated institution so there were no toilets for women on campus. While being the only female among 150 students, she remained unaffected by any harassment and focused on her studies to achieve a bigger goal in life. Sudha has said that she never missed a class because she knew that nobody was going to help her. This experience made her self-sufficient and gave her courage to talk to boys on equal terms. She completed a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from the B.V.B. College of Engineering and Technology. Being an outstanding student, she received a Gold Medal from the Chief Minister of Karnataka. She pursued a Masters degree in Computer Science at the Indian Institute of Science and again

62 | P a g e

ॐ received a Gold Medal from the Indian Institute of Engineers for excelling in her studies.

Mrs. Sudha Murthy says "It doesn't matter how intelligent you are, how well off you are, or how well-connected you are. Your perseverance, your courage - if you keep that intact, only such people will always be successful”.

After completing her Masters, Sudha had planned to pursue higher studies abroad but a TELCO advertisement caught her attention; it said, “Female candidates need not apply”. She did not appreciate this and wrote a postcard to JRD Tata commenting on the ‘Men only’ gender bias at TELCO, asking how an innovative company like the TATA could put such a restriction. She not only received an interview call with a paid trip but was also hired on the spot for her excellent performance. Thus, she became the first female engineer at TELCO. She worked as a Development Engineer and worked in various locations like Mumbai, Pune, and Jamshedpur.

While working at TELCO in Pune, she met Mr Narayana Murthy, founder of Infosys Technologies. They married in 1978. Instead of just the bride’s family as would be expected, the two families shared equally in the payment of the wedding ceremony

In 1981, Narayana Murthy realized his big dream, Infosys, which is one of the biggest names in software consulting today. During the inception of Infosys, one choice that Sudha Murthy made which makes her a unique individual was her relentless support of her husband. It wasn’t easy to start a completely different life with no business background, yet she decided to fully support her husband. Mr Murthy was a man with vision but with very limited money. She was committed to helping him realize his dream and invested a large part of her savings. In the interim period of the company’s development, she promised to

63 | P a g e

ॐ take care of the family’s financial needs. She had the choice to join Infosys but she chose to stay back. It was a hard decision for Sudha to give up her career at this point, but she thought over what would be best for them; she decided to be the supportive homemaker by taking on the responsibility of the family on her shoulder.

When Narayana Murthy converted their home into an Infosys office and worked there with his colleagues, she took on a job as Senior Systems Analyst with Walchand Group of Industries to keep financially strong. She worked as a cook, a clerk, and a programmer for Infosys when the company was taking shape.

Sudha Murthy as A Philanthropist

Sudha met JRD TATA when she was leaving TELCO. He expressed surprise that she was giving up the job for which she had fought so hard. When she told him that she was going to join her husband to build Infosys, the words he then said to her have been with her since:

“You are a trustee of money and it always changes hands. When you are successful, give it back to the society that gave you so much goodwill”.

These words later came to be the source of inspiration behind which she currently runs in Karnataka, , Orissa, and . In 1996, she became one of the trustees of the Infosys Foundation to help strengthen the less-privileged sections of society. Through this role, she has helped build hospitals, rehabilitation centres, school buildings, orphanages, over 3500 libraries, 10,000 toilets and 2300 houses in flood-ravaged areas.

Sudha is always on the move; her travels have taken her to over 800 villages. She has handled tsunami relief work in Tamil Nadu and Andamans, the earthquake-

64 | P a g e

ॐ stricken areas in Gujarat, floods in Andhra Pradesh and Orissa and drought in Maharashtra and Karnataka. Her work also covers women empowerment, public hygiene, art and culture, education and healthcare. Sudha firmly believes that Indian corporates should “do much more for the society,” particularly in education and health.

The seeds of charity work were planted in Sudha by her family. Her parents used to offer beneficence generously. She believes that charity is not just about donating money but rather that charity is that which could empower and improve the nation. In the words of Sudha Murthy,

“Donating 100 crore isn’t more valuable than teaching 100 children”.

Despite being one of the richest women in India, Sudha is unaffected by wealth and works from her spartan office at the Infosys Foundation, where she herself plans her daily work.

“Money can give you certain comfort, but money has limited use. And once you realise that, money becomes a burden to you. You donate it. Money is a heavy bag on your back and you should lead a simple lightweight life”, says Sudha firmly.

Sudha Murthy as a Writer

Sudha Murthy was brought up in a village with few facilities. Her affection towards writing was the result of the lack of entertainment sources in her village and her educationist parents. Sudha started reading and writing from a very young age. Writing began as recreation under the direction of her mother. Eventually, it turned into an occupation.

65 | P a g e

Her writing had a flavour of common lives. She wrote on hospitality, her childhood, realizing views on donations and charity. At the age of 29, she visited the U.S.A all alone to publish her first book. Sudha dedicated her first book to her husband Narayana Murthy. Her works are a mirror of her heart and mind. Some of the books have been translated into English while some have been translated into TV series. Her most acclaimed books are: How I Taught My Grandmother to Read, Mahashweta, The Day I Stopped Drinking Milk, Wise and Otherwise, Grandma’s Bag of stories, The Mother I Never Knew and Dollar Bahu.

All her writings are a blend of her experiences and observations. Sudha Murthy has scribbled several travelogues, technical books, children’s books, and novels. Sudha Murthy's short stories are exclusively very famous.

Awards and Recognition

From the start of her education, she has won many prestigious awards. She was recognized for the Raja-Lakshmi award by the Sri Raja-Lakshmi Foundation in Chennai in 2004. She won many awards for her outstanding performance in Social works. She won the Padma Shri, the fourth highest Civilian Award of India, for her contribution to the economy and social welfare, the R.K Narayan award for Literature in 2006 and the Attimabbe Award in 2011.

A Compassionate Hindu Mahila

An Epitome of Simplicity and Exceptional Values, Sudha Murthy has seen things differently in her life. She is one who followed a vision and not a path. Her optimism and simplicity have changed the norms. She has boosted mankind forward through her philanthropy and powerful writings. Sudha Murthy has

66 | P a g e

ॐ always inspired everyone to lead a simple life and to listen to their conscience. She believes the beauty of a person lies in simplicity and confidence. She says live life for yourself and not for others. Every human being should run their own marathon.

Sudha Murthy believes that one must believe in one’s strength, own weaknesses, and one’s way of thinking to accomplish one’s goal. Her idea of life has always been one that does not give value to materialistic thoughts and possessions. Humble by nature, she strongly believes in modesty and knowledge, the two assets which help people grow in life.

A Karma- by nature, she is a true exponent of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, the philosophy of Sanatana Dharma that inculcates an understanding that the whole world is one family. She has been persistent in making the world a compassionate place.

In conclusion, simplicity is the best jewellery she wears. She is simple yet dynamic. She is a revolutionary yet obedient. She is bold yet humble. She is benevolent. She is intelligent and strong. She is confident. She is an inspiration to all women in the modern age.

Anupama Kamath Bharati Shakha | Newbury

67 | P a g e

ॐ Sudha Murthy

Sudha Murthy is an author of Kannada and English books, as well as a social worker. She is the wife of N. R. Narayan Murthy, co-founder of Infosys, however she is famous for her humble mannerism, calm and profound writings, and social impact. She was born in Karnataka, to a Brahmin family in August 1950. Her father, Sh. R. H. Kulkarni, was a surgeon and Mother Smt. Vimala Kulkarni was a housewife. She completed B.Eng. in Electrical and Electronics Engineering and was awarded with a gold medal for standing first in class. Then she finished M.Eng. in Computer Science and again was rewarded with Gold medal for being first in class. She became the first female engineer hired by India’s largest auto manufacturer TELCO, now .

In 1978, she married N.R. Narayan Murthy. The couple has two children - daughter Akshata Murthy and son Rohan Murthy. Akshata Murthy is married to Sunak, current Finance Minister of UK.

She is chairperson of Infosys Foundation, which is a public charitable trust founded in 1996. The foundation supports programs in the areas of education,

68 | P a g e

ॐ rural development, healthcare, arts and culture, and destitute care. The foundation has built 2300 houses in the flood affected areas.

She is a member of the public health care initiatives of the Gates Foundation and has also founded several orphanages. She initiated a bold move to introduce computer and library facilities in all schools in Karnataka with government aid and this has resulted in setting up 70,000 libraries so far.

Her social work covers healthcare, public hygiene, art and culture, education, empowerment of women, and poverty alleviation at the grassroots level. She helped out rural areas by building 16000 public toilets and several hundred toilets in city Bengaluru.

Her work has been recognised by multiple awards; she was awarded with ‘Best Teacher Award’ in 1995 from Rotary club at Bengaluru. The Government of Karnataka awarded her the prestigious literary award, ‘Attimabbe Award’ for her literary work for the year 2011-2012. Also, she was awarded the fourth highest Indian civilian award – Padma Shri – in 2006.

Sudha Murthy, being a renowned author has published many stories and her writing has touched common lives. She wrote on her childhood, hospitality, realizing views on donations and charity. Her many Kannada books got translated into various other languages. One of her Famous works is ‘’ How I taught my grandmother to read and other stories’’, which has been translated into 15 other languages. Her book ‘’Grandma’s Bag of stories’’ is popular among children.Sudha Murthy won India’s fourth highest civilian award Padma Shri.

Shweta Lath Rukmini Shakha | Hounslow

69 | P a g e

ॐ Mrs Sudha Murthy

A Lesson from Life

Many Hindu women have made selfless contributions for the betterment and upliftment of the society and the community. One such name amongst all the other respected women is the Padma Shri awarded Mrs Sudha Murthy.

She is presently a philanthropist and one of the most celebrated Indian writers. She has written about more than 35 books in Kannada and English each. She is also the chairman of the Infosys Foundation. Professionally she has completed engineering from , a place in Karnataka. She was the only female in college doing engineering. She was the first female engineer hired by Tata Motors, where she met her husband Narayan Murthy. When these two thinking and ardent minds came together, that was when the journey of Infosys began.

Having read some of her articles and interviews, I found that her journey is really motivating. Coming from a very small village, she is one of the first females to get her engineering done and join Tata which is an esteemed organisation. When Narayan Murthy decided to start with Infosys, she had been the backbone to support him to chase his dreams and ambitions. She was as strong as a rock and made sure that he was not worried on the financial front for the family. They then left Pune and moved to , where she worked shoulder to shoulder with

70 | P a g e

Narayan Murthy to build Infosys up. She then realised as any other ordinary mother, that she had to step down and look after her family.

Infosys Foundation, Karnataka, India is a non-profit organisation which supports the underprivileged sections of society. It works for the betterment of different areas of Education - primarily in the rural India; Arts and Culture - Promoting the traditional art, dance, craft and giving it recognition; Destitute Care - to help the poor, live with dignity and earn a livelihood and Rural Development - undertaking awareness campaigns on hygiene and sanitation.

It is her vision and desire to contribute her skills for the upliftment of the poor and unfortunate parts of rural India. Sudha Murthy chairs such a valued organisation and makes sure it works towards its objectives and goals. She gives her heart and soul into every project they handle. She has visited many different rural areas and connected with all the people there. One can see her dedication and the personal touch she gives to every programme they support.

I was reading one of the article dated July 2011, in ‘The Hindu’ newspaper, where Sudha Murthy had said that JRD Tata had given her an advice that, ‘’when you are successful and have loads of money, give it back to the society that gave you so much goodwill’’. We can still see that she follows this advice even today, helping the needy and the deprived with expecting nothing in return.

One of her other significant contributions to society is her books she has written, in her native language Kannada and also in English. The books are about family,

71 | P a g e

ॐ love, social issues, her journeys, her life stories, her childhood incidents, folk tales, and tales from Indian mythology.

To just name a few are ‘The day I stopped Drinking Milk’; ‘Dollar bahu’; ‘How I taught my Grandmother to Read’ and many more. Many of her books have an inspirational appeal. Almost all her books are a series of short stories about her own experience with the poor she had met during her visits. All those experiences with them had taught her so many values of life, which she cherished and adapted into her own life. One such example is that she gave up drinking milk, when she met an underprivileged family on a school project in a small village in Orissa.

The books are written in such simple language, easy to read and understand for any age group. I enjoy reading her books and so do my kids. They are still young, but hopefully they have learnt some things which they can apply when they are older.

In spite of the fact that she was academically and professionally qualified, she did step down and made sure her husband followed and accomplished his dreams. She also ensured she was a homemaker when her kids needed her most.

When I was thinking of someone, whom I would choose to write about, I had many names in my mind who have been inspirational in many ways to all of us. This lady, Sudha Murthy, with loads of riches under her feet, could live a lavish and luxurious life and fondly be recognised as the wife of Narayan Murthy. But, 72 | P a g e

ॐ did she do that? No, she did not. She chose otherwise. She created her own identity. As the Chairman of the Infosys Foundation, she had done countless noble and selfless activities and is still continuing them, at the age of 70. We all know Sudha Murthy for all the books she has written, her work she has done in many rural parts of India and the help she has provided to the underprivileged people, and yes of course, the wife of the CEO of Infosys.

I am inspired by her simplicity, her honesty, her values, her talks, her laughs, the way she dresses, the way she jokes around, her travels, her knowledge about the society, her love for , her passion to uplift the rural parts of India and many more attributes are truly inspiring for me and many other women today.

I pray to God to give me the strength and humbleness like her to do at least 10% of what she has done to the community. My heart bows down with sheer respect. Salute to you Mrs Sudha Murthy!!!

Sonali Subhedar Durga Shakha, Reading

73 | P a g e

ॐ M S Subbulakshmi

Who is the first ever musician to be awarded the , highest civilian award of India? Who is the first Indian musician to receive the Ramon Magsaysay award, which is often considered Asia’s Nobel Prize? Who was the first Indian musician to perform in the General Assembly?

It is none other than the legendary singer M S Subbulakshmi! She is one of the few who have crossed over from being esoteric to a household name.

Even today, thousands of Indians start their day with her mellifluous rendition of “Shri Venkateshwar Suprabhatam” and it has been an introduction to itself as a genre to millions.

Lata Mangeshkar called her “Tapaswini”, Ustad termed her “Suswaralakshmi” and labelled her the ultimate eighth note or “Aathuvaan Sur”, which is above the seven notes basic to all music. The great national leader and poet called her "Nightingale of India". Her many famous renditions of include the chanting of Bhaja Govindam, Sahasranama, Hari Tuma Haro and the Suprabhatam.

Subbulakshmi’s music was known to be steeped in Bhakthi and devotion. While she sang the Meera Bhajans, it was as though she was Meera calling upon the

74 | P a g e

ॐ spirit of her . Perhaps this devotion is what her audiences glimpsed in her iconic role of Meerabai in the movie Meera.

Subbulakshmi acted in five films in a film career that lasted a decade.

Born in the temple town of on the 16th of September in 1916, M.S. Subbulakshmi was introduced to music at a young age by her mother. Her mother Shanmukavadiver Ammal, used to play Veena and was a regular stage performer. This exposed M.S. Subbulakshmi to a lot of music concerts and artiste and inspired her young mind.

She started learning Carnatic music at an early age and trained under the tutelage of Semmangudi Srinivasa and subsequently in Hindustani music under Pandit Narayanrao Vyas. She gave her first public performance at the age of 11, in 1927, in the 100-pillar hall inside the Rockfort Temple, Tiruchirapalli. And her first performance at the prestigious Madras Music Academy in 1929 was when she was 13 years old.

She was bestowed with many prestigious awards and recognitions including Padma Bhushan, , Bharat Ratna, Sangeet Natak Akademi award, Ramon Magsaysay award and award for National Integration.

At the time when the Carnatic music field was dominated by male artists, she was breaking stereotypes. She rose above all barriers and became a world-famous

75 | P a g e

ॐ artist. Her concerts were always houseful and audiences would throng to concert venues just to get a glimpse of the lady in blue

Subbulakshmi lived with a motto: earn to give. While accepting the Ramon Magsaysay award in Manila in 1974, she said, "If I have done something in this respect, it is entirely due to the grace of the almighty who has chosen my humble self as a tool.” She donated her entire prize money from the Award to several welfare schemes! The Kancheepuram Saree shade known as MS Blue was named after her. In 2005, a postage stamp of Subbulakshmi was released. Later, the United Nations also issued a stamp in her honour to commemorate her birth centenary.

Subbulakshmi’s music crossed borders as well – geographical and metaphorical. In the 1960s Subbulakshmi performed across the globe, including the , , the USA, and . She played a large role in spreading the concepts of Carnatic music to the Western world where only a few knew about its complexities.

She breathed her last on 11th December 2004 but has left for us incredible jewels of Indian music to enjoy. We are lucky indeed if we are able to introduce such rich culture to our future generations.

Geetali Khatri Shaka | Amersham

76 | P a g e

ॐ Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw CEO of Biocon India


Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, the Founder and Chairman at Biocon India Ltd, is often held up as the poster-girl of Indian women entrepreneurship. As the chairman and managing director of Biocon India Group, Kiran led a pioneering enterprise that utilised India’s homegrown scientific talent to make breakthroughs in clinical research.


Kiran was not always the kind of leader that we see today in her. She did not reflect the leadership characteristics during the early days of her life when she used to be a quiet child, diligent and good at her studies. Despite having graduated from Bangalore University in the field of Zoology with the top rank, she was always keen to follow her interests to do something unconventional and different. Hence, she decided to follow her father’s advice to study the science of brewing and take up the career of a woman brewer.

On completion of her course in one of the universities in Australia, she returned to India as a certified Master Brewer, brimming with confidence and all set to join the brewing sector. She ran into difficulties while searching for a job as the sector was not open to women brewers then. The fact hit her hard when she realised

77 | P a g e

ॐ that there was a gender challenge to make people accept a woman brewer as a professional.

However, Kiran was one of those women who would not give up and she went on to work as a trainee manager in Ireland to learn the fundamentals of enzyme- manufacturing.

The Beginning

Kiran setup Biocon India in 1978 as a biotechnology company manufacturing industrial enzymes used in the brewing industry.

Enzyme technology was new in India and Kiran was excited by the prospect that she could help by bringing in sophistication to the methods of brewing used in the industry.

In the beginning, she was just making enzymes for the brewing industry and others in India. However, with her stubborn conviction in her business, the scaling of her business was quite rapid. Within a year of starting up the company she began exporting enzymes to the and Europe and thus Biocon became the first Indian company to accomplish this feat.

Within 3 years of setting up her company, she realised that Biocon would be a game changing venture and in 1983, she went ahead to set up a facility to promote research in the field of biotechnology.

In 1990, Biocon’s in-house research program was upgraded based on proprietary, solid state substrate fermentation technology. That year she set up Biocon Biopharmaceuticals Private Limited to make a select range of biotherapeutics in a joint venture with the Cuban Centre of Molecular Immunology. 78 | P a g e

Affordable healthcare in Bio-Pharma

Kiran wanted to expand her business into the biopharmaceutical space. In 1994 she set up Syngene International as a subsidiary of Biocon to undertake custom research for the pharma sector. In 1996, Biocon made its debut in the bio- pharmaceuticals segment with the manufacture of statins which are a class of drugs used to lower cholesterol levels.

In 2000, Kiran floated a second subsidiary Clinigene to pursue clinical research and development. Clinigene was India’s first clinical research organization and in 2001, Biocon became the first Indian Company to have a USFDA approved facility for manufacturing Lovastatin through its proprietary technology.

The product that Kiran had started off with – Enzymes – was no longer core to the company. By now it had rapidly transformed into a full-fledged biopharma firm. In 2004, Biocon launched INSUGEN, the new generation bio-insulin which changed the landscape of medical care for diabetes patients, offering them truly affordable treatment.

Similarly, in 2006, Biocon launched India’s first anticancer drug developed in India, BioMabEGFR, reflecting Biocon’s strong intent to bring in new and affordable products to Indian patients.

Affordable healthcare has been at the top of Kiran’s agenda, particularly availability of drugs at a lower cost. Biocon has a range of branded formulations covering diabetes, cancer, kidney diseases, cardiology, and auto-immune diseases.

Kiran’s vision is clear: to make healthcare affordable for all. This goal is evident in her most recent undertaking: confounding in 2019 the start-up Immune Therapeutics, which is engineering T cells to seek and destroy cancer—a

79 | P a g e

ॐ technology known as CAR-T therapy. Her hope is to make this cutting-edge therapy affordable and accessible. According to Mazumdar-Shaw, “Health Care is not about billions of dollars but about benefiting billions of patients around the world.”


As one of the heroes of philanthropy, since 2005, she is donated some $33 million to philanthropic causes, and diagnosing and researching disease like cancer and caring for patients has been a big part of this.

The centrepiece has been the 1,400-bed Mazumdar-Shaw Cancer Center, built in 2009 in Bangalore and specializing in head and neck, breast, and blood-related cancers. In 2011 she further added a centre for advanced therapeutics with a bone marrow transplant unit.

In 2015, she joined The Giving Pledge, promising that at least half of her wealth will be dedicated to philanthropy.


Kiran Mazumdar Shaw is recognized for leading the biotech revolution in India. Her contribution to biotechnology in India has been recognized with the Padma Shri (1989) and the Padma Bhushan (2005), two of India’s very prestigious civilian honours. She has also been the recipient of several national, International Awards as well as honorary doctorates from international universities.

80 | P a g e

Leadership Lessons

Leadership is about the ability to influence change and Kiran, though faced very strong resistance to change during the early days of her career, had the determination to overcome all challenges and emerge as a successful leader to influence the lives of billions with affordable healthcare.

Here are top lessons that I have learnt from Kiran Mazumdar Shaw’s endeavours

• Dedication – Ability to persevere no matter how hard it is, achieving the goal. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw started as a brewer and showed the dedication to achieve new heights in doing things which were unconventional. • Resilience to criticism - It is her ability to fight back criticism that kept her growing in her profession. She wanted to be a master brewer in India, but nobody hired her saying it is a “man’s job”. This did not deter her from moving on and forward. • Risk-taking ability- She possessed the courage and a dare-to-take-risk attitude which showed when, despite lack of funds, she continued to struggle and find ways to grow and scale up her business.

Jayashree Sanyal Bharti Shakha | Newbury

81 | P a g e

ॐ Mangala Gauri

I am about to take you on a journey to the wonderful, rich Indian tradition and culture. The first introduction of Mangala Gauri to me at age of 8 years still has memories when my mother used to dress me up in the best colourful sari and best was a delicious mouth-watering food along with the earthy scent of rain during Sravan month.

Mangala Gauri is a festival celebrated by Maharashtrian newlywed brides in the month of Sarvanana, every Tuesday following worship of Goddess Parvati with a belief to get the happiness and prosperity of themselves and family. Following, women play Mangla Gauri games.

Origin of Mangala Gauri was a great opportunity for women to express joy and have fun. Mangala Gauri festival was introduced to keep women healthy, strong, and connected to extremely strong traditional roots. It was also a good reason to give freedom for women and a break to do from their daily chores.

There are more than 100 different games played in Mangala Gauri, these games are structured in such a way it provides you full body and mental workout, these games prove to be great stress busters for women. Some of games played are following: -

82 | P a g e

• Padmasana Fugdi: Sitting in a padmasana and then moving in circles, holding hands with a partner. • Kombda: Squatting, entangling legs with one another and racing around. • Gathoda: Sitting with folded legs and rotating on the floor in formations. • Vadali Hodi: Entangled formations of participants depicting a ship battling a storm. • Zhimma: Rhythmic and clapping game. • Kikicha Paan: A swift change-over of movements from standing formations to learning and sitting steps and corresponding and sitting steps with corresponding neck moves. • Sasu-sunichi-bhangad: In which Daughter-in-law or Mother-in-law criticize each other in fun, it seems like a good stress buster exercise and women were able to easily express themselves without hurting anyone's feelings.

• Gopni gop: In this all ladies hold sarees usually they are in groups of 30 to 40 women while singing traditional folk songs they move in such a manner

that in the end it makes a beautiful creation, it needs a lot of skill.

There are several pair games, group games and many traditional songs which increases the coordination, trust, and interpersonal relationships not only this it enhances writing and poetic skills.

83 | P a g e

In olden days women used to learn these games from family, friends, and relatives and these games are a very good form of exercise which requires fitness, stamina, but while these old ages festivities prevail knowledge of these games are declined among modern families encouraging the rise of professional Mangala Gauri agencies

Many agencies and clubs have been found in recent year and women are pursuing it as a career, women who performed not only finding pleasure playing these games but also finding themselves economically independent. Current performance of the ceremony is to retain a way of our culture and tradition. Modernization is swallowing Hindu traditional values aggressively from society, retaining and celebrating Mangala Gauri gives a hope to retain and nurture rich traditional values and significance. We must make all efforts to pass on to the younger generation to retain it for further ages and make it stronger. It is equally important to teach our kids about our culture and tradition.

It is vital that kids know their roots and have a sense of pride about it. By playing Indian traditional games, children can connect with their heritage through sports and this has a deep lifelong positive impact on them helping them to strategize and resolve their differences and these games don’t require expensive equipment to play and need normal household probes.

84 | P a g e

Let us make a real effort to impart the knowledge, significance of Mangala Gauri festivals and give them a sense of pride in our traditional game, festivals and to adopt and promote it.

Basa Fugadi

Om Kala Niketan performance team – Mumbai

Sanghamitra Mehra Durga Shakha | Basingstoke

85 | P a g e

Girija Devi, popularly known as Appaji was a legendary singer/vocalist and a master of the Purab ang gayaki of the “Banaras Gharana”. She was equally adept at singing khayal and dhrupad to the folk forms of , jhoola, , tappa, kajri, dadra and chaiti. She received the Padam Shri in 1972, Padma Bhushan in 1989 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2016.

She was born in a zamindar family at a village near Banaras in 1929. Her guru were Pandit Sarju Prasad and Pandit Mishra. She made her debut in 1949 at a recital broadcast by the All India Radio in . This was with the consent of her husband and against the wishes of her mother and grandmother who believed that upper caste women do not sing in public. The only condition that her husband had placed was that she could sing before the public but would not do any private concerts.

Girija Devi was very passionate about initiating musicians into folk traditions. She had introduced the Guru Shishya parampara at the ITC Research Academy, where she was a teacher from its inception in the early 1990’s. She returned to Varanasi after 12 years, and was a visiting Professor at BHU. She was also running a trust to support poor students and aged artistes.

86 | P a g e

She would always address her audience in an informal witty way leaving them in splits with her typical banarsi humour. Her rendition of the emotions of jealousy, frustration, flirting, calmness, or passion behind every word in a thumri were magical. According to her some of the bhavas are so delicate that they have no names but you as an artist have to feel them and make your listener feel them as well, so you need to arrive at your own understanding of the different shades of , prem, virah and shanti.

Her students include Dalia Rahut, Jayita Pandey, Satyanarayan Mishra, the son of her own guru Pandit Sarju Prasad, and Sunanda Sharma to name a few.

Mitalee Prakash Maya Shakha | Amersham

87 | P a g e

ॐ Geeta Iyengar

Illuminating Lives with Yoga. A Dedicated Yoga Teacher

Yoga is one of the many arts, skills and creative activities pursued by human beings throughout history. Yoga is an art that we can engage with and transform ourselves. Yoga has been translated as union, the bringing together of body, heart and mind. Like all arts, to become skilled in Yoga requires discipline, determination and good guidance.

Geeta Iyengar, who was described as "the world's leading female yoga teacher",was the daughter of Yogacharya B. K. S. Iyengar, the founder of the worldwide Iyengar yoga method.

At each stage of a woman’s life, her body undergoes physical and psychological changes. Geeta believed that the practice of yoga can be modified and adapted to suit changing needs of women, which can help in achieving peace of mind and bodily poise. She developed specific , pranayama, and sequences for different stages in a woman's life including menstruation, pregnancy, postpartum, and menopause. Age cannot be a problem coming in the way of practice. One needs to have strong willpower in their practice. She suggested using props that are of great help to those who may struggle, enabling poses to be achieved with less effort.

She insisted that Yoga in the correct hands and perhaps, through experimentation can be used to deal with specific ailments and problems, such as a bad back, digestive disorders and headache. She had an acute sense of observation combined with for her students. Her insightful teaching

88 | P a g e

ॐ has helped many women through difficult phases of womanhood. She has taught thousands of students from all over the world, at special conventions in the Americas, Australia, and Europe.

She has authored two books “Yoga – A Gem for Women” which is now translated into several languages and “Yoga in action – Preliminary Course” forms the syllabus at her institute. Her six-decades-long commitment to the subject of yoga has been something which will now inspire generations of practitioners. She insisted, Yoga should be enjoyed as an art with discipline.

The speed of modern life causes physical and mental stress. Geeta demonstrated how the practice of asanas & pranayama can be applied as a most effective natural therapy for relieving stress.

Her inspiring life came to an end in December 2018 at the age of 74.

Her message for everyone to remember – “Words fail to convey the total value of yoga. It has to be experienced”

Smita Kale Maya Samiti Shakha | Amersham

89 | P a g e

ॐ Dr Smt Kanak Rele

Born in Gujarat in 1937, Dr Smt. Kanak Rele has become one of the most prestigious Mohini Attam Dancers and Teachers worldwide. Being trained under

Shri Karunakar Pannikar at the age of 7 in the dance form, Kanakben Began her career as one of India’s finest Classical dancers.

However, being a master of Kathakali was only the beginning for her. She also attained an International Law Degree from the University of Manchester and is a qualified Lawyer. Kanakben’s accolades are not limited to her Law career. Through her dance career she has won Padmashree, Padmabhushan and Sangeet Natak Academy amongst many other notable dance awards. Not only is Kanakben renowned for her prolific career as a dancer, but also as a teacher and mentor.

In 1967 she founded Nalanda Dance Research Centre educating many students the arts of Kathakali, Mohiniattam and Bharatnatyam, at a Degree and Master’s level, being affiliated with Mumbai University. During her career as an academic she has written “ – The Lyrical Dance” and “Bhaava Niroopanna” and was an Editor of “Handbook of Indian Dance Terminology.”

In 1970 Kanakben received Ford Foundation grant to film a performance of traditional Mohini Attam. Due to Kanakben’s diligent analysis of the film she was

90 | P a g e

ॐ able to create the basis of the dance as we know today. A true pioneer of the art form. With her prowess in Mohiniyattam Kanakben has provided dancers with a great repertoire.

I have been privileged to have learnt under her guidance from the age of 13 and to have travelled with her around the world to perform. One key lesson I have learnt from Kanakben

Anonymous Maya Shakha | Amersham

91 | P a g e

ॐ Lata Mangeshkar Contribution of Legendary Figure

Lata Mangeshkar, the golden name that speaks about her and her outstanding family’s greatest contribution to Hinduism in the field of singing. Lata ji is a well renowned, remarkable, and most respected Indian playback singer, music composer and music director who is known world-wide for her melodious singing.

Lata ji, real name Hema Mangeshkar, was born on 28th September 1929 (present age 90) in a Indore (present Madhya Pradesh, India). She was born in a modest Marathi family. Her parents were Dinanath Mangeshkar (father) and Shevanti (mother), who had great love and passion for Indian music. She was the eldest child in her family. She got the strong foundation for music from her father who was her first and foremost guru (teacher) who started giving her music lessons from the age of five. Though she was quite a talented, hard-working, and

92 | P a g e

ॐ gifted child, music was in her blood. She started to work as an actress in her father’s musical plays. She was a great inspiration for her younger siblings too as they all are now accomplished musicians and singers like Meena, Asha, Usha and Hriday Nath.

In 1942, after the death of her father due to heart disease, she started working as a singer and stage artist in her father’s best friend’s (Master Vinayak) company, Navyug Chitrapat. The Mangeshkar’s moved to Mumbai with the help of Master Vinayak who supported Lata ji to start her acting and singing career. As a teen she struggled hard to support her family and toiled to establish herself as a playback singer in the film industry of 1940’s when the industry was dominated by divas like and Noor Jehan. Lata ji’s first hindi song was ‘Mata Ek Sapoot Ki, Duniya Badal De Tu’ (from Marathi film-Gyabhanu- 1943). From 1945 in Mumbai, she got her music lessons in Hindustani Classical Music from Ustad Aman Ali Khan, along with that she played minor roles with her sister, Asha, in Vinayak’s Hindi movies like Badi Maa (1945) in which she acted as well as she sang a “Mata tere charnon mein”.

After Vinayak’s death Ghulam Haider mentored her singing and became her Godfather. His words and faith in Lata ji changed her life for good as one day a well-known producer Sashadhar Mukherjee, dismissed her voice, then Haider (her guru and god father) responded that in the up-coming years’ producers and directors of Indian cinema would fall at Lata’s feet and beg her to sing to their movies. At the same time, he gave her the first major break with the song “Dil mera toda mujhe kahi ka na choda” (film-Majboor-1948) which gave a kick start to her singing career as the song was a big hit. We can all see that Lata ji proved

93 | P a g e

ॐ her mentor right by her passion, hard-work, perseverance, and dedication. Later she gave one hit after the other, endlessly started with “Aayega aanewala” (Mahal-1949); “Uthaye Jo Unke Sitam” (Andaz-1949) from there her destiny was sealed as she voices the music parts for every leading lady actress ( to and Preity Zinta).

Even the music directors like S D Burman, Madan Mohan and Naushad Ali composed tunes to exploit her wide-ranging potential in singing. Her singing made many films a big hit (Mahal, Barsat, Satyam Shivam Sundaram, etc). Along with films her notable concert performance was a biggest hit, based on poet Pradeep’s patriotic Song- “Aye mere watan ke logon” which not only moved and rolled tears in the eyes of our first Prime Minister (Pdt. Jawahar Lal Nehru) but even now turns people spell bound and heart throbbing.

Lata ji’s list of awards and honours are countless, but few need a special mention. She got six , for her songs “Aaja re pardesi”, “Kahin deep jale kahi dil”, “Aap mujhe acchae lagnae lage”, “Didi tera devar deewana” etc. She got four main Maharashtra state film awards for best playback singer (Sadhi Mansa 1966); Best playback singer (Jait re Jait 1977); Award (1997) and Maharashtra Ratna (2001). Along with these she got the honours – Padam Bhushan (1969); Dada Saheb Phalke Award (1989); Padam Vibhushan (1999); Bharat Ratna (2001); Legion of Honour (2007); and One-time award for Life Time Achievement (2008).

94 | P a g e

As her secret admirer and an active member of her fan club, I know about the things she likes spicy food and Coca-Cola; she loves to watch matches and is a great fan of ; her holiday destination is Los Angeles; her favourite car is Mercedes Benz. But along with these material things I admire her as she is a pure soul, lovable, kind and a true legend who inspired me and millions of other people, that we are our own fortune writer through our right ways, goals in life which can be achieved through hard work and perseverance.

As we see this Nightingale’s career spanned heavily over six decades and she is credited for recording songs for more than 2000 Indian films; 30,000 solo, duet and chorus backed songs recording in 14 Indian languages from 1948, till date as we see her latest news update she dedicated her song to all the front line Covid-19 warriors who are working day and night for the Nation and its people, One Nation One Voice, which she sang united with 100s of singers, in 14 different languages. I salute this outstanding soul who well deserves the Title “Daughter of Nation” Lata Mangeshkar.

Sarika Sharma,

95 | P a g e

ॐ Anju Bhargava

A Journey from a Corporate World to a Hindu American Sewa

Communities (HASC)

There are so many legendary female personalities who have been working restlessly at the forefront for the renaissance of Hinduism and offering selfless service to the society in Bharat, but Anju Bhargava is one of those personalities who has given a new way and identity to Hinduism far away in the western country. It is a true inspiration for people like me who are far away from the motherland and believe in sustaining the core Hindu practices and values within a wider community.

Anju Bhargava is an American Indian with her roots from . She is a founder of Hindu American sewa communities (HASC) and the first American

96 | P a g e

Indian to become a member of President ’s inaugural Advisory Council on a faith-based and neighbourhood partnership. She is based in Livingston Township near New Jersey. She also served in The Community Builder Fellowship under the presidency of .

By profession she is a management consultant. She started her career as a Banker in America. However, the bank for which she worked was sold. In the due course she encountered some eye-opening experiences which made her question her identity as a Hindu in America. In addition to this, one day her two- year old daughter also questioned her why she was different from others. These incidents seeded a strong determination in her to do something to address the issues with the identity of Hindu community. While teaching Indian culture and Hinduism to her daughter, she herself became passionate about it.

In the early 1980s she started working for an organisation; Asian Indian Women in America (AIWA) where later she served as a president. This organisation worked for the welfare of women and helped them with career, health, and other general issues. Through her journey she became a Hindu pujaran and joined Livingston town interfaith clergy association to represent Hindu dharma. She believed that sewa is the foundation to show empathy towards all and brought the concept of sewa in limelight by establishing Hindu American Sewa Communities (HASC) during her membership in President Barack Obama’s inaugural Advisory Council in 2009.

97 | P a g e

As also mentioned in Bhagavad Geeta:

दातव्यमिमत यद्दानं दीयतेऽनुपकारिणे |

देशे काले च पात्रे च तद्दानं सात्त्विकं स्मृति् ||

dātavyam iti yad dānaṁ dīyate ‘nupakāriṇe

deśhe kāle cha pātre cha tad dānaṁ sāttvikaṁ smṛitam

“Service that is given without expecting anything in return at the right place and right time to the person who is worthy of it is a nature of goodness”.

Through HASC, she emphasised on promoting sewa through various platforms. With her sincere efforts, a program called ‘UtsavSewa’ was created which brought an innovative concept of blending vedantic and philosophical aspects of festivals with sewa. It stressed on the idea that festivals were a time to donate those in need. For instance, if is celebrated, then sewa means bringing light in the life of those who are less fortunate than us. Bhargava realised that to lead a strong foundation of dharmic values, youth development is very essential and so under a banner of HASC she held five white house conferences that motivated hundreds of youths to get actively involved in sewa.

The virtual sewa centre concept was the initiative by HASC which focussed on engaging temples for the community development and services. Several temples served as a hub to promote activities like awareness on domestic violence, coordinating yogathons across the country, organising health fairs, conducting interfaith seminars etc. As a founding member of HASC she had been actively

98 | P a g e

ॐ involved in several projects working around Hindu core practices like sewa, yoga and Vedic knowledge across the country. In addition to this, initiatives like MyThali promoted wellness and balanced nutrition by encouraging people to eat traditional Indian meals which consist of carbohydrate (roti), protein(rice and daal), vegetables (salad and curry) and a dairy product (yogurt or buttermilk).

She is indeed a unique personality with the amalgam of a modern vision with a traditional approach.

Far away in the west,

She sowed the seed of the east,

Hindu is her dharma,

Sewa is her karma,

The only name on my lips

Is Anju Bhargava

Dr Deepa Bhatt Durga Shakha | Reading

99 | P a g e

ॐ Lakshmi Agarwal

What Makes You Beautiful

A simple girl with big dreams in life with very few privileges, wanted to become a singer, a 16 year old girl who just wanted to enter in life where she could achieve a lot and then support her family too. A Delhi born girl who decided to study hard so she could convince her parents to pursue singing in life. In a strong patriarchal society where men don't take NO for an answer, she wanted to stand for herself where she could prove that girls can bring pride to their family too.

When she decided to step out to stand independent and confident , she was pulled back with stalking, harassment and brutality by a man, who attacked her with acid on her face to tell her that she will have to face consequences for standing against wrong and evil forces.

She was broken initially but her immense courage made her stand again even after a lot of pain and suffering, not just physically but mentally and emotionally. She is not just a survivor but also a fighter who inspires every woman to stand out even if on her own, never give up in life. She not only fought for her right to justice but also supported the women like her who lost hopes in life after such terrifying incidents.

Lakshmi being born in a poor family, after the attack, her face and body parts disfigured, decided to file a PIL (Public interest Litigation) a law against this acid attack prevention. Her continuous efforts of grassroots campaigning sought justice for her victims. Her petition has led the supreme court to order central

100 | P a g e

ॐ and state governments to regulate the sale of acid and the parliament to enable easier prosecution of acid attack perpetrators.

She was the former director of Chhanv Foundation, an NGO (Non-Government organization) dedicated to helping acid attack survivors in India. In 2014, she received the International Women of courage award from first lady Michelle Obama. She was honoured with the International Women Empowerment Award (2019) from the Ministry of women and child development and UNICEF for her campaign ‘Stop Sale Acid'. Her own foundation not only supports the survivors but also encourages them to be independent in life.

At last I would like to say that in reality most of the people usually do not go beyond the physical features, but inner beauty and hard work is the most important aspect of a woman's beauty. Women should focus on enhancing their capability, confidence, and being themselves, always feel positive, keep working to enhance their personality, and be proud of what they are, that's the real Empowerment of a woman in the 21st . For me, Lakshmi is a real inspiration as she is a strong woman who not only stood up for herself but for others too.

Ravinder Kaur

101 | P a g e

ॐ BK Shivani

Shivani Verma, better known as Sister Shivani of Kumari Sister Shivani, is surely one among the success stories of spiritual teachings. She is a gold medallist in electronic engineering from Pune University in 1994, her contribution through self-realisation and spiritual teachings has surely helped to awaken millions of souls. Shivani Verma was born on 31st May 1972.

After Graduation she served for two years as a lecturer in Bharati Vidyapeeth College of Engineering, Pune. After marriage, when she relocated to Delhi, she started helping her husband’s business in IT. However, she has been practicing Rajyoga meditation and daily spiritual study at Brahma Kumari centre since 1997. She has said that "Studying engineering has taught me to think logically. Education is always helpful."

According to her, Spirituality is inner work which has to be done while doing everything that needs to be done in our outer world. It must be ingrained into our routine because it teaches us the art of right thinking, right behaviour, and right living. These are relevant to every age, every profession, and every individual. The sooner, the better. There is a need to change the widespread wrong notion that spirituality is a path for someone in distress, or for someone who has discharged all his responsibilities.

Her views about how spirituality, science and religion are thought provoking.

She says ‘When I came into spirituality, I initially found it strange. How can God teach? But then I understood that even in science, you start with a hypothesis. Suppose A=B. Once you prove that this is so, you write, therefore A=B. I asked

102 | P a g e

ॐ myself, why not take all they say as a hypothesis and experiment with it? That is how it is done in science. You start with a belief, experiment with it, get the results and then it becomes the truth. Let us suppose as I have been taught that you are not a body; you are a soul. You start off with that belief, experiment with it and eventually you experience that you are a soul and not a body.

Spirituality teaches us to challenge our belief systems. In religion we got confused because we left it at the level of belief, because we never experienced the truths. So, many people ask you if you believe in God, they never ask if you have experienced God. Science and spirituality are connected, both say the same things: ‘Don’t believe, experience.’

When you experience a transformation, you feel like sharing it with others. So, she started sharing what she was learning with individuals, gradually groups of 20 to 50. And then in 2007, “Awakening with Brahma Kumaris”, the TV show happened. Initially, she worked backstage at the production of Brahma Kumaris television presentations in Delhi, where senior teachers would record the teachings. Then in 2007, due to the unavailability of other teachers, she was asked to start answering the viewers' queries herself. This led to a television program launched in 2007, titled Awakening with Brahma Kumaris,

Thereafter she got the opportunity to share with bigger groups. But it is just a sharing of what she is learning.

Since 2007, she has been connecting with viewers through a daily Television talk- show ‘Awakening with Brahma Kumaris’ directed towards personal, emotional, mental, social and spiritual wellness. The show has completed 1200 episodes and airs in 5 continents. She also regularly engages with users on Facebook page and YouTube channel, which together have an audience of over 3 million.

103 | P a g e

She spoke on many episodes about living values, self-management, inner powers, harmony in relationships, law of karma, healing, self-empowerment, discipline, about BK organisation, Spirituality, and art of living. Many people around the world have benefited from Awakening episodes.

While narrating her journey and contribution, her YouTube channel has nearly 1k videos, 2.46M Subscribers and millions of views.

Her core philosophy is:

“We are personally responsible for what we think and how we feel. Nothing and no one can be held accountable for our thoughts, words, and actions. We choose them in every scene of life, and our choice creates our destiny. Each of it is the conscient energy which is the master of this body. Original quality of each one is peace, love, happiness, purity, wisdom, and bliss. Rajyoga Meditation is the science of evoking these original qualities and using them in our every interaction. We shift from wanting peace, love and happiness, to being it and radiating it to all.”

Till today she has interacted with individuals from different faiths and cultural backgrounds, in over 3,500 programmes across 40 countries. She also had opportunities to speak at corporate houses like , Microsoft, Cisco, Intel, Amazon, Maruti Suzuki India, Indian Oil Corporation, Godrej Industries Ltd., Sony Entertainment Television, Airtel Mobile Services, Reliance Jio, Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd., GE Energy, Asian Paints, Times Of India, among others.

Through conferences, seminars, and retreats, she has spoken to professionals across media, businesses, administration, IT, engineering, sports, judiciary, and politics. She has addressed the , Airport Authority of India, Jet Airways, Singapore Airlines, Rotary International and Lions Clubs

104 | P a g e

International. She has also had the opportunity to address students at schools, colleges, management institutes and leadership institutes across India.

Through her motivational speech or spiritual talks, a lot of them have recovered from mild to acute depression, panic attacks, anxiety, and overthinking. And in many other cases, improved emotional health has helped people overcome lifestyle diseases and ailments like blood pressure, diabetes, weak immune system, sleep disorders, and so on. Even individuals battling chronic or terminal illnesses have been able to accept and cope better.

BK Shivani highlights that our every thought and every word carries energy. What we say after "I AM ___" shapes our destiny. Words like “I am stressed” or “I am worried” create that reality. When we say, “I am love”, we experience and radiate our quality of love.

Her TV series of conversations with Suresh Oberoi was adapted into a 2015 book Happiness Unlimited: Awakening with Brahma Kumaris.

She has also been conferred with the prestigious Nari Shakti Award by the in 2019 for her excellence in empowering Spiritual Consciousness. She was honoured with the Women of the Decade Achievers Award by ASSOCHAM Ladies League in 2014. In 2017, she was appointed as a Goodwill Ambassador by the World Psychiatric Association too.

Mrs. Hiral Milan Shah Durga Shakha | Reading

105 | P a g e

ॐ Niruben Mepa

Niruben Mepa is an untold story of such a woman who lives by values, and has always stretched herself for Sewa, she constantly radiates care, share, concern and joy by all means to make any woman, who comes her way to make them feel special. She is not a celebrity nor has bright academic or fancy career achievements but for Utthan (progression) and Sewa of Hindu Dharma, a big and sensible heart is a God’s gift to her.

The one who knows Niruben must agree that she is someone who radiates unconditional love, supportive hand and is always ready to cook food with love and joy especially for any event or festivals. She encourages others to join hands as she knows the art of connecting with people and empowering everyone to be united. Durga Samiti’s Sampark Pramukh Niruben Mepa is such an inspiration for us in our Vibhag. Despite being the mother of 2 teenage kids and working as a sales advisor with M&S, she has been contributing as a Sevika or as a wife of Karyakarta for 21 years.

I chose to write about her because she is a friend and philosopher for many women in the town, irrespective of their association with Samiti. As I know her personally, I am aware of her support for women in her town especially if there are any Hindu women dealing with injustice, rejection, divorce, manipulation, abusive relations etc, Niruben showers motherly love to such vulnerable women and helps them with her wide network.

106 | P a g e

This article is to highlight or reflect many such women from Sangh parivar, be it a Samiti karyakarta, a Sangh karyakarta’s wife or a small karya kartini. They are the precious jewels of our society. Before I write down more about Niruben, I personally thank Hemangiben Bhide, Rashmiben Srivasta, Pariben Shah, Rakhiben Mistry, Bhairaviben, Sonaliben, Nehaben as a core team for Reading Samiti who has similar sewa bhav and are contributing their time and energy for utthan of hindu women.

Niruben was born on 10th June 1971 in Porbandar. She has studied Bachelor of Arts in psychology with sociology from Rajkot-Saurashtra university. Her father was an electronic engineer and mother was a housewife. Because of many responsibilities in a joint family, her mother could not work despite being a teacher.

Niruben comes from a joint family where there were nearly 26-30 people under one roof. Joint family has given her broad exposure to life and different learning experiences since early childhood. She says, because of joint family, she has learnt the art of accepting everyone as they are and looking into qualities in everyone and motivating everyone to be united.

After graduation, she worked as a teacher for foundation year kids for 3 years. She got married at the age of 24 and her relocation to the UK was a life changing experience for her. Those days when the internet was not there and ISD phones were very costly, she had to wait for days to exchange emotions through letters with parents and siblings back in India. Life in the UK and cultural difference was

107 | P a g e

ॐ particularly challenging for her initially. She did not know English, so it was challenging to go outside independently. However, her husband supported her in learning English and child-minding courses here in the UK.

According to her, we women are Annapurna. She learnt this attribute from her mother who used to cook food for nearby hospital’s patients and relatives as a little act of kindness for many years and that inspired her a lot to cook food for many people to spread love, care, concern and joy.

In her opinion, with the Digital revolution, our lifestyle and mindset is gradually changing so much that we all are paying the price somewhere with our emotional wellbeing. In this 21st century, we talk a lot about equality and compromise. Our precious feminine qualities like nurturance, sensitivity, sweetness, supportiveness, gentleness, warmth, cooperativeness, modesty, humility, empathy, affection, tenderness, being emotional, kind, helpful, devoted, and understanding etc are getting suppressed and as a result we sometimes feel the unknown stress.

Few years back our emotional needs were taken care of by being in joint families with help from each other. These days the majority of the women have joined the workforce and with nuclear families we hardly get time to pay attention to others without any purpose. Observing many challenges even in present days for women, she set core philosophy for herself i.e. ‘Jansewa is Prabhu Seva’ which means ‘to see divine in everyone’, respect for everyone regardless of someone's position. Her education in psychology is helping her to understand unspoken

108 | P a g e

ॐ pain through body language and she counsels the person just like a family member.

When they relocated to Reading, they met Rajubhai Mistry and Jyotiben Mistry, Rajubhai was a karyakarta and he inspired Rameshbhai,Niruben’s husband, to join HSS. With 2 young kids, it was challenging as Niruben was working too. However, she felt blessed that Rameshbhai is contributing for Sewa and Utthan of Hindu community. She feels it is her duty to give unconditional support to her husband. According to her, marriage is teamwork. If one person is leading or contributing for good, another person has to give full support.

Niruben says not only she but Hemangiben Bhide, Rakhiben, Pariben, Rashmiben are also incredibly supportive as karyakarta’s wife/supportive and as sevikas. She admires Bhairviben, Sonaliben, Nehaben for all their selfless service and responsibilities as a karyakarta. According to her we sevikas make good teams and when we are united and empowers each other then we feel like a family together.

It is very uncommon these days for someone to not use social media. She uses only WhatsApp for phone calls and meaningful messages. When asked why she is not using facebook, Instagram etc, she said that she has a Facebook account but prefers to contact people in person or one-to-one communication is more important for her. According to her while communicating, your expression, personal touch in talking, and being in the same space in person is important for our emotional wellbeing. Virtual world can give information but not the feeling of

109 | P a g e

ॐ being truly connected. One to one communication helps to maintain a feeling of human bonding and connection that is missing when we communicate through any social media.

In lockdown, when we all talk about our disturbed routine, she feels it is very important to look after the emotional wellbeing of elderly people in the family too. She regularly holds a Spiritual Talk session every night before sleep as a family time on zoom. She says it makes all elderly members in a family feel special and it is a unique way to be connected and technology is a blessing if we use it wisely. She personally calls all sevikas and motivates them to be in contact with each other and is always ready to help as a caring family member.

Her message for today’s women is ‘Spread unconditional love Joy and be connected’.

Mrs. Hiral Milan Shah Durga Samiti | Reading

110 | P a g e

ॐ Rani Rudramadevi

The Medieval Queen

When I was asked to contribute to the Samiti e-book, I instantly thought of Rani Rudramadevi, as she was a medieval ruler of my native place in , India. Although I am not much aware of her history, I decided this is the only opportunity to study and share knowledge about such a legendary personality to my fellow readers.

Rudrama Devi’s succession to throne in 1259 AD became a historical event, because it was an era when the history barely and rarely witnessed females attending to and carrying the throne successfully. Her predecessors were rulers, who brought in most of the Telugu speaking region under one rule with Orugallu (present , 150km from city of Hyderabad) as its capital from 1083 CE to 1323 CE ,which is known to be a golden era of Telugu history until conquest by the Delhi Sultanate.

111 | P a g e

Early and Family life

Ganapatideva decided Rudramadevi as his successor as her parents never gave birth to sons. From a very young age she was trained by expert teachers in politics, administration, warfare, literature, music, and dance. From the age of 15, she worked along with her beloved father and learned the skills of becoming a strong ruler. Since she started taking responsibilities, she used to travel around the country to find out the issues her citizens were facing. Rudramadevi’s attire was like male and she conducted herself as a strong ruler. In some inscriptions, her name is also mentioned as Rudradeva Maharaja.

When Ganapatideva took the decision of Rudrama as his successor, this decision was opposed tremendously by samanthas, aristocrats and his own family members. This attitude was put to rest when she proved herself as the greatest ruler of the era.

Rudrama was married to prince Virabhadra, son of neighbouring king Indusekhara. She gave birth to two daughters. Unfortunately, her husband died at a very young age in 1266 and soon the following year her father Ganapatideva died. In such sorrowful times as well, she neither lost her courage nor neglected her duties as a ruler.

Policy and Rule of Governance

There was no clear mention of the exact time of her reign, though she ascended the throne in 1259 CE her father Ganapatideva still held the throne for the next few years and ruled together. Recent archaeological findings revealed that her period of reign could be 1262 CE – 1289 CE. Her awards were ‘Rayagaja Kesari’ and ‘Gatodhruti’.

112 | P a g e

Once she witnessed a pregnant woman die while giving birth, thereafter she implemented a rule of hospital in every village.

Unlike her predecessors, she recruited great warriors from non-aristocratic backgrounds. In return for their support she granted them authority over collecting land tax. There is evidence that she followed decentralised administration with limited control from central, all ‘Mandals’ and villages were constituents of the kingdom.

During her reign Rudramadevi introduced the ‘Nayankara- system’ of army administration, which was a well-planned army net of Nayakas and Samanthas.

She continued her father’s-initiated irrigation project called ‘Chain of lakes and tanks’ with great success, which is to support agricultural and general needs of the public. During the medieval era, this system was unique to the whole world and very successful. Some of those systems are still in working order. Recently in many areas of Telangana state government reinstated those systems.

Religion, Literature and Art/Architecture

Following her father's footsteps Rudramadevi also encouraged Hindu religious institutions, by contributing to Vishweshwara Sivacharya’s mission of establishing college and Shiva Math. Several of these Vidhya Mandapas existed, where the Vedas were also taught along with other prescribed courses.

Tikkana’s literary work of translation from Sanskrit to Telugu; ‘Andhra Mahabharatam’ and ‘Narvachanothara Ramayana’ were written during these times. Perini Shiva thandavam is a form of classical dance created and performed at temples and for soldiers to energise them before going to battle. Sculptures and inscription on temples walls are to a very high standard.

113 | P a g e

Kakatiya architecture was well known at times. She encouraged temples and arches all over her kingdom, so every village would have a temple. Shiva- Thatvam was greatly followed. The Swayambhu- Amaravati temple, Thousand Pillar and Ramappa Temples just to name a few, which were just not only religious places there were places of performing arts, education and places from which administrations performed.

Final Days

For a long time, there was no clear explanation of how and when Rudrama died. In recent archaeological findings it’s revealed through inscriptions that she might have been killed while facing rebellion from neighbouring king Ambadeva at the age of 80 around Nov/1289 CE, during this period her grandson Prataparudrudu was ruling the kingdom.

Mrs. Prasanna Taduri Durga Samiti | Reading

114 | P a g e

ॐ Brave Indian Women

I have always been inspired by women from our history. Going through Indian history, I learnt about many women and I would like to share information about some of them.

Rani Laxmi Bai - Also known as 'Jhansi ki Rani was an embodiment of courage at the time of British reign in India. She was one of the front ranking leaders of the and a symbol of resistance to British Rule

Rani Avanti Bai - Rani Avantibai Lodhi, wife of King Vikramaditya and queen of Ramgarh State in central India, is remembered for her valiant fight against British during 1857 war of Independence, when she made a supreme sacrifice of her life for the freedom of motherland.

Rani Velu Nachiyar - She was a queen of Shivganga estate in south India. She is regarded as the first queen who fought against the British colonial power in India, even before Rani Laxmibai. She is also credited as the first person to apply the human bomb.

Kittur Chennamma -She was the Rani of Kittur, a former princely state in Karnataka. She led an armed rebellion against the British East India Company in

115 | P a g e

1824. She had become a folk hero in Karnataka and symbol of the independence movement in India.

Abbakka Chowta - She was first tuluva queen of Ullal who fought the Portuguese in the latter half of the 16th century and repulsed each of their attacks for over four decades .The "Veera Rani Abbakka Utsava" is an annual celebration held in her memory.

Uda Devi - Also known as Jagrani formed a women's army with herself as the commander and fought against the British in the Indian Rebellion of 1857. She is said to have climbed over a pipal tree and shot dead 36 British soldiers.

Azizun Bai - During the 1857 freedom struggle against British rule, Azizun's home became a meeting point of sepoys. She formed her own group of women to support the revolt, and distributed arms and ammunition. She dressed in a male attire and fought using pistols as she rode her horse.

Jhalkaribai- was a women soldier who played an important role in the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and a prominent advisor to the queen, Rani LaxmiBai. At the height of the battle of the fort of Jhansi. She disguised herself as the Queen and fought on her behalf.

Onake Obavva - She is celebrated as one of the fiercest female warriors, who fought the forces of Hyder Ali single handedly with a pestle (onake). The lone

116 | P a g e

ॐ woman killed all the enemies that tried entering the Chitradurga fort through a tiny hole.

Mata Bhag Kaur - She was a Sikh woman who led 40 Sikh soldiers against the Mughals in 1705. She killed several enemy soldiers on the battlefield and is considered to be a saint warrior by the Sikh Nation for over 300 years. She was the sole survivor of the battle of Khidrana ie, Battle of Muktsar.

Keladi Chennamma - She was the queen of Keladi Kingdom in Karnataka. During her reign of 25 years, she never lost a war against the Mughal Army led by Aurangzed. She also gave shelter to Rajaram , son of Shavaji who fleeing from fleeing from .

Bibi Dalair Kaur - She was a 17 th century Sikh woman who was given the responsibility by Guru Gobind Singh Ji to guard Anandpur Sahib. She rallied 100 female Sikhs against Mughal army led by Wazir Khan. She was killed and is considered to be a martyr among Sikhs.

Rajamata Jijabai - She was the mother of Maharaj, founder of the Empire. She inspired Shivaji by telling stories from Ramayana, and Balaraja. Jijabai was not only a mentor to Shivaji, but also ruled the kingdom in his absence.

117 | P a g e

Rani Padmini - She is also known as Padmavati was the queen of Chittor, Renowned across India for her bewitching beauty. To protect her self- respect and honour from Mughals, Padmini performed in 1303, the year Alauddin Khilji attacked Chittor.

Ahilyabai Holkar - She was the Holkar Queen of the Maratha Kingdom who personally led armies into battle and protected her kingdom from plundering invaders. She also built hundreds of temples and Dharmashalas throughout India.

Akkadevi - She was a princess of the of Karnataka. She was well known for being an able administrator and capable general. She was also called Gunadabedangi , meaning "beauty of virtues" . An inscription dated 1022 calls her courageous as Bhairavi in war.

Nayakuralu Nagamma - She was a famous state- person and a minister of King Nalagama, the ruler of Palnadu in Guntur District. She is considered as the world's first woman minister. She was one of the key characters, in the epic war- Palnati Yudham(1182).

Rani Durgavati - She was a ruling Queen of Gondwana from 1550 until 1564. She defended her kingdom with all her might from Mughal invaders. Rani Maintained that it was better to die respectfully than to live a disgraceful life. Her martyrdom day (24 June 1564) is commemorated as Balidan Diwas.

118 | P a g e

Rani - She was the regent of the of India from 1700 until 1708. She was the daughter- in-law of the empire's founder, Chhatrapati Shivaji. Under her Leadership, the Marathas fought against Mughal occupation and also was able to recapture lost territories

Belawadi Mallamma - She was the first woman to form a woman's army against the Marathas. After Shivaji troops arrested her on the battlefield, Shivaji praised her and said " I made a mistake Ma! Kindly forgive me .... I don't want your kingdom ", then released her.

Rani Rudrama Devi - She was a warrior Queen of the kakatiya dynasty. While adept at warfare, Rudrama was also known to have been an effective administrator. Marco Polo describes her as a lady of discretion who rules with justice and equality.

Rani Karnavati - She was a queen and temporary ruler of . She was also the grandmother of the great King, . When Bahadur Shah ransacked Chittorgarh, Karnavati and other noble ladies of the immolated themselves in jauhar on March 8, 1535 AD.

Naiki Devi - She was the Gujarati Queen from , who is remembered as the woman who defeated and sent back the invading armies of Muhammad Ghori in 1178 AD .The defeat left such a terrible dent on Ghori's psyche that he never again dared to march towards Gujarat.

119 | P a g e

Rani Kurma Devi - The daughter of Naiki Devi and wife of Raja Samar Sing Rawal of Chittorgarh, Rani Kurma Devi defeated Qutabadin Aibak in a battle at old Amber Fort. She managed to bury her sword deep into Aibak's flesh, wounding him so badly that he tumbled from his saddle and Aibak's army ran away from fear.

Sati Sadhani - She was the last queen of the Sutiya Dynasty. Sadhani Played a prominent role in the fight against the Ahoms. Every year in 21 April is celebrated as “Sati Sadhani Divas " to honour the sacrifices made by the sutiya queen.

Chetna Suresh Durga Shakha | West Drayton

120 | P a g e

Rukmini Devi Arundale was an Indian theosophist, dancer and choreographer of the form of . She was an activist for and welfare and was the first woman in Indian history to be nominated a member of the . The most important revivalist of Bharatanatyam from its original 'sadhir' style prevalent amongst the temple dancers, the , she also worked for the reestablishment of traditional Indian arts and crafts.

She modified the cause of Bharata Natyam which was considered a vulgar art. She 'sanitised' and removed the inherent eroticism of Sadhir to make it palatable to Victorian British morality and Indian upper caste elites.

Rukmini Devi features in India Today's list of '100 People Who Shaped India'. She was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1956, and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship in 1967.

121 | P a g e

Childhood and Marriage:

Rukmanidevi was born on 29 February 1904 in Madurai. Her father, Neelakanta Shastri, was an engineer, a scholar, and was a music enthusiast. At Adyar, Chennai Rukmini was exposed to not just theosophical thought, but also to new ideas on culture, theatre, music and dance. Her meeting with the prominent British theosophist Dr —a close associate of and later the principal of the Central Hindu College in Varanasi—led to her building a lasting bond with him. They married in 1920.

In 1928, the famous Russian ballerina visited Bombay and the Arundale couple went to her performance, and later happened to travel on the same ship as her, to Australia. During this journey their friendship grew, and soon Rukmini Devi started learning dance from one of Anna's leading solo dancers, Cleo Nordi. It was later, Rukmini Devi turned her attention to discovering traditional Indian dance forms which had fallen to disrepute and dedicated the rest of her life to their revival.

122 | P a g e

In 1933, at the Annual Conference of Madras Music Academy, she saw for the first time, a performance of the dance form called Sadhir. Later she learnt the dance from 'Mylapore Gowri Amma', and finally 'E Krishna Iyer' from 'Pandanallur Meenakshi Sundaram Pillai'. In 1935, Rukmini Devi gave her first public performance at the Diamond Jubilee Convention of the .

Office of Kalakshetra Academy at Besant Nagar

In January 1936, she along with her husband, established Kalakshetra, an academy of dance and music, built around the ancient Indian Gurukul system, at Adyar, near Chennai. Today the academy is a deemed university under the and is situated in its new 100-acre (0.40 km2) campus in Tiruvanmiyur, Chennai.

Originally known as sadhir, the Indian classical dance form of Bharatanatyam owes its current name, to E Krishna Iyer and Rukmini Devi Arundale, who has been instrumental in modifying mainly the Pandanallur style of Bharatanatyam and bringing it to the global attention,removing the extraneous sringaar and erotic elements from the dance. Soon she changed the very face of the dance, by introducing musical instruments, like violin, set and lighting design elements, and innovative costumes, and jewellery inspired by the

123 | P a g e

ॐ temple sculptures. Rukmini Devi approached noted scholars for inspiration and classical musicians and artists, for collaboration, the result was the creation of some pioneering dance dramas-based on Indian epics like 's Ramayana and Jayadeva's Gita Govinda. Starting with famous dance dramas like, 'Sita Swayamvaram', 'Sri Vanagamanam', 'Paduka Pattabhishekam' and 'Sabari Moksham', followed by 'Kutrala Kuruvanji', 'Ramayana', 'Kumara Sambhavam', 'Gita Govindam' and 'Usha Parinayam'.

It is said that Rukmini Devi, in 1977, was offered to get nominated as a Presidential candidate by .

Deepali Nayan Deshpande Maya Shakha | Amersham

124 | P a g e

ॐ Kalpana Chawla

Figure 5

Kalpana – “Imagination”

• Today, I have got an opportunity to write about a role model for countless Indian women, Kalpana Chawla. • Born in Karnal (Haryana, India) on March 17, 1962, Kalpana Chawla was fascinated by aeroplanes and flying. • With the dreams of flying high, she did her Bachelor of Engineering degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Engineering College, India, and

Figure 6

125 | P a g e

Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington, United States in 1984.

Figure 7 Career

• Just like the meaning of her name, she had great imagination and curiosity about stars and planes. In the 10th standard grade, she figured what she wanted to do. • “I was interested in aerospace and flying, and the U.S. is really the best place in the world for flying.” – Kalpana Chawla. With this ambition, she began working at NASA Ames Research Center. And did her first space mission began on November 19, 1997, as part of the six-astronaut crew that flew the Space Shuttle Columbia

Death – She Can Never Die Because We Have Not Forgotten Her

On February 1, 2003 the Space Shuttle Columbia, collapsed over the Texas region when it re-entered the Earth's atmosphere. This unfortunate event ended the life of Kalpana Chawla along with the other six crew members. But she will always live in our remembrance. With this belief, I hope every woman will fulfil their dreams and live forever.

126 | P a g e

Achievements & Awards

• Despite living in America, Kalpana Chawla was considered the pride of

India. And, there are many science institutions named after her. • During her lifetime, she was awarded with the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, NASA Space Flight Medal and the • NASA Distinguished Service Medal. • The , announced that the meteorological series of satellites, MetSat, was to be renamed "Kalpana“ • NASA has dedicated a supercomputer to Chawla.

Figure 8 Chase Your Kalpana & Be Another Kalpana Chawla

Words may not be enough to express Kalpana Chawla, because it is about the feeling and inspiration which she has left in every woman.

“The journey matters as much as the goal.” – Kalpana Chawla

Mamata Shukla Sita Shakha | Slough

127 | P a g e

ॐ Mithali Raj

The Lady Sachin (Tendulkar)

Mithali Dorai Raj, called as Mithu by her loved ones, is a 37year old Indian cricketer and the captain of the Indian women's national cricket team. Mithali is the highest run-scorer in women's international cricket and the only female cricketer to surpass the 6,000 run mark in Women's One Day International matches. She is also the only female cricketer to complete 20 years in international cricket.

Figure 9

I was really inspired by her achievements during the 2017 cricket world cup when she made the headlines but unfortunately her efforts could not get her the

128 | P a g e

ॐ cup and the team lost in the finals against England. Eager to find out more I started reading about her and was amazed to know how a small girl transformed into one of the most eminent sports personalities.

Mithali was a sleepy girl who went on to inspire and wake up a whole generation. She was born in Jodhpur, to a Tamil family. She later moved to Hyderabad, Telangana where she trained to be a cricketer. As an eight-year-old, Mithali loved to sleep. To prevent such lazy habits from setting in, her father, Dorai Raj, a retired Air Force sergeant, took her along to her brother's cricket coaching sessions early in the morning at St John's Academy in Secunderabad. Her potential was recognised by a coach there and she started playing at the age of 10. She underwent rigorous coaching and even had to give up Bharatnatyam which was her personal passion. She practiced for around 6 hours daily at that tender age. Mithali's parents also made sacrifices for their daughter's career - Her father sacrificed a promotion because it would have meant relocating to another city and her mother quit her career as a manager at an optical products chain just to focus on her.

All the efforts paid off when at the age of 14 in 1997, she was named as one of the probables for the world cup. At the age of 16, she made her One Day International debut in 1999 against Ireland at Milton Keynes and scored unbeaten 114 runs, making her the youngest centurion in women's ODIs. Since then there has been no turning back for Mithali. She broke many records and won many awards.

129 | P a g e

Raj is the highest run-scorer in women's international cricket. She is the first player to score seven consecutive 50s in ODIs. She holds the record for most half-centuries in WODIs. She also holds the record for playing the maximum number of ODIs in women's cricket. She has played 206 ODIs till now. Mithali is the only player (male or female) to have captained India in more than one ICC ODI World Cup. She was also a batting consultant for Indian women's national cricket team, and had played as a player-coach.

Mithali has received many awards. She was awarded the Arjuna Award in 2003, and the Padma Shri in 2015 by the Government of India. She has also received the Wisden Leading Woman Cricketer in the World award in 2017.

Even though she is often mentioned as ‘The Lady Sachin’, she wants to make an identity of her own. She feels that it is a good time for young cricket aspirants to come into the field but advises them not to aspire to be a success overnight but to climb the ladder step by step.

Priya Sangeeth Durga Samiti | Basingstoke

130 | P a g e

ॐ Ramabai Ranade

Almost 98 years after her death, the organisation ‘Sewa Sadan’ immediately reminds us of Ramabai Ranade. In the 19th century, there were many great women like Savitribai Phule, Bhagini Nivedita, Madam , Lakshmibai Tilak in India. A middle class born Ramabai was equally associated with these inspiring women. One of her inspiring sayings is “It is not strange my countrymen, my voice is small, for you have never given a woman the chance to make her voice strong”. Ramabai Ranade was an Indian welfare worker, fiercest woman and one amongst the primary women’s rights activists within the nineteenth century.

Ramabai (Yamumna) was born on 25th January 1862 in a middle class Kurlekar family in a small village Devrashtre of Sangli District, Maharashtra. She was married at the age eleven to Justice , lawyer and social reformer. Mahadev Ranande wanted to marry a widow but was forced by his family to accept Ramabai. Ramabai was illiterate when she was married. On the contrary, her husband was a graduate from Mumbai University with first class Honours. He devoted his time to teaching Ramabai in face of opposition from the ladies within his household. Justice Ranade gave regular lessons to young Ramabai in writing and reading Marathi, History, Geography, mathematics, English and Bengali. He used to make her read all newspapers and discuss current affairs with him.

131 | P a g e

Together with his strong support and sharing his visionary path, Ramabai spent all her life helping girls to become self-directed and economically freelance. Ramabai gave her first speech at Nasik high school, where her husband wrote her first speech. Over the time, she mastered the art of public speaking, in Marathi and also in English. Her speeches were easy to understand and heart touching.

From 1893 to 1901 Ramabai was at the height of her quality in her social activities. She established the Hindu girl’s Social and Literary Club in Mumbai and began a variety of classes to train ladies in languages, general knowledge, craft, and sewing. She started working for Prarthana Samaj in Mumbai.

She established a branch of Arya Mahila Samaj within the town. At the age of 38, upon the death of Justice Ranade in 1901, Ramabai left Mumbai and came to Pune and stayed at their ancestral house close to Phule Market. For one year, she led an isolated life. Finally, she came out of her self-imposed isolation to organize the primary Bharat Mahila Parishad in Mumbai.

She adopted a child after her husband’s death in 1902 proving her to be different from the norm. She was president of the Bombay Seva Sadan from 1908 till her death and founded the Pune branch of Seva Sadan (which was for the rehabilitation of distressed ladies). Seva Sadan included the establishment of a hostel and arranging for nurses’ training at the David Sassoon Hospital from 1911.

132 | P a g e

In 1912 she served on the Central Famine Relief Committee. She willingly became a Visitor of the Central Prison and the Lunatic Asylum at Yeravada. She regularly visited the prison, prayed with women-prisoners and tried to regenerate their souls. She visited the Lunatic Asylum and attended a meeting of its managing committee. She went to see boys in the Reformatory School, spoke to them and distributed sweets on festive occasions. Her most outstanding contributions were fighting for the right of compulsory and free primary education for girls; and organizing the women’s suffrage movement in Bombay Presidency in 1921-22.

She wrote her autobiography in 1910 in Marathi, ‘Amchya Ayushyatil Kanhi Athawani’ (Few memories of my life), which gives a frank picture of her life in a traditional household with a progressive husband. Ramabai lived twenty-four years after her husband’s death – a life filled with activity for social awareness and established social institutions like Seva Sadan.

Ramabai Ranade’s birth centenary was celebrated in 1962 and a stamp was released on the occasion by the Government of India.

. Anonymous

133 | P a g e

ॐ Rajmata

The legendary Rajmata Ahilyabai Holkar was a very inspirational and revolutionary woman of India. She was the Queen of Indore region.

She was a very noble, wise woman, perfect ruler, great warrior, courageous, very good at administration, organisation, and planning. She had a very confident and astute personality. She was a strong devotee of Bhagwan Shiva. When she started ruling her kingdom in the Indore region, she said, “This Kingdom is of Shiva and I’m ruling under the guidance of Shiva. I will do everything for the betterment of people and the city, as my every act is the responsibility of mine only as I am answerable to God.” She wanted her city and its people to prosper.

134 | P a g e

After taking control of the Kingdom, to give strong answer to the Mughals, she fought against them in the battle field, not only she had a very good insight but also, she believed that it’s necessary to keep growing and spreading our Hindu dharma, Hindu culture in the hearts of the people, so she reconstructed many Hindu temples which were demolished by Mughals. She also built many pilgrimage temples across India.

What a great thought indeed, once there is faith in God, Hindu dharma and Hindu culture, then no one in this world can change the religious belief of people. She was one of the most prominent personalities for upholding and spreading Hindu dharma across India and continued to do sewa by building many ghats, wells, kunds, dharamshalas (free lodging) for travellers, gave donations to many temples, appointed many priests, gave donations for religious functions. She also donated food and clothes to the poor people. But most important, she did all these charity work by spending her own money. She was very well known for giving justice to the people. She did not like when someone would praise her and did not like to show her wealth too, which were very rare qualities.

135 | P a g e

She was a very simple woman. She believed in doing good deeds and encouraged others in doing so constructively. The Bhils who were nomadic in her kingdom, she transformed them into hardworking farmers. After she took control of the kingdom, she noticed much of the land was bare and unutilized, so she invited many farmers and weavers. In her city there were craftsman, sculptures, musicians, poets, Sanskrit pundits, farmers. She gave them honour with handsome salary and valued their talents. She developed textile industry in her own town and experimented with many fabrics, the outcome was beautiful Maheshwari Sarees which are still famous in today’s world. She employed forest tribes to be the protectors of travelling merchants, a job for which they were paid handsomely provided it was performed well.

So, by giving employment, the theft and robbery got reduced drastically. She had a perfect judgement of the people i.e. whom to appoint for which job and where, depending upon the qualities that they possess. She knew Guerrilla warfare tactics (Ganimikawa) which she had learnt from her father in law. Whatever the taxes she got from the town, she never spent it for herself but used it for doing Sewa of the society, her city and other cities too.

She helped the women upliftment cause. She changed few traditions. Earlier all wealth of the husband, after his death was to be deposited in the account of Kingdom, but Ahilyabai Holkar gave the permission to hand it over to the widow who was heir apparent. And she also allowed that this widow could adopt the child.

136 | P a g e

Unbelievable that such type of rare, divine, and magnificent personality took birth on the earth, I could not believe on my eyes and ears but it’s really true. Many called her with respect as Devi (Goddess)/ Punyashlok/ Rajmata/ Philosopher Queen Ahilyabai Holkar.

I am going to take you back in time with me and enjoy the journey to know how the little girl became Rajmata Ahilyabai Holkar.

It is the 17th Century Era:

In the small village named Chaundi (in Jamkhed, , Maharashtra) Sushila Bai Shinde give birth to a sweet baby girl on 31st May 1725 whose father was head of the village named Mankoji Shinde. They named their small girl Ahilya. In that era, girls were not allowed to go to school. It was considered that they have to do the chores at home and look after the family. It was a typical male dominated society.

But the thinking of Mankoji Shinde was different, he taught Ahilya how to read and write. She was a very intelligent and dharmic (religious) from the childhood.

Once when she was singing in the Shiva temple, Malharrao Holkar - worrier, commander (King) of Malwa (in Indore) who was working under the control of , saw her while he heads towards Pune. They quickly noticed the abilities of Ahilya, and he decided to ask her to marry his son Khanderao.

137 | P a g e

In 1733, at the age of about 8 years she married Khanderao Holkar. During those days, there was a system of child marriage. She gave birth to Son named Malerao in 1745 but he was mentally unwell. And after 3 years, she gave birth to girl named Muktabai.

By knowing abilities of Ahilya Bai Holkar, her father in law Malharrao Holkar taught her mathematics, how to handle accounts, administration, horse riding and archery- she was just brilliant at that. Many times, Malharrao Holkar took her with him to the battlefield.

As India was captured by Mughals, while fighting against Mughals in one of the battles of Kumbher, Khanderao Holkar died on 17th March 1754. During that time there was a system of sati, but her father in law did not allowed her doing so. He and her Mother in law Tara bai loved her so much and told her that after the death of their son, Ahilyabai would be like their son. At the age of 29 she became widow. Malharrao told her to handle all the administration of the Kingdom.

After the death of her Father-in law and son, it was really very difficult situation for Ahilya Devi. She lost her husband, father in law and her son but she did not let the grief of her loss. On 11th December 1768, she became the Queen of Malwa, Indore. She shifted from Malwa to Pilgrimage place name which is situated south of Indore on the banks of and decided to live there. In the beginning, she used to go for wars but after some time she appointed Tukdoji (adopted son of Malharrao Holkar) as the army chief and she started looking at the administration of the kingdom.

138 | P a g e

She started developing her city as well as outside region of Malwa, she built dozens of temples, stretching from the Himalayas to pilgrimage centres in South India. The Bharatiya Sanskriti Kosh lists as sites she embellished, Kashi, Gaya, Somnath, , , , Kanchi, Avanti, , Badrinarayan, Rameshwar and Jagannathpuri.

The doors of her palace were always open for the people, they could go to her Court (Durbars) and she listened to their problems and gave proper justice. She was highly respected in her life.

She did remarkable work in many fields; she was a multi-potentialities. Her work was really mind blowing, fascinating. She was a proficient ruler, able organiser, knowledgeable politician, had good insight and planning, efficient administrator. She developed her kingdom for the welfare of people without considering caste and religion, gave importance to agriculturalists, artists, poets, Industries, fought against Mughals - she was a Virangana (fighter), protected and spread the Hindu dharma, culture and festivals. She rejuvenated many old temples and constructed many Hindu temples too. In spite of having so many family problems, Ahilyadevi did selfless Seva and inspired so many people not only in India but also outside India.

She died at the age of 70 in year 1768. Many Great people considered her Saint Ahilyabai Holkar after her death.

139 | P a g e

Rajmata Ahilyabai Holkar - A Queen like no other.

Even after her death, Devi Ahilyabai Holkar is remembered forever and keeps inspiring people around the world because of her glorious work, good qualities she possesses. A commemorate stamp was issued in her honour on 25 August 1996 by the Republic of India.

As a tribute to the great ruler, a Statue is built in Indore. Indore domestic airport has been named Devi Ahilyabai Holkar Airport. Similarly, Indore University has been renamed as "Devi Ahilya Vishwavidyalaya”.

Poem on Rani Ahilyabai Holkar by Joanna Baillie in 1849

“For thirty years her reign of peace,

The land in blessing did increase.

And she was blessed by every tongue,

By stern and gentle, old, and young.

Yea, even the children at their mother’s feet

140 | P a g e

Are taught such homely rhyming to repeat

“In latter days from Brahma came,

To rule our land, a noble Dame,

Kind was her heart, and bright her fame,

And Ahilya was her honoured name.

She became the role model for women. One organisation named Rashtriya Sevika Samiti (Hindu women's organization) is working to uphold Indian culture and traditions; they considered honorary Rajmata Ahilyabai Holkar as one of their ideal role models. Rashtra Sevika Samiti focuses on Hindu women's role in the society as leaders and agents of positive social reform. Their work is going on all around the world.

“Sewa yah yagya kunda samidha Sam hum jale”

As I read somewhere that Rajmata used to light up Diyas in the temple which she had set up in her city, day and night, let’s keep that flame of Diya glowing and shining continuously by learning the qualities that Rajmata Ahilyabai Holkar possessed like keep doing good deeds, service to humanity, positive and pure thoughts about others, be strong physically and mentally, try to fight against bad things/ habits. Most important of above all, believe in God that has super powerful energy. Preserve our Hindu dharma by adapting Hindu culture, celebrate our festivals, chant Shlokas/Mantras at home. Keep doing Sewa of our society without any expectations. Let’s keep all these qualities alive (Amar) in our hearts forever and don’t forget to pass it in on to others.

141 | P a g e

Poem on Rajmata Ahilyabai Holkar

It is really unimaginable and unbelievable that such Legendary Rajmata Ahilyabai Holkar took birth on the earth, but it is very true

Help people for their welfare and for the betterment of cities too

Encouraged farming, artists, weavers and set up Industry too, really, she had astute view

Help many Women and became a role model by inspiring them too

Virangana, Intelligent, Divine, Good insight, able Administrator, and organiser too, such rare personalities are very few

Uphold and spread the Hindu culture revamped many Hindu temples and celebrating festivals too, Built Ghats, Kunds and many Hindu temples new

Queen like no other than Ahilyabai Holkar sets a perfect example for the Hindu renaissance (Utthan) and Sewa too, that each one of us knew

So, let us try to learn these qualities that Legendary Ahilya Devi possesses, they are difficult but not hard too, and do not forget to pass it on to next generation too, so our Hindu Dharma and Hindu Culture continue to grow.

Trupti Nishikant Harkare Durga Shakha | Reading.

142 | P a g e

ॐ Sudha Chandran

On January 28th, 1984, Sudha Chandran stood behind the curtain, staring at the crowd nervously and waiting for the crowd to settle down. It had been a while since she danced on the stage since she met an accident. But she did not know that it was going to change her life. The accident had not only left her dejected but also left her fans sceptical about her ability to return to the sacred dance floor. How can a single-legged person dance Bharatanatyam, one of the most intricate Indian dances? Well, find out reading this.

Sudha Chandran is an accomplished Classical Bharatanatyam dancer and a film actress. She was born on 27th September 1965 in Mumbai, but her family originates from Tamil Nadu. Her father, K.D. Chandran, worked at USIS and he is also a formal actor. As a young woman, she loved to dance. Everything was going fine in her life and she had almost everything she needed, but then, life took a sudden turn for her.

143 | P a g e

In May 1981, when she was about 16 years old, Sudha met with an accident in which her leg was very badly injured. Doctors said that her right leg was in serious condition and amputation was required before the infection started spreading. Sudha Chandran states that this was the toughest part of her life. Then, after about 6 months, she wore the Jaipur foot and she practiced dancing again. Sudha then performed on stage. She became a star for the cheering crowd from that day on.

Her life inspires people from all walks of life. , a Telugu producer approached her with a script titled, ‘Mayuri’ which was based on Sudha’s life. She agreed to play the lead actress and overnight she became a star after the release of the film in 1984.

Although she had an amputated leg, she never gave up on her passion for dance and acting. This is what made her a role model and a famous dancer/ actor. I chose this woman because not only she gave a true inspiration for others to dance, but she never gave up on her dreams. Because of her, today many people with a leg amputation see her as a role model and dance. Also, because of her, the Jaipur leg became very famous and many people now use it after realising, that this plastic leg can make a great change in one's life. She has played a main role in the society of helping the poor and needy dancers. Sudha thought, poverty should never be the reason for anyone to lose hope in dancing.

Kalyani Tirlangi Maya Shakha | Amersham

144 | P a g e

Ela Bhatt

Born: 1933 - Present, , India


• Ramon Magsaysay Award (1977) • Right Livelihood Award (1984) • Padma Shri (1985) • Padma Bhushan (1986) • Honorary Doctorate degree, Harvard University (June 2001) • Niwano Peace Prize (2010) • Global Fairness Initiative Award (2010) • Radcliffe Medal (2011) • for Peace, Disarmament and Development (2011) • Doctorate of Humane Letters, Georgetown University (2012) • Honorary doctorate from Université libre de Bruxelles (2012) • Honorary doctorates from Yale and University of Natal

145 | P a g e


• Bhatt, E. R. (2006). We are poor but so many: the story of self-employed women in India • Bhatt, E.R. (2015). Anubandh: Building Hundred Mile Communities


Elaben Bhatt is a person that has transgressed boundaries, whether they are cultural, national, or generational while demonstrating Sewadharm.

Having worked at grass-roots levels in India and delivering a significant impact on the society, she has achieved accolades all over the world for her contribution.

She has worked or is working in a variety of organisations, starting from TLA (Textile Labour Association) set up by Gandhiji and Ansuya Sarabhai, then SEWA (Self Employed Women’s Association) which she founded, SEWA Bank and more recently being on the board of the Reserve Bank of India.

She is also a member of The Elders, an organisation founded by , working internationally to drive change, specifically focusing on equality for women and girls.

Elaben comes from a family of lawyers and experienced the independence struggle while at school. She herself trained as a lawyer and focused on Hindu law while studying. Since then, she has worked relentlessly for over 60 years fighting for rights of the unorganised labour force. Starting with the women’s wing of TLA and then through her own organisation SEWA she strived for rights of self-employed women carrying out labour tasks from within their homes. She has helped provide women with access to opportunities they did not have

146 | P a g e

ॐ before, including a chance to start a business, send their children to school, open their own bank accounts, or simply be treated with respect by their husbands, families and authorities.


Elaben works on the principle of co-operative, self reliance, sustainability, collective leadership and empowerment. Inculcating these principles at grass- roots level, she has brought positive change in the lives of millions of women (SEWA currently has 1.3 million members who benefit from its initiatives). She has thus tried to reduce poverty by empowering women.

She has been indiscriminate of any bias in her activities, thus demonstrating the hindu sanatan dharma principle of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” (whole world is one family). The simplicity of her principles means that they can be applied in upliftment of society globally. No wonder considers Elaben Bhatt as one of her heroines!!

Neha Thakkar

Durga Shakha | Reading

147 | P a g e

Today’s Indian women are exploring all new avenues and reaching new heights in various fields. Some of these fields were not considered right for women. Being a teacher or working in banks was considered to be only career options for them, but now our women have been reaching space like Kalpana Chawla or finding place in politics like and Smruti Irani. One such woman whom I respect and who represents today's woman strength is Geeta Phogat.

Geeta showed us that nothing is impossible to achieve if you put love, pain, determination and dedication into it. Being muscular was equivalent to men but she proved us wrong. She is the real and live example of woman empowerment.

Geeta Phogat was born as Geeta kumari Phogat on 15 December 1988. She is a freestyle wrestler who won India's first ever gold medal in at the in 2010. She is also the first Indian female wrestler to have qualified for the Olympics. She is the eldest of the famed , this is none other than India’s very own Dangal Girl- Geeta Phogat!

Personal life and family

She comes from village in district, Haryana. She attended Maharshi Dayanand University in Rohtak, Haryana. Her father , a former wrestler himself and a recipient, is also her coach. Her Village lacked proper facilities, so her father enrolled her and her sister Babita at the Sports Authority of India centre in Sonipat

Her sister and her cousin are also Commonwealth Games gold medalists. Both won Gold medals in their respective categories in

148 | P a g e

2014 edition of Commonwealth Games. Another younger sister of Geeta Phogat, , too is an international level wrestler and has won a gold medal at the 2016 Commonwealth Wrestling Championship. She got married to wrestler Pawan Kumar on 20 November 2016. Her youngest sister, Sangita Phogat is also a wrestler.


2009 Commonwealth Wrestling Championship

Geeta Phogat won the Gold medal at the Commonwealth Wrestling Championship held in Jalandhar, Punjab between 19 and 21 December 2009.

2010 Commonwealth Games

She won India’s first ever gold medal in women’s wrestling at the Commonwealth Games held in , beating Emily Bensted from Australia in the gold medal match.

2012 Summer Olympics

Geeta Phogat won a gold medal in the Wrestling FILA Asian Olympic Qualification Tournament that concluded at Almaty, in April 2012. She has undergone rigorous training at the Netaji Subhas National Institute of Sports, (NSNIS), Patiala, under the guidance of chief coach O.P. Yadav and foreign expert Ryan Dobo.

149 | P a g e

Phogat was beaten in her opening fight by Canadian (1–3). She received a chance to win the bronze medal since the Canadian went to the finals. In the repechage round, she lost her first match to Lazareva from Ukraine.

2012 World Wrestling Championships

In the 2012 World Wrestling Championships held in Canada, Geeta Phogat won the bronze medal. In the first round, Phogat faced Maria Gurova of Russia, beating her 3:1. The second round brought a 5:0 loss for Phogat against of Japan. With the Japanese grappler making the finals, Phogat contested in the repechage round, first against Akziya Dautbayeva of Kazakhstan whom she beat 3:1 and then winning the bronze medal bout 3:0 against Natalya Sinishin of Ukraine.

2012 Asian Wrestling Championships

In the first round of the 2012 Asian Wrestling Championships, Geeta Phogat lost to her Japanese opponent Kanako Murata in a 5:0 scoreline. With the Japanese grappler entering the finals, Phogat was able to contest in the bronze medal round and won the bronze medal in the 55 kg category, beating Sumiya Erdenechimeg from 3:1.

2013 Commonwealth Wrestling Championships

At the tournament held in Johannesburg, , Phogat finished second and won the silver medal in the women's freestyle 59 kg category after losing the final bout to Oluwafunmilayo Adeniyi Aminat of .

150 | P a g e

2015 Asian Wrestling Championships

At the 2015 Asian Wrestling Championships in , Phogat finished third, winning the bronze medal in the freestyle 58 kg category along with Aiym Abdildina of Kazakhstan. At the 2015 World Championships in Las Vegas, she was drawn against nine-time world Champion, the Japanese , and lost to her in the opening round 0–10. With Icho qualifying for the finals, Phogat was given a chance to contest in the repechage for the bronze medal. She again lost 0–10 to her opponent, Elif Jale Yeşilırmak of Turkey.

She came from an orthodox and traditional Indian family, where it was considered to be a taboo to let women participate in sporting events in India. She shattered societal norms and followed her dreams which led her to represent India. By breaking and challenging these norms, the country has now accepted the fact that women are not inferior to their male counterparts and are more than capable of successfully chasing down their goals and making their dreams a reality.

Geeta Phogat has been one of the few sportswomen who have brought up the level of our country in international sports. She has inspired women of our country and also the world and showed that you can achieve your dreams if you put your heart in it. She pushed all her boundaries to make India proud.

Sheetal Uday Parab Basingstoke Shakha

Figure 10

151 | P a g e

A Real Disciple of Humanity

Kiran Bedi is a disciple of humanity. “She has the discipline, strength, determination, resolve, resilience and non-violence of Mohandas Gandhi.”

Kiran Bedi is a retired IPS officer born in Amritsar on 9th June 1949. She was the first female Indian Police Service Officer and started her service in 1975. She is a social activist, former player and politician and is the current Lieutenant Governor of Pondicherry.

After joining as a police officer, she realised that the country needed to tap into the talent and mental strength that women had in order to bring change to society so that injustice and corruption would become part of the past. Following her marriage, she continued to pursue her career and academic achievements.

Kiran Bedi is a champion of social causes. She set up the Nashamukti Kendras, centres in and around Delhi for treating drug and alcohol addiction. She speaks quietly but firmly on various social issues like education and domestic violence. She has always given priority to better training and faster empowerment of rural women. Under her supervision a variety of youth and skills development centres were established for women and unemployed members of various communities.

152 | P a g e

During her weekends, particularly in the morning, she goes out on her rounds on foot, on cycle, by car or by public transport to see for herself and help solve the various issues of the cities like cleanliness, rubbish and sanitation. Her cycle rallies have become very famous as she personally leads them to ride round the towns and cities. This enables her to meet different people and award them for doing good work.

She has arranged a meditation programme inside prisons which focuses on mindfulness as she believes that crime is a product of a distorted mind. She says that we are all human beings with the same capacity to create good or evil.

In 2011, Kiran Bedi joined with to form the India Against Corruption Group. In December 2013, she joined his hunger strike for a few hours and participated in twelve days of protest which led to the drafting of the Jan Lokpal Bill.

In conclusion, I would like to say that she is a true patriot with a natural sense of justice that continues to inspire women in society. All these qualities inspire me. I believe that these qualities are relevant to us as Samiti because we also work towards uniting as a society and making it better.

Aparna Gupta Durga Shakha | Reading

153 | P a g e

ॐ Raj Khaira

We all love Ladoos right? If you’re wondering, Ladoos are a popular Indian sweet and you’ll always find them being distributed out in celebration of whatever variety of Indian function you can think of – weddings, graduations, birthdays, even when celebrating the birth of a new baby.

Which brings me to Pink Ladoos - I know what you are thinking.

“Don’t you mean orange…Ladoos are orange aren’t they?”

I would normally agree with that statement.

Another statement I firmly agree with is that all lives are important and that no one should be treated unfairly or should face discrimination because of their gender.

This brings me back round to the birth of new babies and the connection with Ladoos. I find it hard to understand the explanations for why the birth of a boy is cause for celebration and the birth of a girl is a cause for commiseration – the topic would require its own book. But here we are, in the 21st century, all of us

154 | P a g e

ॐ aware of numerous stories of the sadness, fear and regret that families experience when a baby girl is born in their family.

And there are those that attempt to explain away the situation. Most will talk of yet another “awful backward tradition that we partake in” – but what happens once the explaining and talking stops?

Enter Raj Khaira. When Raj’s brother was born, Ladoos were showered upon the community with full pomp and ceremony. When Raj’s sister was born, those same showers transformed into the wet kind as her extended family cried. Khaira was experiencing the full force of growing up in a gender- biased community where men and women fulfilled their 'traditional' Asian gender roles, and this would have been seen as normal. Anyone who broke that mould was criticised.

Rather than try and explain away or moan about the situation, Raj, who is a trained lawyer and now a social activist, decided to enact change. She founded the Pink Ladoo project in 2015; a response to what she felt was the urgent need to raise the value of women in society. A cause which will continue to be relevant until people stop viewing girls as less important than their male counterparts.

So, what does the Pink Ladoos project have to do with equality?

As Raj herself explained in her interview with the Asian Voice Magazine in 2016 “The campaign is pro-gender equality and encourages families to celebrate the

155 | P a g e

ॐ birth of girls because we want to get the South Asian community to take ownership for the problems that South Asian women face (domestic abuse, dowry violence etc.) and to realise that the reason women face these issues is because they are seen as somehow having less value: dowry, father-to-son inheritance, the tradition of parents living with sons in old age have all worked together to create a preference for sons.”

The project encourages families to distribute pink Ladoos or any other sweet in celebration of their daughter’s births. The aim is this will start to eradicate archaic ways of thinking which typically show partiality towards boys.

Raj continuously runs cultural campaigns and shares stories on social media, showcasing inspiring women who have experienced gender discrimination and from mothers who have been stigmatised after giving birth to girls.

As I continue to read through the stories on their social media page, my heart aches for those girls and women who have never been treated as an equal. I worry for our girls in society and for those who are constantly being suppressed in raising their voice and trying to bring about change.

It is not all sad, however. With a published book under her belt called ‘Stories for South Asian Super Girls’, Raj goes from strength to strength in promoting women and their achievements. There are plenty of happy stories from families who have celebrated the birth of their daughters and have stood up against such sexist customs to encourage, inspire and empower others to do the same. Deviating 156 | P a g e

ॐ from what you have been exposed to can be daunting but by sharing these stories Raj hopes it can be made easier for everyone to challenge the status quo.

With hugely successful grass-roots campaigns in Australia, Canada and the UK, Raj has brought about significant awareness to take people on the path of eliminating the social issues, which stem from patriarchy and misogyny, by breaking down these customs and traditions that hold them together. The campaign has also been featured in the mainstream press; The Huffington Post, , Metro and indiatoday to name a few.

So why have I decided to write about Raj Khaira?

In a rich tradition, full of strong women, one in which the feminine is revered, respected and worshipped in the form of mother goddess, we must all strive to make a positive change to remain true to such ideals and be worthy of them. Raj is a great example of someone who has done this. She embodies the spirit of the famous saying “Be the change you want to see in the world” and we should all be encouraged to make a positive change like she has.

Every gender biased message has an impact on young South Asian girls and that is something I can relate to. So, by creating this campaign she has created a community of empowered women and families who can say no to gender discrimination, starting from birth.

157 | P a g e

I am also inspired by her desire to ensure that the lack of inter-sectional perspectives in the efforts to increase workplace diversity in the UK and abroad do not unfairly disadvantage South Asian women.

So, let us bin away these gender defining traditions and implement new ones that we can be proud of and one where women are respected and not belittled due to raising their voice. Let us learn about the ideals and principles that Raj has demonstrated, and the next time a daughter is born within your family, distribute pink Ladoos and celebrate as you would the birth of a son.

This is the time to celebrate daughters, this is the time for change, and this is the time for pink Ladoos.

Pooja Pabari Rukmini Shakha | Hounslow

158 | P a g e

ॐ A New Approach to Keep Folk Art Alive

When I was asked to write an article about a Hindu Woman who inspired Society through their work in art, I wanted someone who is not very properly known but someone who is not known broadly. During my research, I accidentally called an artist Kurva. Going by the name, I presumed it was a woman, but he was a man. When I told him about HSS and who I am after and what the purpose is, he gave me the name of Sri Harsha Kancharla.

Sri Harsha Kancharla is a Hyderabad-born artist from the state of Telangana- India. She is born to the humble couple Shri. Subash Chandra Bose and Smt. Suja Rani on 9th February 1979. She got married to Shri. Sreerama prasad and was blessed with two boys Tarak and Tanish. She completed her graduation in Business administration from Madurai Kamaraj University and Bachelor of fine arts from Architecture and Fine Arts University.

Sri Harsha is helping to save a dying art form. Although there are thirty-three types of tribes found in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, most prominent among them are Koya, Gonds, Kollam, Nayakpods, Konda Reddy, , Bhagatas, Savaras, Jatayus, Gadabas, Yerukalu,Yanadis ,Toti and Chenchus. This art is

159 | P a g e

ॐ another way of telling the interesting history of these tribes, which is also beneficial to others who want to know life from a different, more isolated perspective. She is helping to bring back pieces of history from not just the tribes, but also our own childhoods.

Sri Harsha has written a thesis on the dying folk arts of the various (mainly Koya) tribes in India. She got attracted to ancient tribal art during her graduate days, eventually coming across the Koya tribal art that is local to her region. This art form is dying and without any revival, will become extinct in a few years. She chose to go and visit a few places like Warangal, Khammam, Bhadrachalam where these tribes resided and documented them for her thesis. She also created many pieces of art herself, which often had connections or were inspired by the tribal art.

This is gandaberunda pakshi (pakshi means bird),a sacred bird of tribes which protects her eggs from snakes no matter what the situation is, Harsha have depicted as Nirbhaya mother who fought for justice to her daughter.....eyes are many on other girls like Nirbhaya waiting for justice

I admired this picture a lot where I thought wherever the girl goes there are so many evil eyes on her. Harsha depicted in a profound way that it does not matter how modern she is, a mother is always there to protect her kids.

160 | P a g e

In this Harsha is showing the COVID 19 situation where migrants are stuck in cities as if it has become padmavuham.

Harsha’s inspiration for the above was K0YA dal Gudda or Padiga (picto script), the centre is taken from Cheriyal scroll paintings of Telangana traditional folk art.

This is inspired by the Chriyal art form, a traditional form of art originating from Telangana.

These are just a few samples. There are many paintings, crafts which are connecting tribal art with modern life so the future generation can connect to our ancient lives.

Here are few excerpts from the brief interaction I had with Harsha:

1.Could you tell us something about your early growing up years, and their impact on your career choice?

161 | P a g e

Sri Harsha: As a child I was always drawn towards activities related to art and crafts, including painting, sketching, and papercraft. I used to start my day at school by expressing my artistic ideas on the blackboard, a habit that was encouraged by teachers and my fellow students. As a child, I believed that drawing was the best way of expressing my thoughts and feelings. I often used to give artistic shape to my endless thoughts on a piece of paper. I used to derive great pleasure by helping my friends to improve their artistic skills. As time passed, I tried my hands at creating beautiful handmade birthday cards as computer-generated crafts were not popular those days. I had never thought of making art as a profession as I always considered art as a medium of expression.

2.Whom do you idolize, and why?

Sri Harsha: KG Subramanian is my inspiration because he was not only influenced by Indian folk art and traditional art forms but also by western ideas. He believed that folk art and traditional art have mobility than other structured, sophisticated art forms. Tribal life, culture, and art were not something new to me. I had close interactions with the tribal community during my childhood days at my grandmother's place. Their way of life had a deep impact on my artistic side. Mr. Subramanian’s thought process is much closer to mine. He often urged contemporary art practitioners to understand local craft techniques and reinterpret in their way. His wise use of metaphors to express his idea of culture and art has inspired lots of people including me.

I believe that tribal art is the purest art form because they usually do what they feel and see, depicting nature and their surroundings. The artistic expressions of Mr.K G Subramanian had a great influence on my present interest in Koya art.

3. What is your most preferred medium of art?

162 | P a g e

Sri Harsha: As of now, I am still experimenting with different media and not restricting myself to any one medium.

4. What are your major sources of inspiration?

Sri Harsha: My major source of inspiration comes from the art of padiga or dal Gudda of Koya tribes. I am trying to depict the metaphor on them in a contemporary style. I am still working on this tribal art and trying to know more about their lifestyle through actual interactions and reading their folk literature.

5. How do ideas take birth for your creative work?

Sri Harsha: Usually my ideas of work are generated from contemporary issues happening around me.

6. How do you manage to keep the process of creativity constant?

Sri Harsha: The zeal to do, to prove and to crystalize my ideas into actions. I am trying to know more about tribal art and lifestyle and know more folk stories mostly which are moukik (oral) and create them in my own style using their metaphors and revive this dying art.

7.Was there a dull/low period that you went through? How did you cope with / come out of it?

Sri Harsha: Art is normally not considered a viable profession in India. Parents in India always wanted their kids to become engineers or doctors and normally do not encourage them to explore creative options such as art. Art certainly brings emotions out of you in your style. Joining an art school changed my whole perception of art. It helped me understand art in a new dimension and helped me to shape up as a totally new person.

163 | P a g e

8. What is your major personal philosophy behind your work? What do you intend to reflect in your art?

Sri Harsha: My philosophy behind my work is to revive the dying art of tribes which if not revived in a few years, will become extinct. Tribal art also serves as a medium through which traditions, beliefs, and lifestyles of the tribal communities could be communicated to the outside world.

9.How have you managed your work / life balance? Would you have done anything differently if you had to do it all over again?

Sri Harsha: Yes, being a woman later a wife eventually a mother will have challenges. One must balance both family and professional life. I believe if we can put little effort, we can achieve anything.

It surely would have been great if I could join an art school at a very early age. The explosion of thoughts at that age would have surely made a world of good to my career.

10. Is there gender inequality in the Indian art community?

Sri Harsha: Sometimes we must compromise on a few things as women. We must prioritize and balance both aspects of life. I feel being a woman has its own advantages in the field of art. Women are often blessed with a tsunami of emotions which when expressed could create artistic wonders.

11. What are your personal struggles with your vocation / creativity / criticism / acceptance?

Sri Harsha: My family has been very supportive and encouraged me in every milestone of my life. They always tried to make my life easier and fulfil my dreams

164 | P a g e

12. what are some of the experiences / artworks that you hold dear to your heart?

Sri Harsha: My research on Koya tribes is the best part of my career. It is always great when you are pursuing an aspect which is close to your heart.

That is an inspirational interview.

Though she got busy with family and kids, Sri Harsha has restarted her career at the age of 36 to live her dream profession. She joined a regular course Fine Arts in JNAFAU College and competed with the younger generation. She shows that you can do anything no matter the age. She is very creative and is inspiring in the way that you can help society in the smallest and oddest of ways… such as helping in bringing back an obscure form of art. She intends to continue working on these tribal art forms and showcase their unique identity to the world.

I am fortunate to talk to Sri Harsha about her inspirations and her artwork in detail, which gave me a better insight into the ancient tribal art forms.

Avani Muppidi Maya Shakha-Amersham

165 | P a g e

ॐ Meena Ganesh

o D.O.B: 1963 o Education: BSc Physics, MBA Management o Occupation: Serial Entrepreneur

Meena Ganesh was born in 1963, She completed bachelor’s in Physics and master’s in Business Management. She is working as a Serial Entrepreneur. To me, Meena Ganesh is an inspiration for the development of modern India. She has used her vast experience in the Healthcare and Education industry to rapidly innovate both systems, by providing efficient and cheaper services to millions.

Role model for Indian Women

Meena has worked her way through the corporate world in times when women were not seen and recognised in this sector. I believe she is a complete role model to all the Indian women who have inspirations in life but struggle to build courage to pursue their ambition into action.

Having personally worked in the Education sector for many years and conducting one to one private tuitions, I recently have been considering starting online tuitions. However, I feel very anxious to start the process. Meena had started up the online tuition service when this type of service was not even recognised. Having realised this, it encourages me to start up my own online tuitions, where demand is very high.

166 | P a g e

Despite her successes she realised she was fortunate enough that her husband and in laws supported her dreams. However, not every woman is fortunate in the Indian society to get the support they need to fulfil their dreams. She quotes “if you really want to do something, you have to speak up and convince people of your passion”. She has helped countless women follow their dreams with her influential advice.

Meena expresses:

• The importance of prioritising work to increase productivity • The need of welfare in the household to fully benefit in the corporate world • A passion for openness and willingness to help everyone around you


With the support of her husband Ganesh, they started TutorVista in 2008, an Online tutoring service platform. During this period online tuitions were very uncommon. Despite this they realised the rise of a digital age and managed to set up in 35 schools, housing 35,000 students and eventually Pearson took acquisition in 2012. Meena advised “Finding balance between home and career, seeking help and not expecting yourself to be able to do everything”.

Contribution in the Corporate world

Meena started her career with prestigious firms PwC and Microsoft, by providing consultancy services for start-ups. This set up the foundations for her to take on the role as a CEO of Tesco for operations in India. She was the only Indian in the

167 | P a g e

Global retail at the time. This proves her motivation towards her contribution as an Indian woman in the corporate world. Her thought was “Women are as talented and can be as ambitious as men” if we put gender aside and move on.

Whilst she cared for her father who was diagnosed with cancer, she struggled between leading her life and care of parents. The aftercare from hospitals was important which she felt was neglected. Therefore, she spent 6 months identifying market problems in the Health sector, whilst caring for her father. She constantly asked herself “Does your solution make a big impact on people’s lives?”

With this idea, in July 2013 Meena Co-founded Protea Medical. A remote tech based, healthcare service provider. This service offers home visits of doctors, nurses, and physiotherapists. Protea Medical focuses on general primary healthcare, post Op care and chronic diseases. She partnered up with 70 hospitals and provided this home service about 30% cheaper than the hospitals.

This service has tremendously helped those who cannot visit hospitals, at an affordable rate. As a result, the whole society benefited and brought a positive change. Her belief “Learn all the time, from what you do, what others do, never stop learning however good you think you are.” She personally feels connected.

Positive change in the Indian Society

Throughout Meena’s career, she asked herself” what more can I do to make a difference”, constantly challenging herself with innovative ideas. It is this part of her thinking that I admire the most. Believe in yourself and bring a change.

168 | P a g e

Even though she herself grew up in an environment where the idea of women having careers was uncommon, she has brought a very positive change in the Indian society.

At present during these unprecedented times, her home visit services for health have shown great demand, providing alternative solutions to hospital visits in person.

Meena has proved that Indian women can achieve their ambitions if they believe in themselves and possess that thrive to succeed. She is truly an inspiring lady who has always balanced her family and career in an appropriate manner.

Figure 11

Rashmi Bhatt Rukmani Shakha | Hounslow

169 | P a g e

Born in 1920 in Calcutta to a Brahmin family, Sitara Devi was named Dhanlaxami.

Sitara Devi was an eminent Indian dancer of the classical style of dancing, singer, and an actress.

She began performing at an early age of 10 and because of her commitment towards learning and finessing her art, she had to discontinue schooling.

11-year-old Devi gave a Kathak recital in Atiya Begum Palace before a selected audience, which included , Sarojini Naidu and Sir Cowasji Jehangir.

Devi was one of the pioneers who brought the classical Indian dance into the context of Hindi film industry.

She also challenged the regressive practice of child marriage when she was about to be married off at the tender age of eight.

At the age of ten, Sitara Devi started short solo performances during movie intervals in a local theatre in Varanasi for a year.

Rabindranath Tagore was impressed with her phenomenal talent that he described her as ‘Nritya Samragni ', meaning the empress of dance, after watching the performance at just 16 years old.

She was conferred with prestigious honours like Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1969, Padma Shree in 1973, in 1995 and the India Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011 for her imminent contribution ranging over six decades to classical dance.

170 | P a g e

Sitara Devi was also a teacher and some of her famous students include Madhubala, , Mala Sinha and .

She was recipient of several awards and accolades and performed at various prestigious venues in India and abroad, including at the Royal Albert Hall, London in 1976 and at the Carnegie Hall, in 1976.

Sitara Devi is an example of how dedication, passion and practice come together to mark a life-long learning and success in life.

Maya Shakha Amersham Manisha Arora

171 | P a g e

ॐ Sophia Duleep Singh

Princess, Suffragette, and Revolutionary

I admire Sophia Duleep Singh due to her personal achievements as well as the way she inspired others and became a role model not only in Britain but also in India and other British colonies that time.

As a Sikh, she brought the biggest change of “Women for Vote” with her suffragette movement.

Sophia is an inspiring woman and role model for all the women in the world as her extraordinary work instilled great values in society.

Early life

Sophia Duleep Singh was born on 8 August 1876 at Belgravia and lived in Suffolk. She was the third daughter of Maharaja Duleep Singh (the last Maharaja of the Sikh Empire) and his first wife, Bamba Müller (daughter of Ludwig Müller, a German merchant banker of Todd Müller and Company). Her grandfather was the mighty , ruler of the North of India from 1801 to 1839, known simply as Sher-e-Punjab or Lion of Punjab.

Sophia, the second youngest of Duleep Singh’s six children, grew up amidst dazzling opulence where rooms were filled with Persian rugs, tiger skins and jewelled artefacts. Mouldings were crusted in gold leaf, surfaces covered in light catching pietra dura and plasterwork was made to look like finely carved marble.

172 | P a g e

When Duleep asked Queen Victoria to become Sophia’s godmother, she agreed without hesitation, such was the warmth between the two families.

Sophia was saved by her godmother, who not only gathered in the distraught and fatherless family upon their return from Aden, but also took control of Sophia’s schooling when her mother died. She personally granted Sophia a grace-and-favour house at Hampton Court Palace and hosted her ‘Coming Out’ at Buckingham Palace. In return, Sophia spent her twenties working extremely hard to become incredibly vacuous.

She attended every party and social event of note, gracing the pages of women’s magazines with her taste in fashion and more scandalous antics. When Sophia wore pearls in her hair, it became material for the newsprint. She became one of the first women in England to ride a bicycle, and won the precursor competition of Crufts, with her Pomeranians beating those of the royal family.

The extraordinary life of Sophia Duleep Singh and her fight for equality and women's suffrage and activism

Despite Sophia being banned from India, Sophia and her sisters were desperate to attend the Delhi Durbar, an epic celebration of King Edward VII’s coronation. Never able to resist a good party, Sophia sneaked into the country against the wishes of the Secretary of State for India. There, in the land of her forefathers, she experienced racism for the first time in her life, because of at that time in India.

Though she was a celebrity in London, in India she was one in a sea of brown faces, all of whom were second class citizens. She saw famine and suffering at first hand and attributed them to the harshness of colonial rule. The cry of the

173 | P a g e

Indian nationalists proved irresistible and awoke a sense of dispossession in Sophia which had long lain dormant. Never again would she be carefree.

After Sophia returned from India in 1909, she joined the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) at the behest of Una Dugdale, a friend of the Pankhurst sisters; Emmeline Pankhurst had co-founded the Women's Franchise League in 1889. In 1909 Sophia was a leading member of the movement for women's voting rights, funding suffragette groups and leading the cause. She refused to pay taxes, frustrating the government.

Although as a British subject Sophia’s primary interest was women's rights in England, she and her fellow suffragettes also promoted similar activities in the colonies. She valued her Indian heritage but was not bound by allegiance to a single nation and supported the women's cause in several countries. Her title, Princess, was useful. Sophia sold a suffragette newspaper outside Hampton Court Palace.

At first, Sophia kept a low profile; in 1911 she was reluctant to make speeches in public or at Women's Social and Political Union meetings. She refused to chair meetings, telling her WSPU colleagues she was "quite useless for that sort of thing" and would only say "five words if nobody else would support the forthcoming resolution". However, Sophia later chaired and addressed several meetings.

Sophia authorised an auction of her belongings, with proceeds benefiting the Women's Tax Resistance League. She solicited subscriptions to the cause and was photographed selling The Suffragette newspaper outside her home and from press carts. On 22 May 1911 Sophia was fined £3 by the Spelthorne Petty Sessions Court for illegally keeping a coach, a helper, and five dogs and for using a roll of arms. She protested that she should not have to pay the licence

174 | P a g e

ॐ fees without the right to vote. That July a bailiff went to Sophia’s house to collect an unpaid fine of 14 shillings, which she refused to pay. Her diamond ring was then confiscated by the police and auctioned a few days later; a friend bought it and returned it to her in December 1913.

On 13 December 1913 she and other WTRL members appeared in court and Sophia was again accused of keeping dogs without a licence. Sophia tried to fall in front of Prime Minister H. H. Asquith's car while holding a poster reading, "Give women the vote!"

Despite Sophia’s activism as a suffragette, she was never arrested; although her activities were watched by the administration, they may not have wanted to make a martyr of her.

During World War I, Sophia initially supported the Indian soldiers in the British fleets and joined a 10,000-woman protest march against the prohibition of a volunteer female force.

She volunteered as a British Red Cross Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse, serving at an auxiliary military hospital in Isleworth from October 1915 to January 1917. Sikh soldiers could hardly believe "that the granddaughter of Ranjit Singh sat by their bedsides in a nurse's uniform".

After the 1918 enactment of the Representation of the People Act, allowing women over age 30 to vote, Sophia joined the Suffragette Fellowship and remained a member until her death.

Her arrangement of a flag day that year for Indian troops generated shock waves in England and New Delhi. In September 1919 Sophia hosted the Indian soldiers of the peace contingent at Faraday House.

175 | P a g e

Five years later, she made her second visit to India with Bamba and Colonel Sutherland. Sophia visited Kashmir, Lahore, Amritsar, and Murre, and this visit boosted the cause of female suffrage in India. The badge she wore promoted women's suffrage in Britain and abroad.

Sophia eventually received a place of honour in the suffragette movement alongside Emmeline Pankhurst. Her sole aim in life, which she attained, was the advancement of women. Queen Victoria had given Sophia an elaborately dressed doll named Little Sophie, which became her proud possession.

She was the vacuous socialite who developed an all-consuming social conscience. Most intriguing of all, Sophia fought for British women – for their democracy and the right to vote – even though Britain had taken everything from her family. The suffragettes were all extraordinary women, but even in their midst, Sophia stands out.

Black Friday

Sophia, Emmeline Pankhurst, and a group of activists went to the House of Commons on 18 November 1910, approximately 300 suffragettes marched to the House of Commons to protest at the failure of the first Conciliation Bill and hoped for a meeting with the Prime Minister. The ordered their expulsion, and many of the women were seriously injured. The incident became known as Black Friday.

Sophia made enemies of the most powerful men in the Empire, including and King George V.


176 | P a g e

• 1928 - Royal consent was given to the Equal Franchise Act enabling women over age 21 to vote on a par with men. • 1930 & 1934 edition of Who's Who, Sophia described her life's purpose as "the advancement of women". She played a significant role at a crucial point in the history of England and India • 2015 - Featured in the documentaries Sophia: Suffragette Princess and No Man Shall Protect Us. • 15 February 2018 - Featured in the Royal Mail's commemorative stamp set "Votes for Women" and also on the £1.57 stamp, selling The Suffragette. • April 2018 - Her name and picture (and those of 58 other women's suffrage supporters) are on the plinth of the statue of Millicent Fawcett in Parliament Square, London unveiled. • 2018 - The Hidden History of the Suffragette Bodyguards portrayed in the latter production by actress Aila Peck.


Sophia died in her sleep on 22 August 1948 in Colehatch House, in Penn, Buckinghamshire. Before her death she had expressed the wish that she be cremated according to Sikh rites and her ashes spread in India.

Rajni Tuli Durga Shakha | Reading

177 | P a g e


Coming from humble beginnings, is a standout example of a Hindu woman who firmly grasped the opportunities and successfully tackled the challenges that came with being a woman of colour in a foreign land. Making her way to the very top of a heavily white male dominated corporate environment and transforming a large company not only heavily rooted in American culture but also the second largest food and beverage company in the world.

Becoming the highest-ranking woman of Indian heritage in corporate America, and numerously ranked among the most powerful women in the world, Indra has been very clear that the values of her upbringing have been instrumental to her achievements and the legacy she has left behind since stepping down as CEO of PepsiCo in 2018.

178 | P a g e

Indra was born in Madras (now Chennai), Tamil Nadu in 1955. Brought up in a traditional South Indian Hindu home, expectations were high in education but also a traditional path of an Indian woman with early marriage by the age of 20. In Indra’s own words, “I grew up with a mother who said, ‘I’ll arrange a marriage for you at 18,’ but she also said that we could achieve anything we put our minds to and encouraged us to dream of becoming Prime Minister or President.” Indra received bachelor’s degrees in Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics from Madras Christian College of the University of Madras in 1974 and a Post Graduate Programme Diploma (MBA) from the Indian Institute of Management in 1976.

During her early career as a product manager in India at Johnson & Johnson and then the textile firm Mettur Beardsell, Indra expressed an interest in studying abroad in the USA. Going to a foreign country alone and unmarried would have been out of the question, but with the firm belief by her family that she would not be awarded a scholarship, they granted her permission convinced she would never get in. When Indra was awarded the scholarship Indra says it was “the men in my family – my grandfather and my father that put their foot down and said, “I don’t care if it’s girls or boys, they all will have an equal shot at being whatever they want to be”. After careful consideration, ensuring a firm support network was established to ensure Indra was not alone in a foreign country and the added exemption given Indra’s older sister Chandrika was yet to marry, Indra moved to the USA in 1978.

By 1980 Indra had earned a master’s degree in Public and Private Management from Yale School of Management. Indra joined the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) as a strategy consultant the same year, followed by other senior strategic

179 | P a g e

ॐ roles at Motorola and Asea Brown Boveri before joining PepsiCo in 1994 as Head of Corporate Strategy. Indra married Raj Nooyi in 1981 and has two daughters.

During Indra’s 24 years at PepsiCo, she served as CEO for 12 years from 2006 - 2018. Not only dedicating double the average tenure of a CEO position (CEOs usually serve for an average of 6 years), Indra’s dedication to the success of the business as well as her ingrained sense of wider social responsibility has transformed PepsiCo and set it up to succeed for many years to come in more ways than just the bottom line.

In many interviews during her position as CEO, Indra states “the only way you run a company for the duration of the company and not the duration of the CEO is to invest responsibly in transformation when the world demands transformation.” Indra never failed in her commitment of running a successful business and transformed the social responsibility that comes with such a large corporate to be built into how the company makes money rather than spends money as an afterthought.

A difficult transformation in changing hard set views and diversifying an already successful company with a core set of products, Indra set about realising her vision of ‘Performance with Purpose’ through focusing on three main pillars:

• Human sustainability – fundamentally changing the product portfolio: increasing permissibility of ‘fun for you’ products by reducing the fat, sugar and salt content of these products; dialling up the good for you products

180 | P a g e

which was a massive culture change in the company; starting to provide affordable nutrition to underserved communities. • Environmental sustainability – reducing water use, increasing recycling, decreasing carbon footprint (also mandatory to run PepsiCo plants especially in water distressed communities). • People at PepsiCo – encouraging diversity and inclusion to create an environment to attract the best and the brightest and retain them – most notably women, given they are more than half of the population, and the majority of the top performers coming out of education and into the workplace.

Though challenging at the time, Indra has proven that running a successful business while also making a positive difference in the world we live in is how all businesses can and should be run – during her tenure as CEO she grew the company’s sales by 80%.

Key to shaping Indra’s thinking as a leader, Indra has stated her growing up in Southern India with a lack of luxury “gave [her] the appreciation for how to use the precious resources that we have today”. She also states that growing up in a water distressed community, she had a “new found respect for what the communities have to go through and what you do as a company who uses a lot of water to create your products – not only reducing water usage in creation of products but also bringing together the technologies you have at your disposal to improve the water usage in these water distressed communities”.

181 | P a g e

In addition to Indra’s recognition of her upbringing, she speaks openly about the difficulties of being a woman in the corporate world and the impossibility of ‘having it all’. She admits that “the biological clock and the career clock are in total conflict with each other.” Indra also states that “as a woman, you have numerous responsibilities [and are] in need of a good support network”.

During Indra’s time at PepsiCo she also set up a professional childcare facility on the PepsiCo campuses to better enable women to work and take care of their young children – a part of her strategy to retain the best and the brightest talent. This is quite an achievement and unusual in America who are notoriously known for poor maternity and parental support in the workplace.

Indra is clear that her accomplishments could not have been achieved without a strong support network of immediate and extended family, which is intrinsic to her Indian culture. This is a value she is actively promoting as a solution to supporting societies in all stages of life – she states that “there’s a way for society, to take ageing parents, the children and the grandchildren, and create a supportive ecosystem where all of society improves as opposed to everybody struggling…I think that’s the next revolution”.

Since stepping down as CEO of PepsiCo, Indra continues to inspire and be honest with the next generation in the hope they will learn from her experiences. She speaks very candidly about the challenges and sacrifices to having such a high-profile and successful career. In her parting words to staff at PepsiCo, she

182 | P a g e

ॐ said to “think hard about time” and admitted there were times she wished she had spent more time with her children and family.

Though she is no longer bound by such a demanding schedule, Indra is keeping busy - she is now a member of Amazon’s Board of Directors and is also writing a book about the challenges of integrating work and family life.

On the home front Indra also talks about how she understands how her children must have felt when they were young and she wasn’t around as much – and longs for more time with them now that they are all grown up and not home much. She has vowed to be “the best Indian grandparents there could be” in the hope that her children will sometime soon have children of their own and they will have the support network she had to be able to go out and be the best of whatever they want to be.

Rachna Murray Rukmini Shakha | Hounslow

183 | P a g e

P. V. Sindhu

Hinduism, one of the oldest religions in the world, has always respected women and has always promoted them in every field. As a result, Hindu women have been and are working in every field all over the world and are performing well.

Pusarla Venkata Sindhu is one of these famous Hindu women. She was born in Hyderabad, India in 1995. Her parents supported and motivated her and helped her in her career so well that at the age of 24, she achieved the rank of second in the world as an international badminton player. She is known as P. V. Sindhu. It is the outcome of her diligent hard work which is now an example for every woman in the world.

Whenever we talk about any sports person or discuss their success story, it is always about the devotion, hard work and effort put in by the player. It is always about the story of loyalty and honesty with the dream, to reach the pinnacle of success. The commitment and dedication by Sindhu has no doubt created 184 | P a g e

ॐ history today. Being the daughter of national volleyball players, she found herself interested more in badminton and decided to make her career in it.

She started playing badminton at the age of eight, she started winning various titles from the age of ten and thus started the story of winning awards.

Sindhu started her international career in 2009 at the age of fourteen when she won a bronze medal. After that the series of winning international awards continued and includes the Commonwealth Games of 2011, 2014 and 2018, the Asian Games of 2014 and 2018, the World Championship of 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018 and 2019 and the of 2016. She improved her skills up to such a level that she transformed her victory from bronze to Gold.

She bagged various national and international awards worldwide. India has honoured her several times with honourable awards namely Arjuna Award (2013), Padma Shri (2015), (2016) and Padma Bhushan (2020). She was the Indian flag bearer in the opening ceremony of the . Besides these, she has received other international awards. In 2019, she was the first Indian to win the Badminton World Championship.

While profiling P. V. Sindhu’s career, a very famous newspaper of India namely, ‘The Hindu,’ wrote – “The fact that she reports on time at the coaching camps daily, travelling a distance of 56 km from her residence, is perhaps a reflection of her willingness to complete her desire to be a good badminton player with the 185 | P a g e

ॐ required hard work and commitment.” Besides this, her coach Gopichand Pullela said that, “The most striking feature in Sindhu’s game is her attitude and the never-say-die spirit”. With all the sacrifices, determination, dedication towards her goal and disciplined life, she has created history.

Apart from her career and achievements, she also understands her social responsibilities. She has a kind heart and has extended her support during the major Covid-19 Pandemic by donating funds for the workers in the country after lockdown was declared in India.

She has set the best example for Hindu women of the world that ‘Where there is a will, there is a way’. Hard work always leads to success and disciplined hard work creates history. P.V. Sindhu is the perfect face of disciplined hard work, one who is no doubt being admired by many all over the world.

Nupur Agrawal Durga Shakha | Basingstoke

186 | P a g e

ॐ Sushma Swaraj

What does one recall as soon as they hear the name Sushma Swaraj? Her attire as a dignified Hindu Women in Saree? Her bindi and sindoor? Her helping hand as external affairs minister. There are many to list out.

She was born in Haryana to Hardev Sharma and Shrimati Laxmi Devi which was a traditional RSS family. She did her graduation in law from Punjab University, Chandigarh. During her graduation, her interest was drawn more towards the firebrand, socialist student activism. She started her political life with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)' student wing. Later she had been registered as an advocate in the .

Sushma Swaraj later joined BJP and held various designations in the Indian government. She was an experienced female political leader that many people respected from the BJP, who broke all sorts of glass ceilings in an era when women were not a very common sight in Indian politics, especially in crucial roles. She is known especially for her "oratorial", "administrative" and "kind and compassionate" nature.

187 | P a g e

She is one such leader who wore both identity and her politics confidently on her sleeves. She supported the Ayodhya-Ram Janmabhoomi movement and travelled extensively with L.K.Advani during rath yatra.

Sushma Swaraj urged parliament members to pass the CAA bill, pending in the Upper House, to help resolve issues pertaining to atrocities and attacks on minorities, including those in Pakistan and . She said there had been reports of violence and harassment against members of minority communities in neighbouring countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh etc. which included killings, persecution, intimidation, forced conversions, desecrations, vandalization of places of worship and attacks on business establishments.

She also voiced her opinion and pressured the Pakistan government to act on the matter of two Pakistani Hindu girls being forced into conversion and marriage.

Later Sushma Swaraj was appointed as external affairs minister in the Modi government and she changed the very orientation of that ministry. Considered a secretive and an elite club ministry, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) was not known to be accessible to people. She developed a reputation for her warm interactions with Indian citizens on social media. She helped Indians who were stuck in foreign countries.

188 | P a g e

She will be remembered for her leadership in opening the external affairs ministry and consulates across the globe to any Indian who needed help. She also came to aid for women facing domestic violence in Pakistan.

Sushma Swaraj was the figure of a woman who did not hesitate to wear her culture on herself. Her sewa towards society which she took part in her designation is very much appreciated and has been awarded Padma Vibhushan by Indian Government.

Sushma never shied away from appearing as the epitome of the married Hindu woman, with her sindoor and her bindi, which she wore proudly. These have always been a part of Sushma Swaraj's ensemble. She put the spotlight on Indian women and their strength. And her powerful vocal eloquence in halls all over the world bear testimony to that.

Shalini Jeevanigi Durga Shakha | Reading

189 | P a g e

ॐ Sushma Swaraj

Sushma Swaraj, a name which we all reckon with, was a towering figure in Indian Politics for four decades. She was one of the most respected leaders of BJP and is best remembered for her legacy as Foreign Minister.

A lawyer, a student activist, an exemplary leader, and a fiery orator; she is an inspiration to me and an entire generation of women and men alike.

An Inspiring Educational Background

Contrary to the norm in Indian politics, Swaraj’s political career was empowered by a strong educational background. She had a bachelor’s degree with honours in Political Science and Sanskrit. Then she studied LL.B. and practiced as a Supreme Court advocate.

190 | P a g e

Sushma Swaraj was excellent in her extracurricular activities. She received several awards of distinction in debates, rhetoric contests, recitations, dramas and other cultural activities. Apart from being a keen reader of poetry and literature, she also took interest in classical music, poetry, fine arts, and drama.

A “Distinguished Marriage”

Sushma Swaraj enjoyed a heart-warming camaraderie with husband Swaraj Kaushal. They were interestingly believers of opposite ideologies -- Sushma Swaraj was brought up in a political atmosphere as her father was an RSS member, while Swaraj Kaushal had a socialist belief system.

Sushma Swaraj and her husband Swaraj Kaushal have been accredited as the ‘Most Distinguished Couple’ by Limca Book of Records for their achievements and distinction at a young age.

The Political Graph

The seven-time MP and three times MLA, Swaraj's association with the Sangh started at birth - she was born into a family of RSS members in Haryana - her active brush with politics began as a student leader in 1970. She was closely associated with Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of RSS.

Swaraj's rise in politics coincided in some ways with the growth of BJP as a party. The following picture speaks 1000 words about her political career:

191 | P a g e

Swaraj will be always counted among the very few women who held their own in politics, primarily a male domain in India.

A Great Orator

A brilliant bilingual speaker, Swaraj enjoyed the cut and thrust of parliamentary debates. She was given the Best Speaker award by the Haryana State Assembly.

Poetic encounters involving and Sushma Swaraj enlivened the House and remain memorable for their humour and wit. Remembering below a few of her witty responses:

• Tumhe wafa yaad nahi, humein jafa yaad nahi; zindagi aur maut ke toh do hi tarane hein, ek tumhe yaad nahi, ek hamein yaad nahi - 15th , Manmohan Singh 2013 • We have IITs, IIMs and AIIMS but Pakistan created Let, JeM and Hizbul Mujahideen – at UNGA

192 | P a g e

• I am doing Chowkidari of Indian interests and Indian nationals abroad – To a troll in 2019

Her speech at the UN General Assembly in September 2016 will always be remembered as one of her best.

A “Digital Diplomat”

In 2014, Swaraj was given the charge of the Foreign Ministry – a role for which she won many plaudits across party lines. She earned the reputation of being the “Peoples Minister” who helped the diaspora by her revolutionary social media outreach.

Sushma Swaraj's interventions on social media and digital diplomacy were much talked about. While her efforts saw the rescue of Gurpreet Kaur who had landed up in a refugee camp with her eight-year-old daughter in , return of deaf and dumb Geeta, Uzma - who was forced to marry at gun point in Pakistan, and Hamid Ansari from Pakistan.

Handling of Maldives crisis, Nepal blockade, Doklam stand-off with China and successful challenge of Kulbhushan Jadhav case in the International Court of Justice are among some of the major accomplishments of India's foreign policy with Sushma Swaraj at the helm of affairs.

This year on February 19, Swaraj accepted the prestigious Grand Cross of Order of Civil Merit, which was conferred by the Spanish government in recognition of India's support in evacuating its citizens from Nepal during the earthquake of 2015.

Swaraj was aptly called the crusading "Supermom" of India by the Washington Post. 193 | P a g e

The Bearer of Indian Culture

With her bindi, sindoor and her saree Sushma Swaraj put the India Woman on the world map. She is known for celebrating Indian festivals with great enthusiasm. Every time that she stepped out of her house, whether to attend the assembly or to represent India in a foreign land, her saree, and her pride of being a Hindu woman followed, in tow.

She inspires me in all the above realms, as a woman who smashed political patriarchy and blazed through politics with humour, empathy, and loyalty.

‘A strong woman stands up for herself. A stronger woman stands up for everybody else’, goes a famous adage. Sushma Swaraj by all means was the stronger one.

Poonam Zabak Bharti Shakha | Newbury

194 | P a g e

A Social Reformer

In the spiritual , a woman saint, Akka Mahadevi, stands apart as a majestic and awe-inspiring persona who dared to rebel against inequality and gender discrimination in the 12th century. Akka Mahadevi is highly regarded for her short poems and is seen as an inspirational woman in Indian history. Along with scaling the heights of spirituality, her undaunted courage and temerity to live life on her own terms in the face of incessant adversities and opposition is an example for womankind.

Being born in an ascetic family Akka Mahadevi was initiated to worship Bhagwan Shiva at an early age. She considered this initiation to be the most important moment of her life and she became a devoted worshipper of Shiva. Local King Koushika asked for her hand in marriage as Mahadevi was epitome of beauty. However, she refused, but later had to agree to protect her family and parents.

195 | P a g e

Married to the king against her will, Mahadevi subsequently left her husband and renounced the palace leaving worldly pleasures and possessions behind.

After her shift in perspective, she started preaching about empowerment and spiritualism. Akka Mahadevi’s poems highlight the importance of spiritual progression in one’s life. Her Poems that are called ‘Vachanas’ hold a unique place in the long history of Kannada literature.

Her brief but deeply intense verses sparkle with the magic and music of words, conveying the core spiritual philosophy which is the essence of Hinduism.

It is said that after a few years of , Akka Mahadevi went to the famous Shiva mandir in Andhra Pradesh and spent the last months of her life in various caves, completing her process of enlightenment, and attained Mahasamadhi, divine union with her Lord. Akka Mahadevi leaves behind a legacy of illumining poetry that still evokes courage and divine love in the hearts of all.

Akka Mahadevi’s life was a testimony to the power of Courage, Devotion and Faith and she was considered an epitome of feminism. She was a revolutionary, a social reformer, an ardent devotee, and a great poet.

Chetna Bhat Rukmini Shakha | Hounslow

196 | P a g e

ॐ Kalpana Saroj

A Journey from Rs 2 to 1000 crore

Kalpana Saroj is truly a woman of substance in all senses. Today’s leading business woman and winner of Padma Shri Award in the field of Trade & Industries 2013, is yesterday’s child bride who had to fight hard for her rights. It is hard to believe that this woman who has more than 7 successful companies under her name with a net worth of more than 1000 crores comes from an underprivileged family from a small town called, Murtijapur in district of Maharashtra.

Humble beginnings

Kalpana came from a small town in the state of Maharashtra. Born into an underprivileged scheduled caste family, she had just basic education to her credit before she was married off as a child bride at age of 12 and lived in a slum in Mumbai with her husband's family. After suffering physical abuse at the hands of her husband's family members, she was rescued by her father, left her husband, and returned to her village to live with her parents. She attempted suicide after being ostracized by the villagers. At the age of 16, she moved back to Mumbai to live with her uncle. She started working in a garment factory to support her family for meagre Rs 2 per day. Using government loans for scheduled caste people, she successfully started a tailoring business and then a furniture store.

197 | P a g e

She had a difficult journey because she had to fight against so many social stigmas like caste, child marriage, and right to education for girls as well as women employment which were till then and even now are social taboos in some regions of our country.

Her Life Journey

Kalpana Saroj had always had a sharp eye for business and keen interest in it. That is the reason that in only a matter of years she has managed to successfully add 7 companies under her label Kalpana Group of Industries. She has shown that if you have vision, determination, and ability to be resourceful, you can turn your dreams into reality. Mrs. Saroj has successfully established her presence in the fields of manufacturing, agriculture, real estate, exports, and film production. Her most successful venture has been the revival of Kamani Tubes limited which was a sick company for more than 20 years. And it is thanks to her credible efforts, that the company has been seeing a positive growth since she took over in 2006.

Global Presence

Mrs. Saroj in the past has handled commanding positions as ex-director of Bhartiya Mahila Bank ( first women only bank), representative of India at the International Dalit Conference held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Canada, representative of India at the World Peace Conference in USA, iscusse social and culturrl issues at Buddha Viharas in London with Mayor Mr. Madhav Rao Patil, visited Kargil to encourage soldiers during the Kargil war etc.

198 | P a g e

Awards & Recognitions

o Padmashree Award in field of Trade and Industries by Govt of India in 2013 o World Buddhist Outstanding Leader Award by World Alliance of Buddhist leaders. - 2016 o Mata Savitri Jyotibai Phule Award from Ex-Prime Minister of India Hon. Shri. V.P. Singh in 2001 o Buddha Kunupakan Award by Parliament o Ninth Annual Rajiv Gandhi Award for Woman Entrepreneurs Mumbai in 2006 o Honour given by the Mayor of the London Municipal Corporation o Jhalkaridevi Award given by Parliament Speaker Ms. Meerakumar in 2007 o Special Honours given by Honourable Piyadassi MBA, London o Savitribai Phule Award in 2009 by Inspector General of Police, Maharashtra o Special honour given by the citizens of Akola in 2007 by the Hon. Governor Dadasaheb Gavai o Special honour given by the Municipal Corporation of in 2011 o World Buddhist Foundation- special honour given by the organizer of centenary celebration of Great Britain in 2008.

Social Causes

Mrs. Saroj has been a flag bearer of helping the downtrodden, promoting women empowerment, education, health, social justice and extending a hand to the needy by creating rural employment. She has organized several activities to help protect the rights of underprivileged, ran health awareness programs,

199 | P a g e

ॐ blood donation camps and offered medicine, food, and financial aid to the less fortunate in Maharashtra.

Armed with a lifetime of experience and an admirable journey, Mrs. Kalpana Saroj surely proves that to be a successful entrepreneur, you don’t necessarily need big degrees, just big dreams and determination to achieve them.

As she says, "If you give your heart and soul to your job and never give up, things can happen for you".

Apara Sharma, Rukmini Shakha | Hounslow

200 | P a g e

दीपिक कु म री तीरदं ाज़ी (Archery)

खेल कई ह ℂ इस युग मᴂ पर, धनुर्विा भारत की प्राचीन धरोहर है

अर्िुन, एकल핍य, लव और कु श र्ैसी इस युग मᴂ भी एक धनुधिर है

फु टबॉल, र्िकेट, बैडर्मंटन तो गली-गली ने देखे, ब楍चⴂ ने भी खेले हℂ

इस आधुर्नक र्गत मᴂ लेर्कन र्वरल े ही अप्रर्तम धनुधिर ह ℂ ।

आइये आर् खेल र्गत की इस र्हदं ू नारी से आपको र्मलवाते हℂ

भारत का गवि बढ़ाने वाली युवा शर्ि से पररर्चत करवाते ह ℂ ।

रांची के र्शवनारायण और गीता महतो के घर र्ꅍमी परी एक नꅍही सी

दीर्पका कु मारी कहलाई , और जग मᴂ रौशनी फै लाई सूरर् सी

ऑटो-ररक्शा चलाते थे र्पता, मााँ छोटे से अपताल मᴂ नसि थĂ

र्खलोने से खेलना दूर की बात, घर मᴂ पैसⴂ की तगड़ी तंगी थी ।

201 | P a g e

छोटी सी इस ब楍ची को आम बहुत ही भाते थे,

पथ्थर से र्नशाना साध कर पेड़ से आम र्गराए र्ाते थे

र्ान न पायĂ कब इनको तीरदं ाज़ी इतनी लुभाने लगी

म ाँ-प प से ज़िद न कर सकी धनुष-ब ण ज़दलव ने की

स्वयं ही कोज़शश करने लगी ब ाँस से धनुष-ब ण बन ने की ।

१२ वषष की दीज़पक के ज़लए २००५ प्रथम अवसर ल य ,

ज़वद्य दीदी ने अजषुन तीरदं जी संस्थ न से संपकष कर य

इतन मीठ एक वषष के कज़ठन पररश्रम क फल प य

२००६ ट ट अक दमी मᴂ प्रज़शक्षण क स्वज़णषम अवसर ल य ।

अब १३ स ल की दीज़पक क लक्ष्य म तृभूज़म क म न बढ़ न थ

मेज़ससको मᴂ आयोज़जत वर्ल्ष चℂज़पयनज़शप से स्वणष पदक घर ल न थ

यह तो बस शु셁आत थी अब ज़वश्व मᴂ ज़तरगं लहर ने की ब री थी

भ रत म ाँ की बेटी ने अ핍वल अंतर ष्ट्रीय तीरदं ज बनने की ठ नी थी ।

202 | P a g e

२०१० के भी सय कहने - एज़शयन गे륍स मᴂ रख ज़लय देश क म न

र ष्ट्रम赍्ल खेल मᴂ २ स्वणष प दकⴂ से बढ़ य र ष्ट्र क स륍म न

मज़हल ररकवष टीम क गोर्ल् मै्ल प ने क भी पणू ष ज़कय अरम न

और कॉमनवेर्लथ मᴂ भी २ स्वणष प दक ल कर बढ़ ई भ रत की श न ।

भारतीय तीरदं ार्ी के इर्तहास मᴂ वर्ि २०१० सदैव र्वशेर् सराहना पायेगा

ररकवि तीरदं ार् दीर्पका के वर्णिम प्रदशिनⴂ के र्लए २०१० हमेश ज न ज येग ।

२०११ और १२ मᴂ भी इस्त ंबुल, टोसयो, चीन, टकी मᴂ भ रत को ज़कय गौरव ज़ववत

तीरदं िी मᴂ ज़वश्व ज़वजेत बन अजषुन परु स्क र से भी हुई स륍म ज़नत ।

जैसे चमकत सूरज कभी ब दलⴂ मᴂ छु प भी ज त है , वैसे ही ज़खल ड़ी कभी ह र भी ज त है

२०१२ लंदन ओलंज़पसस मᴂ इस दीप की लौ क्षीणष हुई, आलोचकⴂ के तंज सुन मनोज़स्तज़थ ग륍भीर हुई

ह र से अवस द-ग्रस्त हो ज़दन- र त दीज़पक रोती थीं, ख न -पीन सब छू ट , चैन से भी न सोती थीं

प्रशंषकⴂ ने उठ ए ल खⴂ सव ल, मन ही मन सोच दीज़पक ने तीरदं िी से ही देन होग इवहᴂ जव ब

र ष्ट्र-प्रेम ने ज़फर जग ई आश की एक नई ज़करण - नय जोश, नई स्फू ज़तष,दीज़पक ने प ई नई लगन।

203 | P a g e

खुद से बोली - "कभी हार कभी र्ीत र्मलेगी, मुझ े बस बेहतर होते र्ाना है

लक्ष्य मेरा ओलंर्पक्स मᴂ वणि पदक लाकर भारत मााँ को सर्ाना है"

"भारत मााँ की हर बेटी से मℂ र्नवेदन करती ह ,ाँ सपना देखो देश के र्लए

एक र्दन सच हो र्ायेगा; म ℂ भी र्वर्म पररर्तर्थयⴂ से र्नकली ह ाँ

पश्री यर्द मुझे र्मल सकता है, तो एक र्दन तु륍हारा भी हो र्ायेगा

र्गरकर संभालना, अपने डर से लड़ना, पररश्रम करना और संयम रखना पड़ता है

र्ीवन की राह कर्िन है मगर, चखकर तो देखो मंर्ज़ल का फल र्कतना मीिा है ।‘’

तब से अब तक दीर्पका कु मारी खुद को सार्बत करती आयी हℂ

तीरदं ाज़ी प्रर्तयोर्गताओ ं मᴂ असंख्य कााँय , रर्त, और वणि पदक र्ीतती आयी हℂ

कर्लयुग की इस कमषयोज़गनी ने देखो अर्िुन और द्रोणाचायि की याद र्दलाई है

इतना ही नहĂ कई ब楍चⴂ मᴂ, कु छ कर गज़ु रने की र्चगं ारी भी भड़काई है ।

आर् भी दीर्पका गााँव-गााँव र्ाकर ब楍चⴂ का उत्साह बढ़ाती ह,ℂ तीरदं ाज़ी के दााँव-पᴂच र्सखाती

कज़ठन इयⴂ से लड़ने और आशावादी रहकर कु छ कर गुज़रने का अटूट हौसला भी उꅍहᴂ बंधाती ह ℂ ।

हम सब बैिे आस लगाए दीर्पका - तुम ओर्लर्륍पक्स मᴂ भारत को वणि र्र्ताओगी

शुभकामनायᴂ हमारी ह ℂ साथ तु륍हारे तुम अपने नाम के समान सदा यूाँ ही र्गमगाओगी ।

204 | P a g e

आभार हमारा, तुꅍहᴂ देखकर हम भी प्रेररत होतेहℂ - तु륍ह रे द्रढ़ संकर्लप का उदाहरण देकर

छोटी सी उम्र मᴂ सपने देखने और ऊाँ च इय ाँ छू ने की प्रेरण ब楍चⴂ व युवज़तयⴂ को देते हℂ ॥

कई पुरकार र्ीते ह ℂ दीर्पका ने , कु छ मुख्य इस प्रकार ह ℂ :

२०१२ (आयु - १८) अर्िुन अवाडि

२०१४ (आयु - २०) र्फक्की पोटटिसपसिन ऑफ़ द ईयर अवाडि

२०१६ (आयु - २२) पश्री

२०१७ (आयु - २३) यंग अचीवसि अवाडि

ि यल सेठ


205 | P a g e

ॐ Shakuntala Devi

The Wizard of Numbers who Transformed the Norms of Knowledge

Shakuntala Devi (4 November 1929 – 21 April 2013) was an Indian writer and a mathematical genius and was popularly known as the "human computer". Her talent earned her a place in the 1982 edition of The Guinness Book of World Records.

The life of this legend is highly inspiring because of her contribution in the field of mathematics. She changed the stereotypical view on maths in the society and set a personal example of the capability of women in the art of numbers. She showed everyone through her mathematical calculations, just how gifted humans can be with their minds.

It hears a testimony to her genius that she could multiply up to 26 digits mentally and do other complicated mathematical calculations in seconds, faster than any known calculator or computer.

206 | P a g e

Born to a conservative Hindu Kannada Brahmin parents, Devi was an intelligent child and demonstrated her arithmetic abilities at the University of Mysore without any formal education.

She was a child prodigy, as at the age of 5, she was found to be an expert in solving highly complex mental arithmetic problems. Her passion to expand the human capacity made her develop the concept known as ‘Mind dynamics’.

Shakuntala Devi wrote several books in her later years, including novels as well as texts about mathematics, puzzles, and astrology.

One of her books ‘The Great Mental Calculators‘ (1983), had a great impact on the views of people about mental calculations and how powerful and fascinating the human mind can become. Before the 18th century, it was believed that doing such big calculations in your own mind was strange, unusual and an almost impossible feat to achieve.

One of her lifelong efforts was to get society, and students, to be familiar with the power of mathematics and solving puzzles. She strove to simplify maths and contributed to changing the perception of ordinary people towards mathematics

207 | P a g e

ॐ by popularizing mental arithmetic tricks and making mathematics interesting, friendly and an enjoyable exercise.

Thanks to this legend, during the recent coronavirus lockdown, number- puzzles and mental tricks have played a major role in keeping me and my family mentally active by using her mentioned mathematical techniques.

To commemorate this famous mathematician, a feature film written and directed by Anu Menon and starring has been released this year, depicting her life, and her contribution to the field of mathematics and society.

In the end, I would say that this genius richly deserves her place in the pantheon of scientists and history of mankind, as she set a personal example by showing how the frontiers of the human mind can be extended and used effectively to create an impact on the society.


208 | P a g e

ॐ Ajaita Shah

Founder and CEO Of Frontier Markets

I have chosen to study and write about this young lady, Ajaita Shah because I feel that she is an inspiration to the young generation in the social and business/corporate world. She has made tremendous changes to people’s lives in rural India and uplifted women’s spirits, engaging with them to provide access to affordable and quality consumer durables to low-income households focusing on products in clean energy (solar power), agriculture, health and water sanitation, empowering women in digitised rural entrepreneurship.

Shah was born and raised in New York, USA. Her parents are originally from Rajasthan from the Jain Jewellery Community and moved to America in the 1980’s to grow their business and seek a prosperous life. She was their first US born child who was brought up in a very traditional and conservative way where

209 | P a g e

ॐ preserving our culture and religious values were very important while balancing two very different cultures at the same time, just like any Indian girl brought up in the West.

At a young age she learned how to read, write, and speak in Hindi and perform Kathak Dance. She was on the debate team in high school and participated on policy debates at an international level. She also travelled to Europe to study European Relations with the US during the War and went through Mediation and Conflict Resolution training in the Hague. She studied in Spain for six months and learned to speak Spanish.

She joined Tufts University in 2002 to study for a BA degree in International Relations and Affairs which was completed in 2006. In her final years during her internship from June 2005 to August 2005 at the US House of Representatives, she interned with Congressman Gary Ackerman who was the co-chair of Indian Caucus and on the Committee for International Relations. Here she drafted legislation in the area of Indian American Community, Healthcare, and US India

Relations. She became a scholarship winner of Skoll World Forum and SOCAP.

In September 2005 for ten months she engaged in voluntary or freelance paid work with the TUFT University Institute of Global Leadership, Networking Indian Private Organisations, Alumni University for Tufts- Indian Alliance, Project Creation and Management for Microfinance Initiative in India.

210 | P a g e

Her career started in August 2006 as the Service Corporation Fellow at Woodrow

Wilson Centre for International Scholars, Washington DC working with the American Indian Foundation. Here she built the capacity of Indian non- government organisations (NGOs) and developed an understanding of India. She worked at grassroots level with NGOs to advance social and economic progress. She was promoted to Partner Program Manager with Ujjivan Financial Services where she implemented partnership programmes for Ujjivan in areas of healthcare, education, and skills building. She worked her way up as Partnership Relations Manager, building and enabling microfinance customers to gain access to services. This created a scalable model for the microfinance company’s social corporate responsibility programs and extended its mission to provide financial services to urban poor women. She developed partnerships with Trusts, NGOs and Government to provide women with education and healthcare. She developed healthcare insurance products through market research, starting first with prenatal and postnatal care, health camps and awareness campaigns for the urban poor.

Between August 2007 and March 2009 as a Director of Swayam Krishi Sangam

Foundation and Director of US Operations for SKS Foundation, she created strong fundraising and strategic partnerships with India NGOs for programming and project implementation. She created donor partnerships with various organisations like Swiss Development Cooperation, World bank/Ford Foundation and the CGAP to create a presence in the US and India.

211 | P a g e

Ajaita’s Vision and Implementation

Her exposure to various cultures gave her a more holistic view, which made her a global citizen, therefore allowing her to embrace values at different levels of her life. Her strong roots taught her to be Hindu at heart and accept pluralism. Having the best of both the cultures and Hindu roots imbibed in her, she was able to expand her work in various rural parts of India. Through her education path and internship, she had the chance to meet Indian counterparts which helped her to understand that rural India is the space that needs to be addressed; but it was not simple. In her words “I realised that if I wanted to be a global citizen or a change maker, I would need to embrace my understanding of culture and history”.

As an American India Foundation Fellow in 2006, at the age of 22, she packed her bags and went to India through Microfinance to work in seven different states. She worked in numerous development projects for five years, visiting over 25,000 villages. In the process, she learnt that millions of people were living in darkness relying on kerosene to light their homes and breathing in toxic fumes when cooking their meals. Living and learning about the realities and the plight of rural women made her determined to give women the opportunity, to give them the access, and to help them fight the societal norms.

Ajaita identified the problem as one of distribution. Getting these green energy products to the end users was hindered by a lack of localised delivery and lack of infrastructure, lack of education and lack of trust in the technology itself. Having uncovered these shortcomings, in 2009 she founded her own distribution

212 | P a g e

ॐ company, Frontier Markets. It was initially in Andhra Pradesh which proved to be a false start; eventually, in 2010, she reinvented the business and moved it to Rajasthan, a state with more sunlight and poverty which was perfect for her solar power business.

At the same time, she went back to New York agreeing to marriage with a member of her Jain community and started the next chapter of her life as a married woman; her marriage unfortunately ended in 2013. The business started to grow, Frontier Markets which focused on delivering clean energy to hard to reach communities in rural India, was succeeding in spreading crucial knowledge and changing the mindset of the population; it gave them the opportunity to gain ownership of their power. This social change came as a result of efficient last mile distribution solutions and fostering local female empowerment - the company’s employees are mostly women who are named “Solar Sahelis” (Solar Friends). Frontier Markets gives women who are socially and financially oppressed, the opportunity to become empowered and live independently. They are also encouraged to take self-esteem development classes and are given the chance to educate themselves, their children, and their local community about solar energy. Frontier Markets has helped to create 5000 micro-entrepreneurs in the process and helped over 500,000 homes access clean energy.

Frontier Markets trains and empowers women to sell and service solar power solutions, it enables mobility and provides finance support and other appliances to rural communities. The mission is to create ‘saral jivan’ or ‘easy life’ for rural customers who do not have affordable electricity, by providing them with access

213 | P a g e

ॐ to quality solar, water, health, home appliance solutions through their network of digitised rural women businesses.

Honours and Awards

• SOCAP Scholar • 2012 Echoing Green Fellow • 2018 Women Transforming India Award by the United Nations and NITI (National Institute for Transforming India) Aayog. • Awarded for Excellence in Environment.

Microfinance: financial services such as savings accounts, insurance funds and credit provided to poor and low-income clients so as to help them increase their income, thereby improving their standard of living.

Vimla Deolia Rukmini Shakha | Hounslow

214 | P a g e

ॐ Dr. Sheetal Amte

Indian Specialist

She is an Indian public health expert, disability specialist and social entrepreneur. She is Chief Executive Officer and board member of a non-profit organisation, Maharogi Sewa Samiti, which focuses on helping people disadvantaged by leprosy. Recently I came across an article on parenting. I was very impressed by the author’s strategy, to get all the family members involved, to get rid of her son’s digital screen addiction. The author was Dr. Sheetal Amte. My first impression of her was “an ideal parent”. I started reading more about Dr. Sheetal Amte. I am mesmerised by her professional life and contribution towards society.

215 | P a g e

Personal Life

Sheetal is a granddaughter of Late . Baba Amte was a social worker and social activist, known for his work for rehabilitation and empowerment of people suffering from leprosy. Sheetal is married to Gautam Karajgi and has a 6- year-old son - Sharvil. They are based at Anandwan village in Chandrapur district of Maharashtra.

Sheetal has written various blog posts about her experiences and experiments in parenting. There is a lot to learn from her. Sheetal has devoted her life to Anandwan and to the society in general. In her own words, Sheetal wants her life full of purpose, not affluence; contentment, not greed; compassion, not just passion; peace, not pace.

Taking her Legacy to the Next Level

Baba Amte founded “Anandwan” for rehabilitation of leprosy patients and disabled people. Sheetal has started an ambitious project to convert Anandwan into a smart village.

Sheetal’s educational background is diverse - MBBS with gold medal in surgery, Master’s in Social Entrepreneurship, Diploma in Financial Management and Doctor of Science. She is using these skills to strengthen pillars of rural system, Health, Environment, Education and Sustainable village development.

216 | P a g e

Sheetal has founded “Nijbal” centre which offers one stop services for people with disabilities, from prevention of disability, to vocational training, employment support, counselling, and rehabilitation services.

Contribution towards Environment

Sheetal has created a model of dense plantation of native trees, adopted for Indian conditions. It is based on the “Miyawaki method of afforestation”. The Government of Maharashtra accepted this model and named the model for her contribution as “Anandwan Dense Forest Model”.

Public Health Related Work

• Sheetal is an adviser to Express Public Health Awards and a member of Jury of Express Healthcare Awards. • Sheetal serves on the advisory board of India’s leading public health institute- Indian Institute of Public Health, Delhi. • Sheetal is also a member of various policy level education, agricultural, entrepreneurship development and healthcare innovation committees. These include governmental and non-governmental apex committees such as WHO and Lancet Commission on Global Surgery on rural surgical health and leadership, distance education committees of Mumbai University and an empowered committee for mid-day meals set up by the Government of India.

217 | P a g e

Additional contribution

● Sheetal founded ‘Mashaal’ and ‘Chirag’, two exclusive leadership training programs for motivating medical professionals across India.

● She has also started ‘Yuvagram’, a project to empower unemployed youth in India through gainful employment.

● She is one of the founding members of IdeaGist Blockchain Incubator. The incubator is run on the world's largest virtual incubation platform for solutioning real-world problems using blockchain technology.

● She works as an Academy Member and Jury of 1 million USD ‘Global Teacher Prize’ that is given to teachers across the world for excellence in their profession.

● She is a member of Young Leaders’ Council of All India Institute of Management (AIMA).


Sheetal’s educational and professional achievements are outstanding. She has been awarded by the World Economic Forum as “Young Global Leader 2016”. She has received many awards - Woman Achiever Award 2019 (Public Health), Durga Award 2018, Rotary Vocational Excellence Award 2017, INK fellowship 2016 and Kasturba Award 2006.

218 | P a g e

With all these professional achievements, Sheetal pursues her hobbies as well.

• She is an accomplished photographer with a few international publications and helps NGOs document their work through photographs. She is a winner of Lancet Highlights Photography Competition, 2016. • She is an abstract painter and teaches painting to differently abled children.

I would like to conclude with Sheetal’s words of advice for us - “To do effective social work, one needs to be compassionate, observant and cooperative. One needs to be able to confront challenges at the grass-root level--such as power cuts, housing, food and water shortages, internet issues, hygiene issues etc. One needs to be able to delay gratification and focus more on sustainability of work.”

Aditi Agarkar Durga Shakha | Reading

219 | P a g e

Vandaniya Mausiji

25th October 1936… the day of Vijayadashmi, was the turning point for the women of Bharat...Rashtra Sevika Samiti was founded! Those were the days when the women remained confined within the four walls of the home. Hence, it was a revolutionary idea that such a large number of ladies and girls should break the tradition bound chains and dedicate themselves to the Samiti work. Samiti turned into a training ground to mould the women into disciplined Sevikas.

Lakshmibai Kelkar, founder of Rashtra Sevika Samiti, an affectionate and warm person, became a role model for the Sevikas. All the Sevikas began calling her as 'Mausiji' who was like a mother to them. She became the most revered figure, due to her selfless service and devotion - thus Lakshmibai, was soon addressed Vandaniya Mausiji.

I will not be talking about the background of whom we fondly call Mausiji but instead share some inspirational stories that we especially Mahilas (ladies) can learn from.

220 | P a g e

Due to our pressure of work and household duties we often find ourselves not having time for ourselves or doing samiti work or samaaj work.

I hope that below stories from Mausiji’s life will inspire us to do more sewa/samaaj work.

I will not be talking about the background of whom we fondly call Mausiji but instead share some inspirational stories that we as Mahilas can learn from.

Due to our pressure of work and household duties we often find ourselves not having time for ourselves leave alone doing samiti work or samaj work.

I hope the below stories from Mausiji’s life will inspire us to do more sewa/samaj work.

Learning How to Ride a Bike

There are quite a few of us who probably did not have the opportunity to learn to ride a bike and some may have tried it several times but have failed. We would often give up saying “I wish I had the opportunity to learn when I was young”.

Do you know that Mausiji learnt how to ride a bike not as a child but as an adult? So, it is never too late for us to learn as well. She also learnt to swim quite late in her life.

There would be many such skills which we may not have learnt at a young age but remember it is never too late. By learning these new skills, we are also setting an example for our children that we should be ready to adapt any changes in the evolving world.

221 | P a g e

Visit to Pakistan ()

In 1947, when India was rejoiced being free from slavery, Hindus in Sindh were terrified with the communal riots and cruel attacks. Mausiji along with one sevika boarded the plane to Karachi. They were the only two females who dared to board the plane all by themselves without any protection but Mausiji was fearless. They safely reached Karachi.

She told the sevikas in Karachi, “Be patient and strong to defend your honour. Be united, as unity is strength.” She also said, “Be brave like Durga and no demon would dare to touch you.”

She treated all sevikas as members of her family and she always stood by them in any difficult times.

Geet composed for Mausiji

Mausiji was due to visit a shakha and the sevikas of the shakha composed a geet (song) in which one of the lines was “We are dedicated to Mausiji”. Mausiji with her modest personality suggested a slight change to the geet and asked for the line to be changed to “the dedication should not be to an individual but to the mission of Samiti.”

As Mahilas, we should work for Samaaj as and when we are able to, and our dedication is towards our work and not towards any person. We should not be affected by any person’s behaviour.

Overcoming Shyness

222 | P a g e

Mausiji had a shy personality when she was growing up. When she had to talk in public, she used to write out her script for someone else to read on her behalf. However, Mausiji realised that if she wanted her thoughts and ideas to be heard she would have to overcome her nervousness and be a good speaker. She mastered the skill of public speaking.

Majority of us mahilas are very shy when it comes to speaking in public. Let

Mausiji inspire us to learn the art of public speaking.

Idol of Ashtabhuja Devi

Mausiji introduced the worship of shakti in the form of Devi Ashtabhuja. Ashtabhuja Devi was depicted holding the Bhagwa Dhwaj with Trishul, Lotus, Bhagwad Gita, a bell (Ghanta), kund, Japmala and a blessing hand on the right. These represent purity of character, social awakening, knowledge, courage and awareness of universal motherhood.

We should make every effort to achieve the characteristics that are represented in the idol of Ashtabhuja Devi in a balanced way.

In this article, I showcased various inspiring moments from Mausiji life. We should be able to pick at least one of the above and implement it in our lives.


223 | P a g e

ॐ Dr. Swati Piramal

A scientist by academia Dr Swati A. Piramal is a contributor towards innovations in Public Health Services. She is the Vice Chairperson of Piramal Life Sciences Limited and Director of Piramal Healthcare Limited.

She was born into a Gujarati family in Mumbai, with both parents entrepreneurs with successful businesses she grew up understanding hard work and business. She earned her medical degree from Mumbai university with intent to be serving others in health care. She then married and has two grown up children who now are also married.

Her education and personal values have been her pillars for success. She has made positive changes for Indians through her services and she is recognised for her achievements by collaborative work with health organisations across the globe.

224 | P a g e

Dr Swati Piramal founded the Gopikrishna Piramal Hospital in Mumbai and campaigns against chronic disease, Osteoporosis, Malaria, Tuberculosis, Epilepsy and polio. She is also founder and Director of Savajal Foundation for Clean Water and her work aims to prosper those with bare necessities in life.

As Director of the Piramal Foundation, she promotes health in rural India through mobile health service that goes out to people who cannot themselves get to hospitals in the cities. Her care and understanding of people's needs is the core of her success and has driven her to many awards for her work. She continues to support women’s empowerment projects across India and with community education seeks to create young leaders with her work.

Currently serves on multiple Health Advisory Boards and is part of the Harvard School of Public Health and the Harvard Business School. She has received one of India’s highest civilian honour, the Padma Shri award, by the President of India, Ms. Pratibha Patil on 4th April 2012.

225 | P a g e

Her Values:

I. Doing good for society II. Extending helping hand III.Courtesy & humility IV.Her Business Philosophy: 1. Innovation as mantra of success 2. Ethical business V. Her Behavioural Orientation: 1. Hard working 2. Persistence VI.Enthusiasm VII. Self confidence

Rekha Behl Rukmani Shakha | Hounslow

226 | P a g e

ॐ Veermata Jijabai (Jijau)

An Inspiration for Hindus

We Hindus should be grateful to our historical Hindu mothers and women who not only helped us to save our great Sanatan Dharma but also showed us the path to raise children who are proud of Hindu Dharma which is the beginning and end of all paths of religion in the world for millions of years.

The wilful resistance against Mughals by Rani Lakshmi bai and Jija bai were the founding stones for the Hindu women who inspired and nurtured their children as lions for Hinduism and Vedic culture.

Jijau was born to Mhakasa bai and Lakhoji Jadhav in Sindkhad territory. As she grew up, she saw the pain in the eyes of her parents and Hindus under the Mughal rule.

227 | P a g e

At that age, when girls played with dolls, Jijau engaged herself in learning sword fighting.

Jijau was married to Shahji Raje Bhosle in 1605. She realised that even though her husband was powerful, he had no recognition and was not helpful to the Hindu community. Mughals were forcibly converting Hindu women. Jijau might be the only woman in the history of mankind who decided the purpose of her child even before he was born.

Jijau shared sorrows of assaults on her land, drawning of her Dharma (religion) temples, idols being broken by Muslim invaders. She had a vision of “Akhanda Hindu Swarajya “. Goddess Bhavani fulfilled Jijau’s appeal as she got blessed with a son, Shiva ji Raje. She raised Shivaji telling him the tales of Bhagwan Ram, Krishna and brave warriors like Bheem to fight with injustice. She also taught politics to her son prepared his mindset for justice, courage etc.

Jijau carried out both the roles of an affectionate mother as well as giving aptitude as a father in his absence. Her intelligence and foresightedness of not trusting anti-vedic people made Swarajya possible.

228 | P a g e

Thoughts of Jijabai

Jijau often discussed with her father Lakhoji Raje about Hindu unity.

She used to ask questions like.

“Why do we Hindu Marathas fight amongst ourselves when we are surrounded by foreigner invaders?''

Her prayer to Maa Bhavani was

“Bless our people and land. For the protection of our nation and Dharma, Bless me with a son like Shri Ram.”

Thanks to her teachings and invocation of a sense of pride and aggression in Shivaji that gave Hindus – their Saviour.

An ideal Hindu woman

Jijau played all the roles in her life such as daughter, sister, wife, daughter- in- law, sister- in-law, mother, mother-in-law, and grandmother. Entire Hindu community is grateful to Rajmata Jijau who set an example before us. She was the Pillar of Swarajya.

“May all Hindu women be inspired by Jijau to be an ideal woman!”

Jay Bhavani, Jai Shivaji.

Vaidehi Gogate Durga Shakha | Reading

229 | P a g e

ॐ Maa Sharda

Nari Ratna of Bharat

As with humans and animals, countries also have feminine (Nari-tatva) and masculine (Purush-tatva) nature. They are identified and distinguished according to their deep-rooted nature. In this world, Bharat is the country who has nature of Nari-tatva, which possesses extraordinary loveliness, humanity, receptiveness, sensitivity, creativity, austerity along with immense energy. In a nutshell, the soul of Bharat is Nari-tatva, Maa Bharti-which is immortal.

If there is any land on this earth that can lay claim to be the blessed Punya , to be the land which all souls on this earth must come to account for karma, it is Punyabhumi Bharat. It is our pride that Bharat has innumerous unique Nari ratnas. Punya Bhumi Bharat has always enriched the life of human being by their continuous contribution and creation of Vedas and for the upliftment of life of human being in the world. Our race does not forget the great inheritance of our forefathers िूर्जव ⴂ.

The Sanskriti raised in Bharat is Hindu Sanskriti. Hindu dharma is not only a religion, it is a way of life, based on love (Prem), humanity has attained its highest position towards greatness, towards generosity, purity, sensitivity towards the nature and human, समतप्रकृ तत and म नर् सम ज. There are innumerous

230 | P a g e

Nari Ratnas (Divya - atmas) from Maa sati, Lopamudra, Devi Ansyua, Arundhati, Sharmishtha, Vishpala , Gargi , Arundhati , Mata Sita, Kaikayee , Ahlya mata , Shabari mata, Mandodari, Taramati ( wife of Harish Chandra ), Savitri, Draupadi, Krushna Panama, Rani Padmavati and thousand daughters of Rajasthan, Jijamata, Ahlyabai Holkar, Rani Laxmibai to Durgabhabhi, Vandaniya Maushiji (Laxmi bai Kelkar-Adya Sansthapika Rastra Sevika Samiti), Vandniya Taiji (Sarswatitai Chati) who accelerated Samiti Karya and strengthen the base of Samiti and developed devoted Karyakarta, Pramila taiji , Sadhvi Rutumbhara ji, ,Uma Bharti, Shushma Swaraj, Shakuntaldevi (Manav Computer) and many more, who have tremendously contributed to the renaissance of Bharat as well as whole world since many centuries. Hindu nari ratnas have always served the hindudharma and vishwa samuday with their selfless seva and samarpan and the way they lived their life, which provides a great inspiration to all of us.

From the innumerous Nari Ratnas, one of the legendary Nari Ratna, Maa Sharda makes me curious to know more about her. After gathering detailed information about her, I found that in the 19th century when Society was trapped in a web of Kurivajo (bad tradition) and taboos, essence of Sanatan Hindu Dharma was hidden under the superficial so called rituals (Andhshradha, Karmakand, Kurivaj) and the condition of a woman was extremely pitiable in society. During this miserable situation, Maa Sharda lightened up the values of Sanatan Hindu Dharma to uplift the society and live the extraordinary life to reform the society from darkness to light. Her contribution towards the upliftment of Hindu Dharma is peerless forever.

231 | P a g e

Maa Sharda (Shardamani Mukharjee) wife of Param Pujaniya Paramhans was born on 22nd December 1853 in cultured Brahmin family of Shri Ramchandra & Shyamsundari Devi lived in Jayrambati, a Small village of Bengal.

म ाँ श रद was very calm and loving human being and possessed a unique combination of ज्ञ, न भक्तत, and कमनव सम्िूर् व आदश व सुभग समनर् य as described in her Jivan Charitra. She is a truly harmonious person, which is rare in the world. Her life was full of simplicity, holi (pavitrata), Iswarparaynata. We can get inspired from her simplicity, Pavitrata, Ishwar Bhakti, Patiparyan, सम्िूर् व sanyasini, karunashil, सिंत -न र् 配स쥍य म ाँ( Santan – Vatsala ).

“न क्त म तसृ म छ य न क्त म तछृ य गतत:

न क्त म तसृ म त्र न न क्त म तसृ म प्रि ।।”

232 | P a g e


There is no shade like a mother, no resort like a mother, no security like a mother and no water like mother.

Maa Sharda and Shree Ramakrishana Paramhans had an extraordinary relationship. She got married to him at the age of 5, which was customary of that time. It said that “it was shree Ramkrishna Paramhans who saw Maa Sharda as the “Divine Mother. He would say that she was his shield and armour.”

Shree Ramkrishna Paramhans gave her the highest respect. Maa Shardadevi joined shree ramkirshna, Dakshineswar of age 18 and became the first disciple of him. They both had an extraordinary relationship, which may have been uncommon for the average mediocre spouses.

Maa Shardadevi was a meditator and after Shree Ramkrishna Paramhans died, without any declaration, without any announcement, she naturally became the head (Margdarshika) of the order that Ramkrishna has created. The disciples of Shri Ramakrishana became disciples of Maa Sharda.

Maa Sharada was not an ordinary woman who was in love with a man. Ramkrishna was not a man for her; Ramakrishna was the divine aura Aatma who represented life to her, consciousness, and its highest flight. She lived like an ordinary woman but her spiritual devotion, Tyag, Bhakti makes her divine Divya

Aatma. During her life she went to “सम धि”a spiritual consciousness many times.

Maa Sharda inspired the whole samaj, because of her divine aura.

233 | P a g e

ितृ त: क्षम दमोडतयिं शोचसमतनद्द्र्यक्ननग्रह :।

िीपर्ि स配यमक्रोिो दशकिं िमवलक्षर्म।।

आर्वत :-

िमव के दस लक्षर् हᴂ -िेयव , क्षम, आ配म तनयिंत्रर्, चोरी न करन , िपर्त्रत,

इक्रिय सिंयम,बुद्द्र्दद, पर्द्द्र्य, स配य ओर क्रोि न करन ।।

When Vivekananda was leaving Bharat to spread the message of Dharma in America. He went to Maa Sharda to get her blessing (Aashirwad). Maa Sharda queries Vivekananda, “What are you going to do in America? Vivekanda replied “I will spread the message of “Dharma” in that country.” Maa Sharda, who was in her kitchen, directed young ऋपि to pass her knife meant for cutting vegetables.

Vivekananda handed the knife to her. Then Maa sharda said “You have my

आशीर् वद-Blessings''. But Vivekananda wanted to know if there was any connection between her asking for the knife and her blessings to him? Maa Sharda said “I wanted to know the way you handle the knife while passing it to me. Ordinarily, anyone would do it differently without awareness. He will hold the handle of the knife in his hand and pass it with the blade directed towards the one who asks for it. But Vivekananda had the blade of the knife in his hand and its handle was directed toward Maa Sharda. Maa Sharda said I bless you, Vivekananda, now, I think you are worthy of carrying the message of Dharma to the whole world because you have a religious mind.

234 | P a g e

This incident (prasang) shows her Divya-Drishti towards values of Hindu-Dharma. That is why DEVI- MAA has been respectable (Pujya) for us. She was devoted to MAA KAALI. Her Matrutva – Bhakti and way of Samarpan made her a great inspiration to “Hindu Samaj”. Her selfless sevabhav towards Hindu Samaja made her Vandaniya. Maa Sharda’s divine life teaches us fundamental values of Hindu Dharma, Dhyan (Meditation), Sayam (Tranquility), Samarpan (Devotion), Tyag (Sacrifice), Pavitrata (holiness), Karuna, Vatsalya to uplift the life of human being.

Bhairavi Bhatt Durga Shakha | Reading

235 | P a g e

ॐ Bhagini Nivedita

Bhagini Nivedita who gave her all to Bharat

Bhagini Nivedita is one of the most influential females in the history of Bharat. She was a great social worker, teacher, writer and a disciple of . She was an individual in which Swamiji had seen calibre to educate women in Bharat. She did great sewa work during the plague epidemic in Kolkata with Swamiji. She nursed and took care of patients as well as cleaning rubbish from the area and inspired many youths to do voluntary service. She wrote instructions for people about hygiene and translated that to local languages for common people to understand.

She started a girl’s school in Bagbazar area of Kolkata. She had lots of struggles while opening a school. She toured to Britain and America to raise funds. At that time people in Bharat were not ready to send their girls to school. She went personally to people’s homes to convince them to send their girls to school. She always supported local art and culture instead of Western. She had tremendous support from Shri Sarada Devi who was the wife of Shri Ramkrishna Paramhansa. Her school was inaugurated by Sri Sarada Devi. She supported all kinds of women in her school like widows and adult women. She taught them sewing, basic rules of hygiene, nursing etc along with regular courses. She met artists in Bharat and encouraged them to develop a pure Indian school of art.

236 | P a g e

She was not just involved in the school and sewa work but also vigorously associated with public life. She used to give speeches which inspires youth to take part in freedom fighting. She actively supported Swadeshi goods and boycotted British ones. She introduced singing of Vande Mataram as a prayer in her school.

Looking back in history, she was one of the personalities who served Bharat in all ways even though she was not born as Hindu. She was born in Ireland as Margaret Elizabeth Noble in 1867. Her father used to be a pastor who taught her that ‘Service to mankind is service to God’. She was a teacher at the age of 17 and afterwards she started her own school with the broad conception of education for girls.

Once she met Swamiji at her friend’s house where he gave a lecture on . Afterwards, she attended many sessions and got influenced by his message on Hinduism and spirituality. She decided to devote her life to work in Bharat when Swamiji appealed for it. This was an opportunity which she was seeking, and she got her life goal.

Later, she came to Bharat and then consecrated into Brahmacharya (life of celibacy). At this time Swamiji gave her new name Nivedita which means dedicated soul and she became Bhagini Nivedita. After coming to Bharat, she learned all about Hindu culture and used to follow it with pride.

237 | P a g e

Born as a non-Hindu and still dedicating the whole of her life to Hindus was not an easy journey for Bhagini Nivedita. This really inspires me how she faced all the challenges and still supported all Hindu communities wholeheartedly. She always wanted to support Hindu culture and promote it. After the death of Swamiji, she took all the responsibility of his work and worked towards it. She helped scientists in Bharat to write their books. Also, she sent some young men outside the country for education and after coming back helped them to set up their own businesses.

While doing her work selflessly, she became ‘Bhagini to all Bhartiyas’. While serving the needy in famine and flood-stricken parts of East Bengal, she got ill, and she was therefore severely weakened. Bhagini Nivedita died in Darjeeling on 13 October 1911 at the age of 44. The poet Rabindranath Tagore referred to her as ‘mother of the people’.


238 | P a g e

ॐ References

Image References:

Figure 1: Page 24

Video link on Madhubani painting –


Figure 2: Page 26 - Video link on Warli painting –


Figure 3: Page 29 - Video link on Gond painting

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ccNjLSeZBw | https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWJGn_Xy3Fs

Figure 4: Page 31 - Sarla Thakral with Gypsy Moth plane – Art by: Rishita Rallabandi (My daughter)

Figure 5-8 Page 121-123 - Google images

Figure 9: Page 124 - (Getty Images)

Figure 10: Page 147 - https://www.insidesport.co/geeta-phogat-wants-to-make- a-comeback-to-wrestling/

Figure 11: Page 165 - https://entrepreneur.wiki/Meena_Ganesh

239 | P a g e

Article References:

Page 45 - 50 - Hindu Sports Women:

The Indian express, Wikipedia, Times of India, Youtube, Wikipedia.

Page 57 - 63 - Sudha Murthy:

1. https://lifebeyondnumbers.com/tag/sudha-murthy/ 2. https://www.finnovationz.com/blog/sudha-murthy--an-idol-and-a- superstar-for-millions-and-trillions 3. https://metrosaga.com/sudha-murthy/ 4. https://www.karnataka.com/personalities/sudha-murty/ 5. https://www.cnbctv18.com/entrepreneurship/

Page 66 – 69 - Mrs Sudha Murthy

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sudha_Murty#cite_note-19

2. https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/women-should- believe-in-themselves-sudha-murthy/article2234665.ece

3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infosys_Foundation

4. https://www.vogue.in/magazine-story/why-sudha-murty-will-be-an- inspiration-to-generations-of-women-to-come/

5. https://www.scoopwhoop.com/narayana-murthy-and-sudha-murthy/

6. https://techstory.in/7-must-read-books-by-sudha-murty-that-will- rejuvenate-you-soul

240 | P a g e

Page 82-83 - Girija Devi

1. https://www.tribuneindia.com/2004/20040218/punjab1.htm#28 2. https://web.archive.org/web/20180406100917/https://www.thehindu.com /todays-paper/tp-features/tp-metroplus/Queen-of- thumri/article15393227.ece 3. https://www.asianage.com/entertainment/music/070518/appaji-was-more- than-a-mother-to-me-malini.html 4. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/thumri-queen-girija-devi-dies-at-88-in- kolkata-1766647 5. https://www.thecitizen.in/index.php/en/NewsDetail/index/9/12088/2- Students-Remember-Appaji-Girija-Devi

Pages 121-123 - Kalpana Chawla

1. https://blog.adafruit.com/wp- content/uploads/2017/05/Ichawla_kalpana.jpg 2. https://im.indiatimes.in/content/itimes/photo/2016/Mar/16/1458131165-a- childhood-picture-of-kalpana-chawla.jpg 3. http://www.indianetzone.com/photos_gallery/74/1_Kalpana_Chawla_in_C hildhood.jpg 4. https://i.pinimg.com/236x/18/8d/67/188d67f797c3950a4baab310de9ca2 b8.jpg 5. https://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/images/kalpana-chawla-1.jpg

241 | P a g e

Pages 168- 173 - Sophia Duleep Singh

1. Article written by Anita Anand & Wikipedia

Pages 197-199 – Deepika Kumari

1.Wikipedia page :https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deepika_Kumari

2. Ladies First – A documentary on Deepika’s life (on NETFLIX)

Pages 211 – 215 - Dr Sheetal Amte

1. http://www.sheetalamtekarajgi.com/ 2. https://sheroes.com/articles/meet-dr-sheetal-amte-baba-amtes- grand-daughter/MjAzNQ== 3. https://www.facebook.com/Dr.SheetalAmteKarajgi/

242 | P a g e