Welcome to the Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where Anu, Ashok, Conrad, Delirious, gaelikaa, Grannymar, Ramana and I write on the same topic. Please do visit the linked blogs to get different views of the prism, colours of the same topic.
Today’s topic has been chosen by Grannymar, I think!!
Power is influence, power is authority, power is control and power can be a heady feeling. India has always had powerful women either in the forefront or quietly wielding influence behind the throne or the curtain of purdah, in homes and villages, in war fields and in kitchens. The 21st century is looked upon as the century of women. In this country too, many women are leading in different fields of governance, development, industry, finance, education and reforms.
India has a woman President. Yet the power behind the government of the day is Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson of UPA. She is often referred to as ‘High Command’. In a moment of epiphany, she captured the imagination of a nation to which she came as a bride. She refused office as Prime Minister but kept a tight rein over the coffers and control of the Congress Party—her inheritance from her in-laws. In times when the country is reeling with corruption, scams and calumny she maintains her sphinx-like silence and Teflon face. A woman acts as President of India–but Pratibha Patil is more a figure head, the stamping apparatus of the Congress party. Two other women, Jayalalithaa and Mayavathi, took over political parties and made it their own. Mamata Banerjee in Bengal has forged her own identity with her party, Trinamool Congress! All three are ruling the biggest states in India today.
Padma Bhushan Chanda Kochhar has for the past few years consistently figured in Fortune’s list of “Most Powerful Women in Business”. In 2009, she was ranked 20th in the Forbes “World’s 100 Most Powerful Women list”. In the past 27 years, she has climbed up from the lowly position of Management Trainee and smashed through glass ceilings to become Managing Director and CEO of ICICI Bank Limited. She has handled many assignments and headed all the major functions in the Bank. She has won so many awards that being named Outstanding Woman Business Leader of the Year in 2010 is just icing on the cake.
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, at 58 has single handedly carved a corporate identity. As Chairman and Managing Director of Biocon Ltd., India’s biggest biotechnology company, she is an icon of a self made entrepreneur. She began her foray into the new field of bio-technology first as a master brewer, an unusual choice of career. As a woman entrepreneur venturing into the world of enzymes, her start-up capital was Rs.10,000. She faced huge problems as Banks were hesitant to lend her money. Ironically by 2004, she became India’s richest woman and still maintains that position in spite of the ups and downs of the stock market. She has been honoured with 2 Padma awards, Padmashri (1989) and Padma Bhushan (2005).
The one name that is universally associated with Indian music is Lata Mangeshkar. No wonder she is the jewel, Bharat Ratna of the country. There are not enough adjectives in any of the Indian languages to describe her music—sublime, sensational, soulful, sensitive—the list is as long as the number of songs that she has sung. She is the modern Meera who devoted her life to her family and to her music. She has never forgotten her beginnings and the need of her siblings that made her enter the world of film music. At 86,when she sings “Ai mere vattan ke logon”, she still brings tears to every Indian eye and reminds them about the sacrifices of our armed forces.
Ramon Magsaysay Award winner, Dr V Shanta is 84 and can be the icon for ‘inclusiveness’, somebody who knits together various strands of society. The treatment in her Adyar Cancer Institute is free for 60 per cent of the patients. She lives, breathes and thinks only about her patients, their cancer treatment and welfare. She continues to publish papers, lectures and keeps up to date in medicine. For Dr Shanta, the hospital is her home and her temple, a place where she has spent all her life. She hopes to leave a legacy of service and a thriving institution that is famous all over the country for its humanitarian treatment of a deadly disease.
Medha Patkar can drive governments to their knees. She can reduce bureaucrats and politicians to abject frustration. The face of Indian social activism, Medha is identified with the Narmada Bachao Andolan. Raised by politically and socially active parents, her philosophical views have been shaped by them. Patkar had even planned to drown herself in the rising waters behind the Sardar Sarovar Dam. She has been fighting the battle of the displaced people for over two decades. A pioneer in the environmental movement, Medha has been involved with ecological degradation issues in Kerala and Pondicherry as well. She played a vital role in driving out the Tata Nano plant from Singur (West Bengal).