New Delhi, Jan 25 (IANS) Amidst heads of state, a prime minister, cabinet minsters and foreign delegates, this year’s Republic Day parade at Rajpath on Tuesday will feature a special enclosure for some of India’s remarkable women achievers who have defeated all odds and made a change in the society.
Among these women are shooters, taekwondo and wrestling champions at the international level, Supreme Court advocates and those who have reached the heights of Mt. Everest despite being physically challenged.
Identified through a show titled ‘Ab Ke Baras Mohe Bitiya Hi Dijo’ which has been airing on News World India channel since the last Independence Day, these women’s stories have been supported by Maneka Gandhi, the union minister for women and child development and her ministry.
“Post the Nirbhaya (2012 Delhi gang rape) issue, there has been a lot of negativity towards women. A perception that women are weak and vulnerable exists in the society. These women’s life stories were aimed at fighting that view, and to highlight that there are many women who have achieved remarkable heights fighting many odds,” the show’s host, Meena Sharma, told IANS.
This year is perhaps the first time that women achievers have specifically been invited to Rajpath, she added.
The show has so far celebrated the stories of nearly 130 such women – airing one show everyday – and aims to overturn the views people may have about women that they are “weak and vulnerable”.
In the recent past, President Pranab Mukherjee had hosted a lunch in admiration of these women’s acts.
One such story is of Basanti Kumari, who was born without any arms, and always dreamt of being a teacher. Not losing out to her physical challenges, Basanti Kumari learnt to use her feet to her advantage and made her dream come true.
Today, she teaches children at a school near a village named Sindhri, close to Dhanbad and can be seen drawing on a blackboard or writing with absolute ease.
“People said ‘what a pity’ when they saw me, but today they respect me for what I made myself. My students, too, say they love spending time with me and take me as an inspiration. India must realise that when a physically challenged woman like me could study and support her family, why not allow the other girls too,” Basanti Kumari asked while speaking to IANS.
She hoped her story serves as an example for women to be allowed to study and make a living.
Richa Gaur is another such 22-year-old, who believes that it also takes a woman to know self-defence techniques to empower herself. She has so far teught her techniques to over 35,000 women in schools, universities and workplaces.
“People used to ridicule me for wanting to learn martial arts. They would say being a girl I wasn’t capable enough physically to fight a man. But I won awards nationally and internationally, and teach other women how to defend themselves when needed. What can be a more promising answer to those questions,” Gaur asked while speaking to IANS here.
Her dream of watching the R-Day parade live wouldn’t have come true if she listened to the society and became a teacher, she added.
(Bhavana Akella can be contacted at [email protected])