The hypothetical Indian society worships women as Goddesses on one hand, while on the other they suppress their women subjecting them to humiliation, insults and violence. In India Goddesses are not consorts of Gods, as you would normally find in other regions, but they possess immense power ruling the world of wealth, knowledge and power. Unfortunately though, women in India suffer from lack of education, financial independence and empowerment. There have been few women who rose beyond the boundaries set by society, carving a niche for themselves in arenas ruled by men. Indian history has seen women like Rani Padmini, Rani Lakshmi Bai, Razia Sultana, Kittur Rani Chennamma, Sarojini Naidu, Indira Gandhi and many more who have left an inedible mark on the progress of India. Today we see innumerable women breaking barriers and making a mark for themselves in the patriarchal society. The list of such women would be unending, but I am picking 6 females who are the face of modern India.
French by birth, today Simone Tata has become the face of modern India by transforming a small subsidiary branch of Tata Oil Mills into a leading cosmetic firm – Lakme. She is the wife of late Naval Jahangir Tata. Referred to as Cosmetic Czarina of India; she is one of the most impressive businesswomen India has seen. At present she is heading Trend Limited, another auxiliary of Tata group of companies. She is respected all over the world for her business acumen and leadership qualities.
Medha Patkar has shown other women, what can be accomplished if they have perseverance and determination on their side. One of very prominent social activist, Medha Patkar has taken up the cause of people who would be affected by the Sardar Sarovar dam being constructed on River Narmada. The pioneer of Narmada Bachao Aandolan, she has fought against the government through protest marches and hunger strikes; not being stopped by physical and verbal assaults from her oppressors.
The male dominated Indian Armed Services did not deter Punita Arora from achieving her dreams. She became the first Indian Woman to don the rank of Lieutant General of Indian Armed Forces and later went on to become the first woman Vice Admiral of Indian Navy. Known as a General in a Sari, she humbly says, “”I never felt that I am a woman and I’ve reached this position, so I’ve done something very great.” She is the winner of Vishisht Seva Medal, Sena Medal and Param Vishisht Seva medal.
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw has risen from a woman facing financial challenges to start her dream project, into being one of the richest women in India. The fairy tale story of her success began with her job as a trainee brewer at Carlton and United Beverages in Australia. After leaving her job, she faced innumerable challenges before starting her pet project Biocon in the garage of her rented house with a fund of just Rs.10000/- . Today her net worth is US$ 900 million as estimated in 2010. She has made it to the Forbes lists of World’s 100 most powerful women and also the Financial Times -Top 50 women in business.
The Magnificent Mary, as she is lovingly called, Mary Kom is an Olympic Bronze medalist in flyweight boxing category. Apart from the Olympic medal, Mary Kom has five World Boxing championships and also a record of being the only woman boxer to have won a medal in each one of the six world championships. What is amazing is that Mary Kom manages a demanding career in boxing while not ignoring her family of husband and two children. She is an inspiration to those women, who often given up their ambitions and careers once they get married and have children to care for. She has received Padma Bhushan, Padma Shri, Ajuna Award, Khel Ratna Award and named People of the year-Limca Book of Records 2007.
The first woman officer in IPS, Kiran Bedi has innumerable other achievements credited to her. After her voluntary retirement from IPS in 2007, Kiran Bedi took up social activities to bring about revolutionary changes in India by setting up Navjyoti India Foundation for welfare and preventive policing and India Vision Foundation for prison reformation. She is known for towing then PM Indira Gandhi’s car for parking violation. Besides a long list of medals and awards, Kiran Bedi was awarded a UN Medal for her work as the Civilian Police Advisor in United Nations peacekeeping operations.