Tuesday, March 07, 2006

International Women's Day

March 8th is marked as International Women's Day (IWD) every year and marks the occasion of women all over the world coming together to look at a tradition that marks the struggle for equality, justice and development. Though I have not read many books on this topic but from what I know,this IWD is the story of ordinary women as makers of history and the idea of celebrating such a day first arose at the turn of the century, in which the expansion and booming population growth brought about radical changes in women's lives.

As I scribble this blog,many high sounding terms such as 'free market', 'globalisation', 'liberalisation' and 'new economic policy' come to my mind which echo in the newspaper and media of the day. Being the IT capital of India, Bangalore has a large influx of people all round the year. As a natural extension, newer homes are set up in the city and people look for domestic help in the form of cooks, housemaids, drivers etc. This has blossomed into a full-fledged business over the past few years. But one woman with whom I have interaction everyday morning is my house maid and I call her "Amma". To me she is the true symbol of the rise of Indian women. Everyday morning she cleans my house, washes my clothes, and hangs them on the washing line in the verandah, clipping them with plastic hooks so they do not fall when the weight of water has left. On weekends I prepare tea/coffee for myself (I know only to make these) and share the same with her and at times I discuss with her how things are moving in her life. Her husband works in restaurant and she says their only aim is to educate the two kids they have. At times she is worried as the kids don’t study and freak out with the other junta who live near their the chawl (slum). Her reasoning is sound which is if the kids study the bare minimal they can at least join factory or an office and not end up doing routine mundane tasks.

"Amma" works in four homes. All her employers (Raheja Residency) are working women who have given her a spare key to the house so that she can come any time and do all the work required. Since working employers are so rushed in the morning, they prefer not to have anyone come in the morning to clean the house. "Amma" is relieved she has no one sitting on her head and her employers are happy that they come to a clean house. "Amma" receives Rs 300-Rs 450 every month from each of her four employers, higher than the market rate as everyone trusts her.

Change tracks now....

While the news-stands are flooded with the likes of Business Maharajas and Business Guru speak, there has hitherto been no book exclusively featuring women entrepreneurs and business tycoons with a profound insight into their learnings and strategies. The Indian working woman, with her resilience and intellect, balances her family and career judiciously – especially when she leads a domain as challenging as business. (Source: Youth Curry). As a tribute to Indian women in business, there was a need for a long time to bring out their successes and challenges through a series of personalised stories. This job was done with great maturity by Debashish, an MBA student at, IIT Chennai and Nischinta who is pursuing her degree in Economics from Stella Maris College, Chennai. (Read more here)

The list of women interviewed in the book include Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Sulajja Firodia, Shahnaz Husain, Naina Lal Kidwai, Simone Tata, Priya Paul, Ritu Nanda, Ravina Raj Kohli, Ekta Kapoor, and Sharan Apparao all shining stars of the new age Indian women.

When the first American music videos and popular TV shows began appearing in Indian homes in the early 2000s thanks to satellite and cable, many pundits predicted Indian society would never be the same. For the first time, young Indian women saw a regular dose of sexy, scantily clad divas shimmying. Female viewers also saw independent, successful women -- think Ally McBeal -and fun, sensitive guys in Friends. Sex and divorce were openly discussed in these TV imports and couples kissed passionately, then still a taboo in Indian TV shows and movies.

Indeed, the impact on younger generations of Indian women has been profound. Whereas Indian women traditionally have been submissive to parents and husbands and valued frugality and modesty, a number of sociological studies show that young Indian females now prize financial independence, freedom to decide when to marry and have children, and glamorous careers

A generation back, women would sacrifice themselves and believed in saving. Today, it is spend, spend, and spend. It is O.K. for a woman to want something for herself, and people will accept it if she goes out into a man's world making a statement. Because today's young women are the key consumer group of tomorrow, these shifts have big implications for marketing companies. This is a phenomenon, which started in big cities/metros and with time is spreading to small towns and villages.

The success of "the new Indian woman" in sport is a story waiting to be told. And as much as the marketing men make it appear that the main character in this story is a fair-skinned, confident, 19-year-old daughter of a builder born in Mumbai and brought up in Hyderabad, and is now among the top 40 tennis players of the world. That’s the Sania Mirza chapter. Another one is something we know well, though not as well as the Sania Mirza coverage. It is the success of a 28-year-old champion brought up in a town named Kottayam in Kerala — who is currently world number four in her chosen sport (long jump), Anju Bobby

Amidst all these stories of success and celebration are some facts, which are scary to look at. Since I live in a city and meet people who are all doing good in life. There is an air of goodness everythere, but the entire India doesn’t reside in B’lore, Delhi, Pune or Mumbai. Still we Indians rank very high when it comes to rape, child molestation, dowry case death and a big list of horrifying wrong deeds. I don’t want to get into all those here, as this is a day of feel good for all Indian women.

I dedicate this blog to three honourable and respected women in my life. My maa, a simple person and who teaches kids even when her kids have all crossed the quarter century age barrier. Bhavna, my sister a thorough techie who shuffles office work, personal life and family life with panache. Finally it is also for Vidya, who is one in all kind of a lady, one of the smartest and fundu technical and people manager I have ever seen. Congrats Vidya on your second baby.

One lady who is multi-faceted and to whom I look upon and respect immensely is Sujatha.

Cheero to all of you and remain the special persons in my life as you have been till date. Hey it was not that I was reading a regular run of the mill thanks letter as they do on stage on Oscar’s day, I genuinely treasure these people and so mentioned it here.

Keep reading and remain connected.


At 12:18 AM, Blogger Sujatha said...

A thoughtful post Tanay. And thanks for mentioning a Sujatha, even tough it's probably not me!:)

At 10:54 AM, Blogger remainconnected said...


It was you and it was Sujatha of the http://blogpourri.blogspot.com/

Were you surprised,I think you shouldn't be as you deserve that.

Have a great day..


At 1:03 PM, Blogger Ferocious Killer Kat said...

nifty read..

hopefully in time we will not require concepts like feminism.. and there won't be any discrimination based on gender in this world..


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