Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Tribute to a Forgotten Daughter.

Today(July 22) is the 41st death anniversary of Dr Muthulakshmi Reddy.

A distinguished , multifarious woman (Doctor,Freedom Fighter,Social reformer,Woman Activist and Orator) of her times, Dr Muthulakshmi Reddy was a pioneer of many social reforms in our country, who had several FIRST to her credit.Though the age old parochial mindset of the society prevented her from attending regular school, her father tutored her at home and thus she completed her matriculation.Impressed by her brilliance,the then Maharaja of Pudukkottai intervened and passed an order exempting her- And she became the FIRST woman to be admitted to a Mens College.Later she joined Madras Medical College and completed her course in 1912 with several distinctions to her credit to become the FIRST woman Medical Graduate of our country.Deeply enkindled by her sister's death due to Cancer, she made up her mind to look into the the dreadful disease and pursued research in Royal Cancer Hospital, UK.In addition, she received training in Gynaecology there.

After returning to India, while practising medicine, Dr Reddy launched numerous measures for liberating the down-trodden women and others who were confined within four walls.Heeding to the request from the members of Women's Indian Association, she gave up her lucrative practice for contesting in the Madras Legislative Council where she was elected unanimously and she became the FIRST woman Legislator of British India.Sooner she was elected as the Deputy Chairperson of the council and she became the FIRST woman in the world to become the Vice-President of a Legislature.Dr Reddy was the founder-president of the Women’s Indian Association (WIA) and became the FIRST alderwoman of the Madras Corporation.Perhaps, her election to the council can be referred to as a landmark in the social reform History of India.

Besides leading the agitation for Municipal and legislative franchise for women, she undertook free boarding and lodging for orphan girls and eventually established Avvai Home (1930) in Chennai. Even today, the Avvai Home provides vocational training, education and shelter to destitute girls and women.While serving as Legislator, Dr Reddy introduced a scheme of free education for girls upto Eighth Standard.Few years later, she pioneered steps to pass a Bill for the suppression of brothels and immoral trafficking in women and children .Simultaneously a separate home was opened to provide life to the children and women who were rescued form the brothels.Scholarships to Harijan girls was one of her laudable efforts.

Her initiative to pass a special resolution for the establishment of a separate hospital for women and children can be described as a relief for the plight of thousands of women who suffered without proper treatment and care.Moreover, Dr Reddy recommended a systematic medical inspection the students in all the schools and colleges run by municipalities as well as local bodies.

At the top of these achievements, she is known for her political activism in respect of social issues. First she rose in revolt against child marriage and the devadasi system. (Under this system, parents “married” off a daughter to a deity or a temple before she attained puberty. These girls became dancers and musicians and performed at temple festivals.)

In 1930, Muthulakshmi Reddy introduced in the Madras Legislative Council a Bill on the “prevention of the dedication of women to Hindu temples in the Presidency of Madras”. The Bill, which later became the Devadasi Abolition Act, declared the “pottukattu ceremony” in the precincts of Hindu temples or any other place of worship unlawful, gave legal sanction to devadasis to contract marriage, and prescribed a minimum punishment of five years’ imprisonment for those found guilty of aiding and abetting the devadasi system. The Bill had to wait for over 15 years to become an Act.

While progressive persons supported the abolition of the system, many conservative nationalists opposed it. While the then Tamil Nadu Congress Committee president C. Rajagopalachari, in the words of Muthulakshmi Reddy, “was not very much in favour of abolition of the pernicious practice”, another Congress veteran, S. Satyamurthy, argued that the devadasi system needed to be protected because it was essentially a part of the indigenous Hindu/national culture.

While addressing the Golden Jubilee Celebration of Madras Medical College in 1936, Dr Muthulakshmi Reddy expressed her desire to start a separate hospital specialising in Cancer treatment.With the support of many like minded people, she accomplished her dreams in 1954 ( A twelve bed hospital)Today,that twelve bed hospital has become a renowned institution (Adayar Cancer Centre) offering treatment to nearly 80000 cancer patients every year.

She started a journal Stri Dharma. In 1952, she was requested to join the Legislative Council by Rajaji, but she declined it as she was 67 already.She was the only woman in the Hartog Education commitee and her contribution and work for the Hartog commitee is a great achievement.

Dr Muthulakshmi Reddy was a fearless and confident woman who never feared any party or Government.She achieved success in all the tasks she undertook.Throughout her life, she was hovered with challenges and the biggest challenge she faced was during the introduction of the Bill for Abolishing Devadasi System.Dr Reddy lead her life based on ideals and she adhered to her principles,values and mission till the end of her life.Her predilections for social reforms kept her away from politics and she was awarded Padma Bhushan in 1956.

Dr Reddy is an institution builder who has given life to thousands of real down trodden women and children.The more I read about her, the more I get inspired.History texts may not sing peans in her name.But her gifts to the society remains as an eternal beacon in the form of Adayar Cancer centre and Avvai home.Beyond any doubt, I would say she deserves a better and prominent place in the History chapters.

(The 3 paragraphs in italic font are copied from 'Frontline' issue dated May. 24-Jun. 06, 2008.)

(Written on July 22, 2009)

Are Women Averse to Politics?

Nation without politics is incomplete,the reason being, politics decides the future of nation.Women by and large are either averse to politics or wish to remain apolitical.Until a few years ago,i had a notion that educated(academically) women are political or not politically averse.Nonetheless,after many observations and interactions,i realised:Women in general are apolitical.Even educated(academically) women occupying high position in their respective professional lives are politically ignorant.One might argue that women equals men in different ways.Yes,it could be true.But while psychobabbling on gender equality and reservation,why aren't we discussing the political awareness of women?Likewise,while addressing the empowerment,why do we fail to discuss the ground realities from where the real empowerment has to embark on?Even though the government lays much emphasis on educating a girl child by implementing various schemes,the education in the long run,haven't culminated in a more impressive female political participation and awareness.

Perhaps the established gender norms,religious cult and other cultural ideologies that were followed might have prevented the women coming out of their apolitical nature and those women who were politically aware were looked upon with disdain.Abeit,the contemporary situations are favourable for women.Yet,women prefers to remain either apolitical,politically ignorant or politicallly averse!Considering the status quo of women,it is desideratum to orient themselves politically in order to accomplish minimum political exposure.

The inherent dispassion towards politics and other contemporary issues happening in our society is one of the major reason as to why even in this globalised age women stays politically ignorant.The lame excuses of lack of time or unfavourable environment does not hold good here.We care to spend time for window shopping, choosing matching nail polish and other attires.Our dressing sense are high that we wish to be retain the tag of being fastidious!Regrettably,we are not choosy when the subject is politics or democracy.With utmost care and devotion we spend time on interiors and furnishings of an apartment,or we would try something that is labelled as latest by companies;but we don't bother to choose appropriate leaders who would represent us in the parliament or state assembly.Nor we wish to choose the government who shall be ruling us for a fixed period of time and who will be formulating policies that will have a major impact in our lives either directly or indirectly.Moreover women prefers to abstain from all political thoughts and talks.

Women remaining apolitical is not a good symptom.The women reservation bill(with many ill effects) which is going to be implemented is likely to create more chaos in our political system.When we proudly choir that we have a woman president,woman speaker and a woman leader who heads the congress parliamentary party,we forget that we are being awarded with mere concessions.With more than half of the women population remaining politically ignorant,the reservation of 33 percent is going to pose a serious threat.With their half baked knowledge on politics and policy formulation,women are going to occupy the parliamentary seats later.None of this reservation thoughts would have been tabled,had been the women are politically aware.Given proper political orientation,women in our country would have sensed the hidden agenda and other fishy aspects of exclusive reservation.Futhermore numerous feminine voices would have mustered to arrest the concessions showered on them.

It is high time that women in our country realise the importance of politics and must gear themselves politically.Before stepping towards reservation,each and every women in our society got to be politically skewed to prevent stymied outcome arising due to lack of political knowledge and wisdom.

(June 18, 2009)

A Letter to My Compatriots

India,the roots of rich culture,tradition and heritage is being crucified by the horrors of terror,blasts and wars.Six decades ago, OUR country men fought proudly against the autocracies to attain the freedom and democracy.American’s could find their Obama only yesterday.Today we are on an Obama hunt among Indians.But we forget the fact that each and every citizen of our country are the torchbearers of great patriots and leaders who met,fought and died for the betterment of this holy land,India.

Today,we are commuting in a ship named democracy!The faith of you,me and other sailors are lost due to the degeneracy and divisive politics of skimmers.But,is it possible to lose the faith in ourselves?We face waves of horror…Nonetheless,we have to confront and combat the crucification to continue the journey.Under theses circumstances,my country men should not succumb to the 4 letter called FEAR.Courage got to lead us all through the journey.Let us put a pause to the blame game under these critical circumstances.

Young minds are taught about Unity In Diversity at the primary classes.Perhaps,the best way to describe India!Feeling of patriotism is injected…Nearly one sixth of the world population belongs to our country.Possibly,this is our biggest strength!!Billions of people living across the country can conjointly withstand not only the terror..but can proudly face even the tremor too.

Indians will never fail!We will work UNITEDLY to bring back the glory of BHARATH!A day will come,Indians will speak with great pride that "We met & passed through each and every trials & tribulations unitedly"A day will come come...when the whole world will adore the efforts of Indians,A day will come,when the universe will bow in front of our holy land-Bharath because this a place where the seeds of Ahimsa&Truth were sown,this is the fertile land where the the Seeds of Ahimsa &truth grew..One day or other mankind is answerable to TRUTH.

Nothing can shake
The Pillar India
With an unwithered base
So are the faith of
Billions OF Indians

( Thursday, November 27, 2008)

My Response to Reporter's Article on 'Obambulating in Indian Politics'

Before reading this please go through Reporter's Diary

Reporter...Put forth Your question like this!
“Can the congress leaders think of nominating a person other than from Nehru dynasty for the post of prime minister?
Will the BJP led NDA can endorse an individual who does not belong to the Advani coterie?
Is it possible for the SP to nominate a person other than duo’s favourite?
Does Mayawati posess all the capabilities to become a PM?
Question towards Public
Are we ready to support an’ independent ‘individual’ if she or he has all the political,moral & intellectual credentials,to be the country’s head?
Suppose if a Dalit has all the above credentials….shall we endorse him/her for PM’s post?


The pre- independence era& early 50’s witnessed a boom of Obama’s(with respect to capability) in India’s socio-political environment.Sardar Patel,CR,Jagjivan Ram,.JP Narayan….all were great personalities!Particularly,CR initiated innumerable number of reforms for the upliftment of untouchables and encouraged their participation in national politics.JP Narayan’s contributions are also praiseworthy in this matter.Jagjivan Ram..served as a defence minister,deputy PM(twice) .Regrettable to say that..the media carried an unwanted ‘discriminative’ headlines on KR Narayanan’s death.You are also committing the same mistake by highlighting the ‘untouchable’ elementin your question(Even though you sound to be positive for their upbringing)I feel you should have refined the question in the first place.Our SC chief justice?Hence,you cannot be neck and crop in your question.

But yes,there are certain ‘elements’ inherent in our political system…that prevents an independent (intellectual with all inclusive qualities) from becoming a PM.


Indian politics is full of paradoxes!We jog on to brag..the world’s largest democracy”.Alas!till this moment,we are following Caste,Clan&Regional politics.

In the early twenties,Gandhi publicly acknowledged CR as his successor..and wrote a letter to CR
“You are…perhaps the nearest to me.My innermost being wants your approbation of what I’m doing and thinking. I cannot always succed in getting it,but it craves for your verdict…”
Nonetheless,in early forties,owing to the ‘regional’ pressure,Gandhi took a different stand.Hindi speaking population(vast majority) preferred a northie to occupy the PM’s place.Thus Pandit Nehru was chosen.Of course like his contemporary mates..Nehru also had his own charm,which pulled the public towards him.

Under the existing scenario,its very tough for an individual with all political, moral and intellectual credential to be the country head..the reason is” politrical barrier”
Consider the internal elections held in each and every political party in India.The coterie vested with highest powers hold the ‘absolute’ authority and their pampered darlings enjoy all sorts of patronage.The liegemen are not supposed to question the functioning of higher authoritie..even if they questions,they will be thrown out .For this matter,all the parties weigh equally.

Caste,Clan&Region remain as a bottleneck .Unless and until we wipe out the 3 barriers from our’thinking’..it is unlikely for us to weave a dream for ‘Indian Obama’(even though we have witnessed Obama Boom in the past)in the near future.Mankind comes first,followed by gender,region…If we succeed in applying the ‘theory of mankind’ and calibre..we will be blessed with the best Prime Minister.

Concluding my comments with a Passage from CR’s diary(which was wrote during his days behind the bars in 1921)

“We all ought to know that Swaraj will not at once or,I think even for a long time to come,be better government or graeter happiness for the people.Elections and their corruptions,injustice,and the power and tyranny of wealth and inefficiency of administration will make a hell of life as soon as freedom is given to us.Men will look regretfully back to the old regime of comparative justice,and efficient,peaceful,more or less honest administration.The only thing gained will be that as a race we will be saved from dishonour and subordination”

Rest In Next ;)

( Dated Monday, November 10, 2008)

My Personal History Published in Tehelka ( issue dated 16th Aug 2008)

My Personal History- Published in Tehelka(Issue dated 16th Aug 2008)
‘Talent and creativity were ruthlessly buried. Only rote learners survived’

I AM OVERTAKEN by repugnance whenever I think of my school days. The reason is quite simple. I was crippled mentally during high school. As I pen this essay, a couple of questions pop up. What is the purpose of education? Why are children always treated as students?

I was raised in a joint family, which included a grandfather and a paternal uncle. My mom, a homemaker, was a lady of high calibre and she nurtured the passions of her loved ones. Like any other mother, she too had dreams for her children, wanting them to be confident and fearless under any circumstance.

I was inclined to music, so my parents sent me to music classes when I was 10 years old. I was an average student, although I had a penchant for current affairs, quizzing and debates. My parents were content with my scores, which ranged between 65 and 70 percent. Little did they know that one day, their daughter would be demoted and devastated.

My turmoil began when I was in class seven. The school headmistress, who had exceptional teaching skills, heard of a fight that had broken out between me and another friend. She sought an explanation from our parents. After this, occasional taunts aimed at me became a regular feature of her classes. This made me an object of ridicule among my classmates. Day after day, my anxiety and fear grew, but I couldn’t reveal my feeling to others including my mom.

Illustration:Uzma Mohsin
In class nine, my anxiety grew further, because of Math and the Math teacher. She used to place the weaker students in one corner of the classroom so she could focus more attention on them. This created a negative impact on me. I started feeling targeted and cornered and felt that my independent thinking was suppressed. My inability to draw perfect maps or figures was used as a pointer while making scathing comments and this added fuel to the fire.

An extended hell! That is how I describe class nine. Did they ever make a single effort to point out my strengths? They denied me an opportunity to grow! At the end of the year, I was demoted. Later, I realised that 36 other students also suffered the same fate. The reason the school authorities gave was “filtration” before promotion to class 10. A few students joined other schools while others registered for a re-evaluation of their papers. I lacked the mental courage to fight. I repeated class nine, completed the 10th with 72 percent marks and thus my journey through the tunnel came to an end.

Today I ask — who were the losers when the library hours and physical training sessions were hijacked for extra classes and revisions? In the race for achieving high results, talent and creativity were ruthlessly buried. Only rote learners survived.

For my pre-degree years, I opted for commerce at the Government Victoria College in Palakkad. With just 72 percent, getting admission was difficult but I managed to snag the last available seat. This marked a rebirth for me. In college, I found that independent views were encouraged, I could actually explore life while learning. Each day, I found a new me within myself. The support I got from the teachers helped build my self esteem. In the second year, I joined the college cricket team and represented my college in matches. Resuming music lessons under the guidance of a renowned musician added to my happiness. In the first year, I had actually topped my class and was soon among the top five at the university. A student demoted in class nine occupying a place at the top! My teachers felt a little disappointed as I missed the overall top rank by a whisker. But for me, the results were a morale booster. It was a turning point for me.

I went on to do my masters, and was elected to the college union. Canvassing, meetings and elections were fantastic experiences. A timid, neglected school student elected to the college union!

Soon I was on stage, addressing the college, attending cabinet meetings, interacting with students and the principal, leading the college in inter-collegiate festivals, forming an association exclusively for girls to encourage them and ensure their participation in campus activities. The scared introvert in me had gone forever.

Failing a class in those days was — and is, even now — humiliating, primarily because teachers and the larger society make a child feel that way. It is seen as a scandal, a blot from which one can never recover. I left school with a heart filled with fear, depression and diffidence. My college faculty changed all that. To them, I was just one among the thousands of students they teach. They are my idols, because they changed my destiny forever.

( Friday, October 17, 2008)


A synthesis of imperfections!thats how I describe Indian education system.Business minded schools,imperfect teachers,obsolete method of teaching,syllabus failing to spurt analytical thinking and rote learning.Ironically,the ongoing furious debate on our education revolves around only one aspect that is the rote learning.All other fundamental factors are ignored while discussing the flaws of education system.Perhaps,the word 'education' itself is applied in a narrow sense..rather it is always used as synonymous to 'academics'.
Of all the fundamental factors ,Teacher assumes a greater role in building the future of a kid and I have always felt that ,teacher is the most appropriate person who can take a child to greater heights.A revered individual with an amalgamation of originality,distinctive ideas,ability to mend a child through the process of continuous interaction and mentoring.But how many number of parents can agree with the foresaid role of a teacher?Indian society jog on to live under a notion that teacher is a professional who sermonizes text book contents to the student mind!

Teacher – Foster Parent?

Accentuating the pivotal role of teachers as foster parents in school arises because, it is here, where the mental development of a child takes place.More deeper the teacher-student bond,,greater are the possibilities of miracles!Each and every student yearn for a Sosaku kobayashi(centre character in the book toto chan,who changed the lives of many students)in his or her teacher.

Paradoxically, subservient teachers(subservient to school management)takes a dictatorial role with students,and this has attributed to a wide gap in the teacher –student relation.Voice,needs and expectations of students thus goes unheard! Friendly gestures coupled with a bit of strictness and preaching is sufficient enough to mould a child particularly during the adolescent stage.Its obvious that the 'cane work' of a teacher at this juncture could prove disastrous.

Why students carry a 'prejudiced' view about teachers and teaching?What makes a teacher 'great'? why students are 'fond' of particular teachers?The answer lies within the classroom itself!Those teachers who mend the child to lead a good life are admired by the students,even though they lack teaching skills.A teacher who takes the child out of the 'locked world' is always remembered.Those teachers who can relate text book theories with real life and world are revered forever.A teacher who understands and develops the qualities of children is loved eternally!

Teaching Standards

The ability of a teacher to convince the students,their talent to deliver electrifying lectures thereby making the classes lively,their skills to motivate the children are considered secondary and often enough irrelevant for teaching purposes in our country.

When there are no proper yardstick(at present B ed is the only criterion),where there exists unethical practices in the appointment of teachers(Private schools demanding lump sum from prospective candidates)is it possible to find great teachers?.In government schools, no attempt is made to check the teaching skills.Furthermore absence of a proper system to evaluate the teaching standards and periodical performance of teachers in our country has resulted in an unsatisfactory educational environment.Even though our society considers teachers as a catalysts of change,there are no regular orientation course to elevate their teaching skills.The pathetic and poignant state with respect to the evaluation and orientation of teaching skills has reduced the quality of education .In the context of these cluttered background,how can we address teachers as 'catalysts of change'?

Only very few are passionate about this noble profession.Vast majority choose this profession in order to transfer the atrocities they were subjected to during their school days..For some others,failure to land up in a suitable job,directs them towards teaching.Teaching is not a lucrative job.Unlike other professions,the opportunity for growth is less..And yet,this is the noblest of all profession!

What Can Be Done?

Let us not forget that the teacher is the nucleus of education.Teaching must cut across all the barriers-there arises the need to redefine teaching and the role of a teacher.First step towards this is vesting limitless freedom or in other words,no lines of demarcation should be drawn for the purpose of carrying out teaching….so that teachers too can explore,learn and experiment.why can't they ignite themselves before nurturing young minds?The more they teach,the more they learn!Learning is a continuous process….it has no border.At the end of the day,after all these exploring,learning and experimenting,they can also grow,thereby we can make teaching profession more attractive.Besides these,we need teachers who can change the perception of teaching.

What the education system desperately needs is an efficient promising mentors,who are not addicted to monologue teaching or who does not impose brutal punishments in the name of discipline.Schools should build a core team of zealous mentors who can very well connect to the children.Every profession has undergone transformation over the last few decades.Unfortunately,teaching and related methodologies are yet to embrace the change.School is a place where a child grows mentally..there teachers takes the role of parents.Possibly,a redefined Teacher-Student relation and a new horizon to teaching can produce wonders not only in the student lives,but also in the society as a whole.

( Thursday, July 3, 2008)

Reading-Relics Of a Departed Era?

Victor Hugo once quoted " To learn to read is to light a fire;every syllable that is spelled out is a spark"-It has become need of the hour to ignite the mind of today's children and youth.This is because,there has been a gradual decline in the reading habit among children and youth since 1980.With the internet growing popular among teenagers,reading has lost its charm, has sunk in oblivion and thus it has become a dreams of the past.If viewed from a wider perspective,reading is the bridge that connects a child with the outside world.A fusion of enhanced knowledge,rational thinking,clarity of thought,convincing power and cultured mind are possible only through reading.

Books Enlighten;Knowledge Delights..this was the theme of this year's International Children's Book Day"(ICBD)Every Year ,on April 2nd(Hans Christian Andersen's Birthday)ICBD is celebrated with the purpose of inspiring the children to explore and read books.

In olden days,listening to stories was the first step towards reading.Children gets motivated by the stories of moral and ethical values. .Today,television and Computers have replaced the story telling sessions and books. Youngsters lament on time for serious reading..its ironical that the same people while away endless hours in front of television ,watching Award nights and Reality Shows. Spending incessant hours in front of computers which have become a part of modern life style is leading to the indifferent attitude of teenagers towards reading. Growing popularity of social networking culture has made the situation more pathetic!

The inevitability of newspaper in the development of an individual cannot be ignored because,it is through this medium a person is connected to the outside world.The columns,editorials,and other scholarly articles appearing in the dailies are propitious for students ranging from high school section to research scholars.With the advent of visual media there has been a drastic degeneration in the news paper reading habit particularly among youth.Print media can influence any age group in a more constructive manner than any other medium.Introduction of a separate accompaniment , with the objective of meliorating and promoting the young talent is a laudable effort taken by the print media.

Unfortunate to notice that,in most of the schools,library hours are hijacked by teachers for extra classes and revision..which means that accepting reading as an integral part of our academic education has a long way to go.By the time the child is in upper primary section,newspaper reading can be made as a part of classroom sessions.Similarly, discussions on a wide range of topics,based on newspaper supplement,would be a positive step towards amplifying a student's debating skills and logical thinking.Any creative attempt in making the children to read,write synopsis,passages,poems...can help the student in wiping out the mugging up habit completely.Having thus identified penchant of a student towards different subjects,classroom sessions becomes more lively and interesting.Conducive are the classroom discussions in the matter of group interaction and socialisation skills.

It is pertinent to note that,our grand parents were just matriculates or graduates.Today, a long list of qualifications supersede our surnames.Nonetheless their avid reading helped them in extemporizing on any topic with ease and perfection.Status of modern generation in this respect is very pitiable.Compiling a sentence without any error rarely happens among present day school and college going students.

"A home without books is a body without soul"
At home, parents squeeze the children for entrance coaching and related academics.Children should be taught about the necessity of reading at a very young age.Regrettable to say , it has become the need of the hour to illuminate the elders, with respect to the priceless power of reading.

Margaret Fuller remarked-"Today a reader,tomorrow a leader"..the communication and socialisation skills,the sense of self esteem and confidence attained through reading and discussions are imperative for a good leader.Analytical mind is nurtured through reading.like differentiating good from bad,right from wrong,truth from myth.By removing darkness,reading leads an individual to the path of knowledge,truth and wisdom.In conclusion,reading is ineludible for the overall development of an individual. Only a collated step from elders and print media can create a difference. Elders should lead the youth to the wonderful world of reading .The print media,which stood as a beacon during our pre independence era,got to inspire the youth.Simultaneously,the young blood must be given a platform to express themselves.Any conducive measure taken by them can reduce the calamitous situation and it will definitely rejuvenate the reading habit of children and youth.

( Saturday, April 12, 2008)