Sunday, October 31, 2010


Note for WoP readers: Arundhati Roy, the famed Indian writer, peace activist and Booker Prize winning author was recently voted #3 worldwide out of '30.

Arundhati Roy and India-born head of PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi have been named by Forbes among the world's 30 most inspiring women, a list that also features Mother Teresa, Oprah Winfrey and Hillary Clinton.

"Role models mean different things to different people--some of us look for guidance in business, some in our personal lives, some of us strive to make the world a better place each day, some admire trailblazers,"

Activist Roy ranks third in the list while Nooyi comes on 10. The '30 Utterly Inspiring Role Models' list has been compiled by ForbesWoman. [Continue reading]

[Right: Angelina Jolie, the winner of Academy Award, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and three Golden Globe Awards promotes humanitarian causes, and is noted for her work with refugees as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). She has been cited as one of the world's most attractive people, as well as the world's "most beautiful" woman, titles for which she has received substantial media attention..During recent floods in Pakistan Jolie donated almost


twice as much as president Asif Ali Zardari toward nationwide relief efforts in the affected areas].

The publication reached out to communities on Facebook and Twitter to determine the most motivating women in the world.

Media Mogul Oprah Winfrey, who was named the Most Powerful Celebrity by Forbes, leads the pack for the most inspirational role model.

"Winfrey's role model status extends beyond her professional career; her philanthropic work, including the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, is just as inspiring," Forbes said.

Others named in the list include actor Angelina Jolie, former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, First lady Michelle Obama and author J K Rowling.

[Left: J.K. Rowling, the adored British author of the Harry Potter series of books. Her rise to fame has a touch of magic to it, given that she composed much of her first work, Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone in poverty, often planning out her chapters in caf├ęs near her tiny apartment in Edinburgh, where she lived with her daughter, Jessica].

On Rowling, Forbes said, "As a single mother, Rowling took writing stories about a young wizard in a coffee shop and built one of the top-earning literary franchises ever, inspiring movies that have grossed more than $5 billion, spin-off books, theme parks and more".

Also on the list is Melinda Gates, who has "inspired many by her generosity and pledged more than $650 million to public schools through The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

[Melinda Gates, American philanthropist and wife of Bill Gates wants global leaders to make women’s and children’s health a top priority. While making this demand she announced that the Gates Foundation will invest $1.5 billion over the next five years to support maternal and child health, family planning, and nutrition programs in developing countries].

"Their personal histories, outlooks and missions may be different, but each role model sets an example of how to be the best women we possibly can be," the publication said.

It was perhaps these very models in the world of femina that persuaded our writer Swaraj Chauhan to suggest that women should lead the governments, particularly so in India and Pakistan so that the permanent state of hostilities generated and abetted by the men folk could turn into an era of peace by the tender slender, peace loving hands with proven sound minds of the world of femina. [Nayyar]

by Swaraj Chauhan

The last India-Pakistan peace talks held in July 2010 between India's foreign minister S M Krishna and his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi apparently though failed. Call it grandstanding, one-upmanship, whatever. But that has not dented the faith of common people across the border that they can succeed where their leaders have so diligently failed.

At times I just wonder why India and Pakistan can't live in peace. Why the relationship between the two countries is so fragile that any violent terrorist act brings the two countries on the threshold of war?

Will the relationship improve (or heal) if the leadership in politics in the two countries were to pass on to the women-folk? As a male of the species, I can cite several reasons why men-folk in India and Pakistan (especially the decision-makers -- both civilians and military dictators) have forfeited the right to govern.

The most important reason is that the big World leaders seem bereft of any heart/feelings or commonsense (their deafening silence greeted even the butchering of innocent children in the recent conflicts).

If you add all pervasive greed, myopia and maniacal egos, then a complete recipe for disaster seems ready.

I wonder whether top women leaders could be so heartless as their men counterparts.

Now back to India and Pakistan. These two countries provide a unique example that can be compared to a fight within a family. Let us check the background. They have a shared culture and a history dating back to centuries.

Muslims and Hindus in the huge subcontinent lived in peace under various rulers in the undivided India before 1947 (witnessing only rare spells of ruler-induced violence in the past).

It is like two brothers who went through a horrible fight to set up their own two independent homes. India and Pakistan did so in 1947 with the boundaries redrawn. But they forgot that if they continued their hatred/rivalry/greed/myopia even after splitting, the opportunistic outsiders would keep inciting them for their own greed/myopia/self-interest, and the situation could go out of hand.

I am writing this piece not just to please my wife and daughter!!! My random thoughts have been prompted by an Indian TV programme that showed Taliban men beating women with long sticks, probably on Pakistan/Afghanistan border. And an article in The Outlook magazine by Booker prize-winner celebrity author Arundhati Roy in which she exhorts the two countries to look inwards instead of blaming each other.

The Taliban TV clip reinforced my conviction that there is nothing wrong with religions, it is the interpretation by the leaders in different communities/countries and their traditions/character that generally leads to either violence or peaceful coexistence. The television generally shows us only the sensational/ugly scenes.

Why are we not shown Muslims in Indonesia, or south-east Asia, who have been performing with such elegance and beauty the Hindu epic of Ramayana (in dance/drama form) for centuries? Why there is no mention of Sufi shrines that dot the entire landscape of India and Pakistan where millions of Hindus and Muslims go for worship and blessings throughout the year?

During my year-long stay as a journalist in Saudi Arabia in the 1970s, I had a longish discussion with the Islamic clergy and academicians over the history of Islam. I was told that Islam has seen lots of ups and downs. During the glorious period of Islam women worked shoulder to shoulder with men and enjoyed equal rights. So nothing is static...things may change.

And how? Even within our lifetime we have seen the death of Communism as practised by Soviet Union. Capitalism, as practised by the United States of America, is on oxygen and gasping for breath. The orthodox Wahabi tradition of Islam that gripped the Arab world, and elsewhere, since the early part of the 20th century is showing signs of deep stress/upheaval and would have to undergo a change.

The male chauvinism which has been on the rise for a while now peaked during the past decade or so. The big leaders talked and acted like macho men bringing untold misery to men, women and children. Shockingly, there was not a single leader in Europe, Asia and elsewhere who told the macho members of their own species to put an end to such brutal and senseless policies/actions.

One can understand the limitations and the limited worldview of the US mainstream media, but what happened to the media elsewhere? Most of the reportage and commentary reflected as if the journalistic community was in awe of the war unleashed on terror. No questions were asked and no investigations done. It was just cheering from the sidelines.

So why cry now when the economies are collapsing and the lines of jobless people are increasing?

Macho behaviour thrills but ultimately kills. A female, even in the animal kingdom, is by and large a nurturer and a healer (of course, there are exceptions before you mention about Condy Rice!!!).

But where are the women leaders? Men have planned well to keep women firmly under them (metaphorically speaking). But they would have to rise and shine before the macho men manage to drive the human species into extinction.

Here is a brave Indian woman, a celebrity author, Arundhati Roy who has taken on the entire ruling coterie. She wrote in the aftermath of Mumbai terrorist attack: "Through the endless hours of analysis and the endless op-ed essays, in India at least there has been very little mention of the elephants in the room: Kashmir, Gujarat and the demolition of the Babri Masjid. Instead, we had retired diplomats and strategic experts debate the pros and cons of a war against Pakistan.

"Though one chapter of horror in Mumbai did end, another might have just begun. Day after day, a powerful, vociferous section of the Indian elite, goaded by marauding TV anchors who make Fox News look almost radical and left-wing, have taken to mindlessly attacking politicians, all politicians, glorifying the police and the army, and virtually asking for a police state.

"It isn't surprising that those who have grown plump on the pickings of democracy (such as it is) should now be calling for a police state. The era of 'pickings' is long gone. We're now in the era of Grabbing by Force, and democracy has a terrible habit of getting in the way."

"What we're experiencing now is blowback, the cumulative result of decades of quick fixes and dirty deeds. The carpet's squelching under our feet.

"The only way to contain (it would be naive to say end) terrorism is to look at the monster in the mirror. We're standing at a fork in the road. One sign says 'Justice', the other 'Civil War'. There's no third sign and there's no going back. Choose."

If you wish to read Arundhati Roy's full article please click here...

But we live in a world of short-cuts and the public memory is proverbially short. So who would have the patience to read Arundhati Roy's article in full. I just wonder.

And, then, she happens to be an outspoken woman in the male chauvinistic world!!! There are already attempts to shout her down...Salman Rushdie, surprisingly, being one among them!!!

Source: Ground Report

Photo Credits: Title Image: COTO Report 2nd Image on the right: Wikipedia

Image left: Chattahbox 3rd right: Newsdirt

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  1. Mr. Chauhan seems to have either forgotten or conveniently overlooked certain key facts.

    Indira Gandhi was the Indian prime minister who presided over the training of the Mukti Bahini by Indian security forces and the subsequent Indo-Pak war in 1971.

    Similarly, Benazir Bhutto was the prime minister of Pakistan, when anti-India militants were trained and armed by Pakistani intelligence services. The recent terrorist attack in the city of Mumbai was carried out by offshoots of those very militant organisations.

    We need competent leaders committed to the cause of peace, regardless of caste, creed or gender.

  2. Well Sidhusaaheb, You have a point. The views expressed by Swaraj Chauhan are indeed his exclusive ones, yet we put up this post to inform our readers about the need for a better India Pakistan relationship, an endeavor which we always have before us.
    As far as your views on Regina Feminine I agree. We have the example of the Iron Lady Margarete Thatcher and as you have mentioned too, right here in India Shrimati Indra Devi. Both ladies had an extra ordinary flavor for attacking other lands and they indeed did it.
    Some ladies might behave more aggressive than the men because they would want to give an impression that they are not just the tender sex but got iron muscles much stronger than their male counterparts. In this feminine frame of mind they might sometimes get more aggressive but again we cannot generalize.

    Otherwise the writer has a very pertinent point and that is: if both India and Pakistan go on fighting, a third party definitely might take advantage of this rivalry.



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