Psychonnect recently presented a thought-provoking panel discussion on ‘Mental well-being in the new normal’ on NewsX. The discussion revolved around dealing with mental health, building resilience in the new normal, overcoming insomnia, and how an organization like Psychonnect is leading the way towards maintaining one’s mental well-being in a post-pandemic world.
The discussion was joined by Diya Ganguly Mallick, Senior Academic and psychotherapist based in the UK, Co-founder of Psychonnect; Professor Michael Gradisar, Director of WINK sleep online which is a website dedicated to sleep education and Professor Amanda Kirby, CEO of ‘Do-it solutions’ and academic who holds expertise in neurodiversity.
In her introductory remarks, Diya Ganguly Mallick talks about the challenges that one has to deal with once the new normal will begin to be a lifestyle for people around the globe. ”The world might actually be a different place when we get out of this pandemic because this new normal that we are talking about has undergone a lot of changes and we have seen all types of changes emerging out of these times which might turn out to be both shocking and unpleasant. Once we go back to our respective colleges, schools, and workplaces, we will notice that a lot of social gatherings or even social interactions will have to be limited, daily activities s like boarding a train or a bus might feel strange and scary. initially, these changes will seem hard to accept and it will take some time to sink in,” said Diya.
Diya also talked about how radical acceptance and letting go of the bitterness shall help individuals in embracing this new normal. “I encourage everyone to be emotionally aware, understand their emotions while also respecting the range of other perspectives that you might come across. reflect on whatever you have learned during this lockdown. Please seek help early and the reason I am saying this is because every individual’s response is going to be different towards unexpected changes. feelings of anxiety, irritability, lack of appetite, and even sleep, these are all signs that you might need some extra support to cope up with certain challenges,” added Diya.
Taking the conversation ahead, Professor Michael talked about how every individual reacts differently to certain changes and how seeking help in the early stages can help one tackle anxiety and severe depression. Professor Michael said, ”I think a lot of people have realised that when it comes to sleep, especially when you sacrifice some of your sleep, you start to notice that you don’t feel the same way and probably one of the first things you notice when you go through a bad sleep considering the situation has been the same for a few nights in the row, you start to have less of an appetite. Studies have shown that when people are sleep-restricted, they are always in a bad mood and are unnecessarily intolerant towards having personal interactions.”
Talking about how early diagnosis of insomnia and the early treatment is important and might save one from depression, Professor Michael added, ”Insomnia is a grave issue, and one should never be negligent about it. To put it simply, it can be difficult in waking up or getting back to sleep. Another symptom of insomnia includes the feeling when you get up and don’t feel energised, now if something like this goes on for months, and perhaps a year, then you are at serious risk of developing depression. One of the very first symptoms of depression is insomnia and unlike depression, which is very difficult to treat, insomnia is comparatively easy in terms of treatment. While depression takes around 10-12 sessions of mental counselling, insomnia can be treated within half amount of the time. So if you are facing issues or differences in your sleeping pattern, take note of it and seek help as soon as you can’.
Addressing the reopening of schools for children and how they are going to cope up with the new normal, Professor Amanda Kirby talked about how the lockdown has been difficult for many families and especially for parents with children suffering from ADHD, Dyslexia, and Autism for whom learning is a patient process and is challenging. ”The key lesson is that most parents are not teachers, balancing work life and children is not easy, and for some people who don’t have the required capital or the resources and lack the computer skills because of poor literacy were not able to cope up well with the pandemic. So the primary thing is we were not ready for this and whether we will be ready or not is a question that still persists. For some families, it has been particularly challenging, the way their children attend, communicate and deal with learning is a very different process and is impossibly difficult. These children require constant care and patience and children of different age groups have different demands,” said Amanda. She further talked about how routine and structure should be encouraged in children so that they know what to expect and how to regulate their curriculum, develop healthy habits and balanced sleeping patterns.
Speaking about the smartphone obsession that is relevant among teenagers and the significant impact it has on their well-being, the panellists discussed how the content needs to be regulated and the screen-time needs to be reduced so that it doesn’t take a toll on a child’s mental health. The three panellists addressed certain queries from the audience and gave solutions on how to reach out to many organizations in India to seek help, help-line numbers for professional help, and how Psychonnect is paving a way and working towards addressing mental health issues.
Talking about health-care professionals, Professor Kirby said, ”There isn’t a hierarchy of suffering. In these really difficult times, we have catastrophized statements like – What happens next? So if you are not able to cope up, reach out for help. A lot of healthcare workers have been exposed to these difficult times, I would suggest that first, you need to also take care of yourself before you help others and also realize that being kind to yourself is an essential part of these times.
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Startup is all about scaling up: Supreme Incubator co-founder
New Delhi: Disha Singla, co-founder of Supreme Incubator, recently joined NewsX for an insightful conversation as part of its special series NewsX India A-list. In the exclusive interview, Disha spoke about the inception of Supreme Incubator, the functioning of a startup incubator, future of startups in India and how her organisation is paving the way for young entrepreneurs to lead a change.
Speaking about the inception of Supreme Incubators, Disha said, “A couple of years ago, I went to a business school in the USA to pursue my degree with a major in entrepreneurship. I spent a lot of time around startups there. In fact, my own startup was incubated by my university. I got connected with mentors and potential investors over there while working with other startups who were at the same initial stages. All of this inspired me to further pursue my passion. When I came back to India, I hosted some events here and received a great response. We started receiving applications from all over the country and connected those startups to potential investors and mentors and received a phenomenal feedback from them. It has been two years now since the inception of Supreme Incubator and it’s going great. We are focussing on Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities, we uplift the startups by connecting them with potential investors, experts, and specific mentors so that they can grow in a short period.”
Giving an insight into the functioning of an incubator, she said, “An incubator takes action towards creating an adept ecosystem by connecting them with experts and advisors. These mentors are expert in their domains and have led their own successful ventures. They are leading large corporations so they know how to run large organisations. We have mentors from different fields, some mentors are experts in business and technology while many of them are experts in artificial intelligence.”
Further emphasising how her organisation is different from others, Disha expressed, “We focus more on a personalised approach. Every startup which is accepted in our cohort gets personalised assistance and guidance as per their industry type. We provide industry-specific mentors to them so that they receive mentorship and guidance throughout their tenure which will help them to move in the right direction in the least possible time.”
When asked about her views on the start-up ecosystem in India and how it has changed and evolved over the years, she replied, “The startup ecosystem has definitely developed at a very fast pace over the last 10 years, especially over the past five years. When I was in high school, I used to keep up a lot with news-related to business. Earlier, when we used to hear the word ‘startup’, we had to understand what it is but now everyone seems to say that they want to get into the startup ecosystem. Startup is all about scaling up. There are a lot of challenges and the success ratio of startups are very low. Yet everyone is excited about this term ‘startup’. We have also seen a lot of companies coming in India with so many success stories. Everyone gets motivated to pursue the field that they are passionate about.”
On a concluding note, Disha shared her vision of the company and expressed that they are looking forward to work with startups that offer different niches and are determined towards uplifting and volunteering for a social cause. “At this point in time, as an incubator, we accept startup applications from different industries. In the coming years, we want to get into different niche segments and connect to those startups which are focussed on non-profit ventures and doing some social cause,” she stated.
Changing image from poor man’s timber to wise man’s timber
New Delhi: Yogesh Shinde, the founder of Bamboo India, recently joined NewsX for an exclusive chat as part of its special series NewsX India A-List. In an exclusive interview, Shinde talked at length about the necessity to reduce plastic which could be possible only by the advent of bamboo.
Bamboo India has been manufacturing locally grown bamboo which can be the most effective solution to reduce the usage of plastic. “To contribute something to India’s economy brought me back. In any time in the future, when the history will be written, I will be known as a contributor, not as a spectator,” exclaimed Shinde, who has been a part of the corporate culture but decided to walk on the path of social entrepreneurship owing to his growing concern over increasing pollution in India.
Tracing the journey of the inception of Bamboo India, he said, “The inception of Bamboo India occurred with the vision of ‘Brush, Collosion, Awake’. The motto behind the establishment of the company has been reduction of plastic with bamboo. India is the second largest bamboo growing country but is not contributing to the bamboo world market. We are not even in the top 10 list to import the products. On top of that, we are the world largest bamboo importer. That made me very scared and I thought that we must do something about it. Our target is simple, we want to reduce plastic waste from our mother earth.”
Interestingly, Bamboo India is also known to make innovative products, one of them being the bamboo toothbrush. Emphasising on the need to reduce plastic and shift from plastic toothbrushes to bamboo ones, Shinde stated, “Plastic toothbrushes are one of the leading pollution contents in the world. As every one of us have been talking about the increasing global warming, I, as an individual, thought of manufacturing bamboo toothbrushes in India. We are one of the first companies to have started manufacturing bamboo toothbrushes with locally grown bamboo.” He believes that the usage of sustainable products will be a long-term affair. Applauding those individuals for their effort in promoting the principles of sustainability on social media and playing an important role in the reduction of plastic, Shinde calls them ‘the real superheroes’.
Commenting on the journey of Bamboo India so far, he said, “To convert bamboo’s perception of poor man’s timber to wise man’s timber is what our journey is all about.”
When asked about the challenges of running a social entrepreneurship enterprise, Shinde said, “The first challenge is fundraising. As bamboo is not a traditional business in India, we faced difficulties in terms of financing. None of the companies offered us a loan as they did not understand the potential of bamboo and that is not the end of the world for us. We get funds from friends and family.”
Sharing his vision of the company, he said, “In the next five years, all our products will be available at local medical stores. Till the last four years, we have been a small startup. We have reduced 14 kg of plastic with our own initiative. Once the media starts showing interest in the venture, it will be a wildfire and more plastic would be reduced. Bamboo toothbrushes would be available in the supermarkets across India by end of this year and maybe the next year this product will be available all across the globe.”
HOW INDIA CAN BECOME A GLOBAL HUB FOR MANUFACTURING & RESILIENT SUPPLY CHAINS
For India to capture the global market, it must focus on boosting technologies and digitalisation, supporting labour, strengthening infrastructure and utilities, environmental laws, taxation and business reforms.
India has a golden shot to embark on global supply chains. Covid-19 has caused huge disruption across demand and supply. Corporations are relocating their geographic base from susceptible market origins to more credible and economical kernels. Precisely, companies are trying to diversify their production base from China to other stable countries. With strong macroeconomic fundamentals, demographic dividend, highly-skilled English-speaking workforce, ease of doing business, cheap labor costs, enormous resource accesses, and an expanding market of 1.3 billion people, India has an exclusive chance to be the favorable investment destination across the globe.
Southeast Asian countries including Vietnam, Indonesia are attracting many American and Japanese countries for diversification. Supply Chain Resilience Initiative (SCRI) as a trilateral approach by Japan to trade with India and Australia (with ASEAN probable to join) is an initiative to diversify the supply chains. With South Asia steadied for a growth liftoff, economic integration of South Asian countries becomes crucial. Substantially India is being seen as the hub for emerging supply chains.
To ameliorate US-China trade war fallouts, Apple Inc with a budgetary outlay of Rs 200 billion is set to shift its iPad manufacturing assembly to India. Elon Musk-led Tesla registered its subsidiary Tesla India Motors and Energy Private Ltd. Tesla also plans to set up an electric vehicle manufacturing division in Karnataka. On the heels of this statement, Starlink under SpaceX—the super-fast Internet venture—opened its pre-booking in India for $99. Amazon declared its Fire TV stick device manufacturing – its first production line in India via a subsidiary of its manufacturing partner Foxconn Technology Group. Swedish retailer IKEA having bought a 48,000-square-metre plot in Noida also proposed to launch its first shopping centre in India—being among the world’s largest sites.
Aatmanirbhar Bharat outlining economy, infrastructure, system, demography, and demand is an endeavor to become self-sufficient. Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme attempts to accelerate domestic production and invite foreign direct investments. India’s Look East policy encourages economic and strategic relations with Southeast Asian countries to strengthen its importance as a regional power. The Indo-Pacific region is home to the fastest and growing economies and military powers in the world.
While India rises to be a desirable preference for investors, the questions that need to be addressed are: “How competitive are India’s policies to attain a resilient supply chain?” “Are they enough to obtain a prime stance in the global economy?” It appears that Indian value chains are bedeviled with inefficiencies sinking it below international standards.
Logistics costs incurred in the Indian supply chain networks account for 14 percent of the GDP compared to the global average of 8 percent. This brings a competitive gap of $180 billion for India, likely to rise to $500 billion by 2030. India ranked 44 in the World Bank Logistics Performance Index lagging behind the US and China. India has a poor-quality infrastructure. Despite having the second-largest road network globally, national highways contribute less than 2.7 percent to the total network. Having one of the largest rail networks, the speed of the freight train is 24-25 kmph compared to 38-40 kmph in the US and China. The unbalanced logistics model mix of India further proliferates transportation costs. Despite broken transportation infrastructure facilities, India is heavily dependent on its road networks. It’s rail and sea-networks remain underutilised. These high costs act as a barrier to entry for greenfield manufacturing.
India still lags in technology adoption in its value chain processes. This heightens inventory costs due to mismanagement amounting to $120 billion to $180 billion of total logistic expenses. India lacks warehouse shortages. As of 2019, India had a cold storehouse facility of 226.7 lakh tons (lt), against the needed capacity of 350 lt. According to the Indian Council of Food and Agriculture, 30 percent of agricultural produce gets destroyed. India also suffers because of fragmented logistics and an uneven channel mix of domestic retail and FMCG sales.
India needs to make bold changes in its supply chain system to be the prime player. Integrating technology with physical networks is a prerequisite. Embracing geo-tagging, auto-capture, and big data will enable cooperation, forecasting, and traceability across chains. The omnichannel retail operation must be considered to streamline businesses. Building rationale infrastructure remains the crux of development. Logistics models must be benchmarked. Flexible networks will require optimising highways, delivery systems to lessen product loss. Shifting from an experience-based system to an analytical-based risk management system is imperative.
Government involvement is necessary to change the manufacturing landscape. India must welcome foreign investments—investors that bring capital, technology, and market with greenfield projects and private equity to finance the growing Indian start-up culture. Building on existing initiatives, India needs to boost exports to integrate with global supply chains. Indian states have high reservation percentages which clog growth. India must eliminate such structural bottlenecks to intensify its fraction in world trade. India should speed up its Free Trade Agreement (FTAs) authorisations with the UK and the EU. Promoting the ASEAN-India FTA may add the required fuel to trade flow. India should also focus on sensitive lists, non-tariff measures, and customs cooperation. Besides, re-skilling and upskilling measures are significant. Erecting a strong foundation of research and development (R&D) and entrepreneurship base is vital from a global standpoint. Key sectors of interventions must be tourism and hospitality, auto industry, retail & e-commerce, and food processing.
The pandemic is being viewed as a historic opportunity to evolve out better. Indian supply chains need to be smarter, prompt, agile and technically viable. As the realm steps towards the new normal world, it has generated an opportunity to re-invest uniquely—an investment aligned towards more sustainable companies. For India to capture the global market, it must focus upon boosting technologies and digitalisation, supporting labour, strengthening infrastructure and utilities, environmental laws, taxation and business reforms, investment and trade promotion. To catapult to economic prosperity, India not only needs to think bigger but also act better now.
Rajesh Mehta is a leading international consultant & columnist working on Market Entry, Innovation & Public Policy. Diksha Mittal is a public policy researcher working closely with Rajesh Mehta. Views expressed are personal.
FATEMA AGARKAR: SHAPING YOUNGSTERS WITH SPORTS AND EDUCATION
Fatema Agarkar talks to The Sunday Guardian about the Agarkar Centre of Excellence (ACE), an initiative she started with her husband Ajit Agarkar, and how career in sports has an investable future. Excerpts:
Q. What all did it take to convert the idea of amalgamating sports and education into the formation of ACE?
A. Given the expertise that we both have, i.e., Ajit Agarkar with sports and my journey with education, it just feels like a seamless journey. We are passionate about making sure that children benefit from being exposed to sports as opposed to how it was previously. For us, it was all about bringing expertise and experience together.
Q. What is your vision for driving the ACE initiative in 2021?
A. We want to ensure that we expose children to a lot more opportunities through sports that weren’t present in the physical world as the virtual world today has exposed children to so many opportunities. We at ACE are pro-blended learning. It is simply about optimising the virtual space.
Q. What would you like to say to the parents who think that devoting more time to sports means compromising on academics?
A. Think about sports as a career as these are the careers of today and tomorrow and if you do a comparative analysis, traditional careers are not lucrative anymore. You have to invest in it and the child has to be talented, he/she will have to have that skill and that’s why parents need to go to the right academy so the child gets mentored by the right people. Having said that, a career in sports has an investable future.
Q. What all key values do sports inculcate in children?
A. All of the life skills that we talk about in education—discipline, commitment, balance, decision-making, time-management, relationship-management, and teamwork. For me, sport is an education in itself!
Q. Do you believe that during these testing times it becomes even more important for children to engage in some form of physical activity to cope up with the stress of online classes?
A. Absolutely! There has to be a physical side to it, only because the current lifestyle is sedentary and children need to have that physical fitness, depending on their building, society, the neighbourhood but one can still focus on physical fitness at home, one doesn’t need to go to the gym to be exposed to that kind of fitness. One can simply manage on a yoga mat, it is very important and should become a part of their daily routine.
Q. Do you agree that the right coaching and mentorship from an early age along with proper sports infrastructure can give India more sportspersons?
A. Yes, we as a nation need to promote that and we need to invest in that, whether it is government or private bodies, I think it is important to consider sports as an integral part of children’s growing up years. We are from Mumbai, we work with smaller schools with limited infrastructure but we need to think beyond it, we need to plan simply because this is the future. Hence, it is important to invest in it and utilise that infrastructure.
Q. Would you like to comment on the reform measures required to further boost the Indian sports ecosystem?
A. The hope is that a lot more people and many stakeholders think about sports as an investment, build capabilities. The pandemic taught us one thing that we were not prepared to go virtual and I am just hoping that we are better prepared for the future if we are all in it together and consider investing in better sporting facilities and infrastructure. We build capabilities and currently, we are not there and it is not just schools, it’s the government. It is that vision that says our kids can play more and for that, we will have-to-have such facilities.
Covid gave people time to think seriously about settling down: MatchMe co-founder
Co-founder of matchmaking services MatchMe, Tania Malhotra Sondhi, talks of the USP and success of the company and how the Covid-19 lockdown changed the dynamics of relationships.
Q: MatchMe is a five-year-old premium personalised matchmaking service which is modern and has redefined the traditional culture of arranged marriages. Share with us the vision, success and USP of MatchMe.
A: MatchMe was created with sheer passion and interest in connecting like-minded people who can come together in marriage. The idea is to thoroughly assess mutual compatibility and play cupid for those individuals who are looking to find the right partner to settle down with. Alongside being extremely personalised, we are a completely offline service that maintains utmost transparency while upholding the client’s privacy at all times. This is what makes modern young individuals who deeply value their privacy trust MatchMe to help them find a partner of their choice.
Our USP is that my co-founder Mishi and I are personally involved with every single client to understand their backgrounds, personalities and personal interests, on the basis of which we curate matches for them. Our success lies in the fact that most of the matches we have made so far resulted from first introductions made by us, which is a testimony to our accuracy when it comes to matchmaking. This can also be attributed to the fact that we believe in making our clients meet only when it is worth their time and interest. Hence, our process focuses on selective introductions. We work with our clients as friends and make the girl/boy comfortable enough for them to share their interests and preferences with us, which they sometimes shy away from with their parents.
Q: What age category do you detail and match for? What socio-economic level do folks usually come from? Is it mostly parents or those looking to find their soulmates?
A: A majority of our clients fall under the age bracket of 27-34 years, but we have also catered to clients who are in the age bracket of 40-60 years. We cater mostly to the elite and affluent, those who are well-educated, well-placed financially, and have a progressive outlook.
Speaking of the ratio between parents and youngsters, I would say it is 50:50 so far. You would be surprised to know that an increasing number of youngsters who are extremely occupied with their careers, but don’t wish to settle just for the sake of it, turn to us to help them find the right match. So, basically, we understand their requirements and do some basic background checks for them, and then make the two meet only after we are personally satisfied with both parties and are convinced that they are right for each other.
Q: In today’s times, what are the criteria that a young woman or man is looking for, in an arranged marriage? And how has it evolved in the past few decades?
A: Most youngsters, both men and women, give first priority to mutual compatibility and shared interests. The families’ backgrounds and their respective financial statuses come into the picture only after these two boxes have been checked. Some noticeable and heartening changes include the fact that arranged marriages are no longer arbitrary in nature and are fixed only when the boy and girl are both genuinely invested. Another positive change is that couples take a few months to date and get to know each other and their families don’t rush them into getting engaged soon after meeting. Indian families are also getting increasingly open to inter-caste marriages, even in cases where the girl may be slightly older than the boy, which was a big no-no earlier.
Q: How has Covid changed the dynamics of marriages and relationships? What has been your success rate till date?
A: During the Covid-19 lockdown, we saw a lot of traction and had many youngsters approach us for finding them the right match. This could be attributed to two main reasons: the primary being the fact that life, in general, had slowed down and ‘work from home’ gave people enough time to think seriously about settling down. The second reason for this was the fact that there was a sense of loneliness that many young individuals felt while being confined in their homes, which led them to understand the importance of companionship and having a life partner. We have, in fact, made several virtual introductions during the lockdown, most of which have gone on to become successful relationships/marriages. Till date, we have brought over 100 couples together in marriage.
Q: What is the revenue stream in MatchMe?
A: We do a fee-based search. Our fee starts at Rs 2 lakh and goes upwards, a part of which is taken as a membership fee, as we need a commitment from the client, for the service we provide and the time and effort we invest in finding the right match for them. The remainder of the fee is charged only when we are successful in finding a suitable match and when a marriage is fixed.
AWAKENING THE ‘WARRIORS’ IN WOMEN
We, as women, need to question as to why we inherently believe that men are superior to women, and overcome the illusion to follow successful men and not successful women.
Indian history is replete with evidence that women have been great warriors, playing a vibrant role in protecting the integrity of the nation as well as strengthening their positions in society. Continuing with this tradition, women’s role has been exemplary in contemporary times in all spheres of life, including the armed forces, big enterprises, among others. In this context, an exploration of instances from our history helps us examine the conditions and challenges that women continue to confront in contemporary times. Such historical instances not only provide meaningful answers to a series of unanswered questions and concepts related to gender, but also help in self-introspection of our thoughts and actions.
HISTORICAL SAGA OF WOMEN
The Indian epic, Mahabharata, is often inferred as leading to a great war for conserving the honour of a woman, Draupadi. But what is often forgotten is the series of erroneous and dishonorable conducts by mankind that finally found an outlet through a war triggered by the ‘Chirharan’ of Draupadi.
One such story in the epic was of Sikhandi, who was a Kashi princess named Amba in her previous life, born as a daughter to Drupad, the King of Panchaal. As Amba, she along with her sisters was charioted away by Bheeshma from their ‘swayambar’ to Hastinapur to marry his younger brother instead. Amba expressed her desire to marry Salwa whose garland she carried in her hands. But to her resentment both Salwa and Bheeshma’s brother refused to marry her on the pretext of embracing the former in her heart and contaminated by the touch of Bheeshma. Thus, the dignity of the women was questioned on the grounds of conduct by the men.
Amba went from one court to another seeking a champion to defend her honour since as a woman she was not allowed to fight in those times. But no one dared to stand against Bheeshma. On being reborn, Amba as Shikhandi was determined to avenge the wrongdoing.
One might believe that women are not meant to be warriors and require a man to defend her honour. This is another barrier that must be broken through a historical revelation. No doubt our men dominated the wars, especially the Kurukshetra war which was an all-men war. But there were other wars where women warriors are mentioned as a dominant force such as the wars of Kartikeya who fought with the Asuras at Kurukshetra.
Additionally, history is evidence that women fought shoulder to shoulder with men as equal participants in the struggle against the British rule. The determination and courage of famous women revolutionaries like Rani Lakshmibai, Savitribai Phule and Begum Hazrat Mahal left a lasting impression for generations to come.
Begum Hazrat Mahal, the last begum of Awadh, was considered to be more courageous than her husband, Wajid Ali Shah. Instead of bowing down to the Britishers, she chose to live with self-respect, confidence and took the courage to rebel against the British East India Company during the 1857 rebellion, even though the Nawab was exiled to Kolkata after British took over the kingdom of Awadh in 1856.
Due to her war strategy and leadership, the Britishers were confined to the Lucknow presidency. Begum Hazrat Mahal, mother, queen and a symbol of resistance, had also set an example by strengthening unity among Hindus and Muslims against the Britishers and motivated women to become warriors and join the war. As a woman, she acted as a uniting force for the society.
Despite our rich history of brave women, the role of women in Indian society over time underwent distortions and came to be exhibited as a subject of vulnerability and a symbol of weakness.
WOMEN IN THE CONTEMPORARY WORLD
In the contemporary era, even though the status of women has changed substantially with many setting examples of valiance and efficiency; yet, they are being categorised as vulnerable and weak, the one who needs to be protected and cared for at all times. Knowing or unknowingly, this show of mercy and apathy has sown a seed of doubt, resulting in ‘conflicting’ minds, which often is passed on from one generation to the other. Such mindsets further strengthen the ‘glass ceiling’ effect, preventing women from advancing in the workplace or choosing a male dominated profession despite being well qualified and deserving.
The barrier does not end here. Nevertheless, there are a number of examples where women have broken the ‘glass ceiling’ and achieved name and fame, though the percentage of such women is still marginal. These women have set an example by converting the famous saying: ‘There is a woman behind every successful man’ in their favour, by becoming their own strength with or without the support of a man. But the question that arises here is: Have they encouraged, rather supported and uplifted other women with immense potential as them? Have they strengthened the concept of ‘She for She’ or does ‘She is jealous of She’ still holds greater gravity in our societal mindset?
In retrospect, we need to revisit the progressive thought process of women by tracing our rich history to change stereotypical societal mindset which arrests progress of women. The fact that history is a repository of many unanswered questions related to the major role that women play in Indian society can be seen in the recent excavation of ancient civilisation site in Sinauli (Uttar Pradesh) which revealed that women warriors were skilled in sword fighting, archery and chariot riding equitable to men. This has broken the myth and established that agility of the body, the sharpness of the eye, the sharpness of the mind, dexterity of the hand, quick thinking and intelligence, which are the major factors for winning a fight, whether physical or mental, or whether by a man or a woman. One needs to rebel against the boundaries that the society has prescribed for women and begin the journey of ‘Mahaprasthan’ the path of the great departure from the orthodox, stereotype illusions of societal mindsets.
We as women need to pledge to break these myths and barriers, awaken the warriors within us, question as to why we inherently believe that men are superior to women, overcome the illusion to follow successful men and not successful women and create a platform of thoughts and expressions where ‘He for She’ as well as ‘She for She’ prevails, thus understanding gender equality through both the perspectives.
The writer is Senior Researcher, Public Policy Research Centre, (PPRC), New Delhi.
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