Gone are the days when a woman would just sit at home rearing kids and doing household chores. With time the role of a woman is getting bigger in society, be it actively taking part in freedom fight, making India proud by doing extremely good in their respective fields such as sports, business, music or working for peace and charity.
Let’s take a look at some of the most inspiring and powerful women in India.
Rani Laksmi Bai
Rani Lakshmi Bai famously known as Rani of Jhansi is said to be one of the bravest leaders, who fought for India’s independence against the British Raj. She was the queen of the Maratha-ruled princely state of Jhansi, and one of the leading figures of the Indian Rebellion of 1857. Sir Hugh Rose, who was then British Army field-marshal, asserted that Rani of Jhansi was “the most dangerous of all Indian leaders”.
Mother Teresa, born as Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, was a Roman Catholic nun. She left her home at a tender age of 18 to join an Irish group of sisters namely Sisters of Loreto. Mother Teresa has founded the Missionaries of Charity, which at the time of her death had approximately 610 missions in 123 countries. Mother Teresa looked after the sick, poor, orphaned for almost 45 years. She was also awarded Nobel Peace prize in 1979.
Kalpana Chawla was not only the first Indian American astronaut, but she was also the first Indian ‘woman’ in space. Chawla, who died in the space shuttle ‘Columbia’ disaster, encouraged many young women back in India to follow her path and is said to be the idol of many young girls.
Pilavullakandi Thekkeparambil Usha, who is famously known as P.T Usha, is one of the most successful female athletes that India has ever produced. P.T Usha, who represented India in the 10th Asian Games held at Seoul in 1986, won 4 gold medals and 1 silver medal in the track and field events. She also became the first Indian women to reach the final of an Olympic event by winning her 400m hurdles semi-final.
The mother of two started competing in the boxing championship in the international level at the young age of 18. Mary Kom, who initially was shy about her interest in boxing, later became the first Indian woman boxer to have qualified for the 2012 Summer Olympics and winning the bronze medal. She is a five-time World Boxing champion, and the only woman boxer to have won a medal in each one of the six world championships.
Hailing from an average family in Amritsar, this young lady went ahead to become first Indian IPS officer, thus setting an example for other women to follow her footsteps. Bedi held the post of Director General at the Bureau of Police Research and Development before she voluntarily retired from the IPS in December 2007. She founded two NGO’s namely the Navjyoti Delhi Police Foundation for welfare and preventative policing in 1988 and the India Vision Foundation for prison reformation, drug abuse prevention and child welfare in 1994. Kiran Bedi has been awarded with the Ramon Magsaysay award in 1994 for Government service.
Bachendri Pal, who was born in a village in Garhwali, belonged to a family with moderate means. As a young girl she went on to become the first woman to graduate in her village. She created a benchmark by getting listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the first Indian women to summit the Mt. Everest. Bachendri Pal proved that a woman can excel in any field given she has willpower.
Indian American astronaut Sunita Williams born as Sunita Pandya Krishna to Indian parents in Massachusetts, has set a record for longest space flight by a woman. Apart from this, the 47-year-old also holds the record for number of spacewalks for a female. Sunita William became the first person of Indian descent, who was not an Indian citizen to receive the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Vishwa Pratibha Award by the World Gujarati Society.
The famous Indian American author Jhumpa Lahiri was born to Indian immigrants from the state of West Bengal. Lahiri, whose stories mostly deal with the problems in lives of Indian Immigrants, has won many awards, but it was her book ‘Interpreter Of Maladies’ for which she received the 2000 Pulitzer Prize. Her novel ‘The Namesake’ was named the New York Magazine Book of the Year.
Lata Mageshkar born to a classical singer and theatre actor, started acting in musical plays from the age of 5. Mangeshkar, who is famously known as the ‘Nightingale of India’ with time became one of the most renowned singers of India. She holds a record in the ‘Guinness Book of World Records’ for having made the most recordings in the world. She is the second vocalist to have ever been awarded the Bharat Ratna, which is India`s highest civilian honour.
Playback singer Asha Bhosle, who is singer Lata Mangeshkar’s sister, made her own name in the country by mesmerizing the people with her beautiful voice. She is well known for the versatility of her voice and has been honoured with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2000 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2008. Bhosle is also widely recognized for by the ‘Guinness Book of World Records’ as the most recorded artist in music history.
Indian American business executive Indra Nooyi, who was born in India, is the current Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of PepsiCo, which is the second largest food and beverage business in the world by net revenue. Indra Nooyi is on the No.4 position on the Forbes magazine`s annual survey of the 100 most powerful women in the world.