Skip to main content

Thank you wonder woman! A personal tribute on the International Women’s Day 2018

Father Prakash with Mother Teresa
Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
As 8 March approached once again, I was simply overwhelmed remembering the many women in my life! I stopped and wondered whether it was a mere ‘cosmetic’ exercise, a kind of ‘tokenism’ just because one was on the eve of yet another ‘international day’ ; or was there something more? And I said to myself “yes! there is more!”: celebrating the women who have been part of my life, thanking them for shaping me, for helping me to grow; asking their forgiveness for oftentimes my patriarchal, chauvinistic attitudes and for not having done enough to ensure greater equity and dignity for them; finally, to request them to continue to accompany me in this journey of life.
The first woman that comes to my heart and mind is naturally my own mother. She nurtured me in her womb for nine months, as all mothers do. She gave birth to me, cared for me, taught me the meaning and values of life, in a way only mothers can do. My mother was always a teacher; in fact an educator par excellence. Though she is no more, she will undoubtedly, always be part of my life.
Then there are my two sisters, both elder to me: they are the ones who held my hands when I learnt to walk; sat by my side when I tried to escape my studies; protected and reprimanded me, the times I was up to mischief; nevertheless have loved me and cared for me all these years.
My maternal grandmother (nana) and the two sisters of my mother (who were both religious nuns) were a world to me (one is still living –she is a Wonder Woman). Though miles separated us, I always looked forward to receiving their letters filled with plenty of advice and love; and of course writing to them! Summer holidays was something I eagerly look forward to- when I used to be thoroughly spoilt by a ‘doting’ grandmother; other grandaunts, aunts (including my favourite one!)and little cousin ‘sisters’ were of course ever present with their caring , challenging, cajoling, complaining and all.
We had some special women who were our neighbours - their faces and names come back to me. All of them with due respect were an ‘Aunty’ to me; it could not be otherwise. Wonderful women who also felt duty-bound ‘to complain’ to my mother that they saw me jumping on rooftops trying to catch a fallen kite or about some other prank! These good souls at the same time would most generously give me a share from the goodies they made.
Women have been my teachers in school, in University, in the Seminary. They were all great women (we have a school alumni ‘WhatsApp’ group and we often remember our extraordinary schoolteachers); some of my teachers were simply amazing. They gave of their best and made sure that we were educated in the complete sense of the word.
During my school and college days, I have had great women friends. Am still in touch with some of them. A few of them have done exceedingly well in life; some are grandmothers; and of course, all are in the ‘retirement’ or ‘semi-retirement’ – waiting for the ‘twilight years’. These friends have been so much part of my growth- just being there: warm, helpful, caring, thoughtful .We hardly see each other but the bonds have never been broken all these years.
Father Prakash with his aunt Dr Olinda Pareira
In my religious and professional life, many women have enriched me. The deeply spiritual ones; the simple, unassuming ones; the kind, generous ones. When I think of them at this moment, face after face like a film reels through my mind; so many of them. Some simply outstanding ones, human rights defenders - who have taken courageous stands in the face of all odds; brave women who have stood up against the most powerful on behalf of the victims, vulnerable and poor. Women whose social activism and commitment to a cause, has made this world a better place. Women who have given and not counted the cost.
Over the years, I have been touched by several women who live in remote villages, in the filth and squalor of dehumanizing slums; by women who are refugees or have been forcibly displaced; by women who have been exploited and harassed, denigrated and excluded - just because they are women! Some of them struggle all the time to make both ends meet- with little or no choices in life. Many of them are women of strength, women of substance; their lives are full of hope, optimism and resilience. They are the anonymous women and unknowingly they have shaped my life too.
For a little over two years now, I have been engaged with the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) based in Beirut; we work in five countries of the MENA Region. Many of the refugees and the displaced we work with are women. The amazing dimension of our work is that a very large percentage of our staff both in the countries we work in and in the Regional office are women (hopefully tomorrow I will write another article about this). This stint in JRS has given me the unique opportunity of being in the midst of some wonderful women: their capacity to reach out, their sensitivity to others, their ability to work under pressure; their professionalism; their commitment to service. There is much I have learnt from them and I am still learning.
There have been and there are many other women in my life. I had not planned that these random thoughts would enter the realm of ‘categories’; they happened rather naturally! So obviously unintentionally, I would have left out several other ‘groups’. In my work, I have been helped and supported by many women. Today too, I am in touch and encounter wonderful women all the time!
I want to say a big THANKYOU to every woman in my life - those who have died, those who I am not in touch with, those who I have hurt, those who are far away, those who are close to me, and to every one of YOU ( hopefully this will reach some of you)!
THANKYOU for helping me grow towards becoming a better person, for your caring and sharing, for your struggles and suffering, for your sensitivity and sincerity, for your inspiration and guidance, for the joy, love, courage and peace you have given to me and to many others.
THANKYOU for all that you have meant and been to me!
THANKYOU for accompanying me in this journey of life!
THANKYOU for helping me touch the feminine face of God!
THANKYOU WONDER WOMAN!
---
*Indian human rights activist, currently with the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) MENA Region, Beirut

Comments

TRENDING

A tale of horror and fraud: Profits in trillions of dollars for vaccine manufacturers?

By Aruna Rodrigues*  John Leake is a best-selling and “experienced non-fiction, true crime author”. Having just read what must be described as an extraordinary ‘telling’ of the Covid-19 saga, his book “The Courage to Face Covid-19: Preventing Hospitalization and Death While Battling the Bio-Pharmaceutical Complex”, co-authored with Peter A McCullough, MD, MPH, is the narration of true crime on a scale that could top the list in the history of ‘man’s inhumanity to man’. The book chronicles the unique role of national governments across the world and their health agencies, led by the USA and WHO, which followed an agenda that led to completely avoidable fatalities numbering several million. The question is why? The usual culprits are money and power. But to ascribe cause to these two is woefully insufficient. The sheer magnitude of the ‘dark agenda’ – coordinated and played out by governments, health agencies, the medical establishment (hospitals, doctors and chemists) and the massive a

You promised 50 lakh houses, give us one: Ahmedabad migrant women's plea to Modi

Women display letters containing rakhi for PM    By Hirabhai Solanki, Bhartiben Dantani, Ramesh Shrivastav*  Poor labouring families, including seasonal or long-term migrants of nearly 15 squatter settlements -- working as construction and casual workers and petty vendors, providing cheap but critically important labour for Ahmedabad city, living under plastic sheetings -- have reminded the Gujarat and Central Governments about the promise made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi of building 50 lakh dwellings, wherein every pavement dweller and homeless would be given a decent home by the end of 2022. Holding a meeting in Ahmedabad under the aegis of the Majur Adhikaar Manch, they also referred to the appeal of the Prime Minister to poor and labouring women, seeking his support as brother by sending rakhis to protect their humble basti dwellings and provide them with decent housing, which is secure for them and their families. So far, about 300 women have posted rakhis to the Prime Ministe

A countdown to disaster: Breach in fly-ash bunds of Nagpur's thermal power plants

Fly-ash dyke, Koradi thermal power plant  By Dhwani Shah, Deepmala Patel*  Last month the residents of several villages of Nagpur district woke up to the nightmare of being inundated with fly-ash. Located in the north of Nagpur city are Koradi and Khaparkheda thermal power stations which have their ash dykes in the vicinity. On July 10, 2022 at 3 am, the ash dyke of the Khaparkheda thermal power station broke, leading to ash contaminating the Kanhan river. Though the authorities claimed to have acted quickly and the fly ash dumping in the river was stopped, the claim stood to be misleading and false. Even today, the Kanhan river continues to be polluted with fly-ash, and the water supply to the city is affected. Not only did ash dyke of the Khaparkheda power station break, on July 16, 2022, the ash bund of the Koradi thermal power plant also broke. Fly-ash and water stored in the dyke gushed downstream to six villages -- drowning houses, water bodies and farmlands. With such large-

Golwalkar's views on tricolour, martyrs, minorities, caste as per RSS archives

By Shamsul Islam*  First time in the history of independent India, the in-charge minister of the Cultural Ministry in the current Modi government, Prahlad Singh Patel, has glorified MS Golwalkar, second supremo of the RSS and the most prominent ideologue of the RSS till date, on his birth anniversary, February 19. In a tweet he wrote : “Remembering a great thinker, scholar, and remarkable leader #MSGolwalkar on his birth anniversary. His thoughts will remain a source of inspiration & continue to guide generations.”

RSS, Sangh Parivar consider tricolour as "state flag" and not "national flag"

By Teesta Setalvad* Today, when the nation has been independent for 67 years, the Sangh Parivar is set to launch ‘Tiranga yatras’ and Satyagrahas to defend the honour of the flag and the nation. Yet when the Indian people were involved in the decades-long struggle for freedom against British imperialism, the RSS was conspicuous by its absence in the struggle. When thousands of people faced lathis, bullets and jail sentences for hoisting the tiranga and participated all over the country in satyagraha during the Civil Disobedience and Quit India movements against the British Raj, the Sangh publicly took the stand that it would not take part in the movement and seldom missed the opportunity of assuring the British rulers that they would keep to the right side of colonial law and avoid any clash with the authorities. Of course the reason given for this was that the Sangh was secretly strengthening itself and would take on British imperialism only when it was strong enough to do so! A simil

'Grossly inadequate': NREGA allocation 0.29% of GDP, World Bank recommended 1.6%

By Rajiv Shah  A civil society tracker, seeking to periodically analyse the implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), has said that NREGA budgetary allocation is only 0.29% of GDP and 1.85% of the total government expenditure of the financial year 2022-23, which is grossly inadequate. Thus, “As per estimates of researchers of the World Bank, for NREGA to run robustly, its allocation must at least be 1.6% of the GDP.” Prepared by the People’s Action for Employment Guarantee (PAEG), a group of activists, academics and members of people’s organizations, who came together to advocate for NREGA in 2004 in order to catalyse discussion and strengthen the top Government of India rural jobs guarantee scheme, the tracker states, the NREGA budget as percentage of the total government expenditure has also decreased -- it stands at 1.85% for FY 2022-23, just about half the level in FY 2020-21 (3.65%). The tracker, titled “Meagre Funds and Unlawfully Low Wages: How

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Since 2015 Govt of India didn't allocate single rupee to Gujarat for RTI training, awareness

By Pankti Jog*  The Department of Personnel and Training, Government of India (GoI) has allocated Rs 8.7 crore to Maharashtra for conducting Right to Information (RTI) training and awareness between 2015 to 2022. Of this, Rs 5.9 crore has gone to the Maharashtra State Training Institute, YASHADA, and Rs 3.01 crore have gone to the State Information Commission, Maharashtra. Gujarat, on the other hand, has not received even a single rupee over the last seven years for RTI programmes. Even Gujarat’s State Information Commission too has not not received any funds since 2005. RTI is one of the effective tools to bring transparency and accountability in the administration, thus improve governance. If citizens are aware, they would participate in a more meaningful manner in governance. They would effectively monitor planning and expenses of public programmes. Indeed, it is necessary that RTI is taken to every citizen, for which the government needs to conduct awareness drives and training

Anti-untouchability brass coin yatra to Delhi getting 'overwhelming' response: Macwan

By Our Representative  Gujarat’s top Dalit rights leader Martin Macwan, who is currently leading a week-long procession to Delhi carrying a 1,111 kg brass coin with the pointed question embossed on it, “Will the 1947 dream of untouchability free India be a reality in 2047?”, has reiterated that the removal of untouchability in India is Dalits’ primary concern, and not opposition to the new Parliament building. The march began in Ahmedabad on August 1 at 8:00 am amidst refusal of the Gujarat police a day earlier refusing to give the permission for the procession, which involves a small truck carrying the huge brass coin, another one with an Ambedkar statue, two trucks full of about 25 lakh one rupee coins donated by Dalits across India, and six buses with 300 Dalit activists. The brass coin has the image of BR Ambedkar on one side, and of Lord Buddha, on the other. Starting at the Dalit Shakti Kendra (DSK), founded by Macwan to provide technical-cum-empowerment training to the underpriv

Quit India stir: What archives say on Hindutva leaders 'colluding' with British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*  On the eve of 80th anniversary of the glorious Quit India Movement 1942 [QIM], we must evaluate the anti-national role of the Hindutva flag-bearers (who shamelessly claim to be the original nationalists) in India's anti-colonial freedom struggle. QIM also known as ‘August Kranti' (August Revolution) was a nation-wide Civil Disobedience Movement for which a call was given on August 7, 1942 by the Bombay session of the All-India Congress Committee. It was to begin on August 9 as per Gandhi's call to ‘Do or Die’ in his Quit India speech delivered in Mumbai at the Gowalia Tank Maidan (renamed as August Kranti Maidan) on August 8. Since then August 9 is celebrated as August Kranti Divas. The British swiftly responded with mass detentions on August 8th itself. The contemporary official documents confirm that over 100,000 arrests were made which included the total top leadership of Congress including Gandhi, mass fines were levied and demonstrators were subjecte