Saturday, March 8, 2014

International Women's Day - Inspiring Change

Written for:
the Write Tribe Festival of Words #3 Day 7 - IWD Inspiring Change
 USC’s Women Inspire Campaign

                      I'm taking part in the Write Tribe Festival of Words -3    Gratitude Campaign Badge   


"At the stroke of the midnight hour when the world slept, India awoke to life and freedom" (Adapted from the speech by Jawaharlal Nehru on the eve of India's Independence)

15th August 1947, the Indian flag flew for the first time and the people of India rejoiced.

The great leaders of the time, Gandhiji, Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Sarojini Naidu, Rabindranath Tagore, Jinnah, Maulana Azad are the names that will forever be etched in history.

But what of the ones who worked quietly behind the scenes, the silent and forgotten heroes, the forgotten freedom fighters? Without them India would not have awoken to life and freedom.

My grandmother was one of them. Read her biography here and here for more details.

But I will share the aspects of her life that inspired changes because she dared to dream, because she dared to fight, because she dared to be unafraid, because she had the utmost faith in God and because she had a great generosity of spirit and love for mankind.

At 5 feet tall, gentle and demure, respectful and soft spoken, graceful and loving, kind, compassionate and humble, pious and dharmic (one who follows the path of right action, speech and thought), she looked like a little wisp of a lady who lived a simple life according to the precepts of the Gita (holy book of the Hindus), but she was a formidable power, with a great strength of character and mind, a leader and the ultimate diplomat. She commanded respect wherever she went.

During the Quit India Movement, she took part in freedom marches and spoke at the several rallies held in Bombay. One of the marches that she took part in was the famous Salt Satyagraha Dandi march. In fact she led one of the marches from Bombay to Dandi.

Post Independence she was dragged into politics and became a member of the first Lok Sabha (House of Commons) of India. While in Parliament, she introduced the following bills:

  • Women's right to divorce
  • Anti Dowry bill
  • Indian Adoption of Children Bill
  • Suppression of immoral trafficking of Women 

And she strongly opposed the bill to punish unfaithful wives with her famous speech in Parliament "In a society where we have such evil customs as child marriages permitting a girl of ten or twelve to be married to a man of forty or fifty, old enough to be her grandfather, how can we expect her to be loyal? In a society where girls are at times sold as slaves by her own parents, how can they be expected to be faithful to their husbands?"  The bill was withdrawn.

After her term in Parliament was over, she did not contest again and instead dedicated her life to humanitarian services, to the upliftment of the poor and oppressed particularly women and children. For her, service to humanity was service to God. 

She was a founder member of the Bhagini Samaj an organisation dedicated to the welfare of women and children and started the Adivasi Welfare Centre in Udvada, Gujarat for women and children providing education and training. She introduced the adoption of villages a UNICEF approved programme and she was the first recipient of the prestigious Jamnalal Bajaj Award for her outstanding services to humanity. She donated her entire award to the the Adivasi Centre.

She was also a Justice of Peace.

But to me she was Dadima (Paternal grandmother), an inspirational, exceptional and beautiful human being who left her family a legacy rich in culture and heritage. Who taught us all, through her life, the meaning of love.

My late father and I were at her side when she breathed her last on the 28th of August 1985. Graceful and respectful even in death, she joined her hands together in Namaste to my dad and me, looked heavenward, and with the words "Hey Ram" (Oh God) she passed over peacefully and quietly to the other side. Be at peace Dadima.

I hope someday my destiny will also lead me in service to humanity.

Jayashri Raiji 26 October 1895 - 28 August 1985




pic 1: receiving her award from the then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi, 1980
pic 2: Dadima and me circa 1962


Be inspired, stay inspired, inspire change, be the change!


My posts so far: Day 1   Day 2    Day 3    Day 4    Day 5   Day 6


“I’m celebrating Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day by blogging for the #WomenInspire Campaign sponsored by USC’s masters degree in social work program. Join the blog carnival to honor a woman who has inspired you!”


Drop by my facebook page Suzy's Ilation and if any of your posts needs some tlc, leave a link there and I'll drop by and give it some love.



Warm Regards
Photobucket

38 comments:

  1. Happy Women's Day to you, Suzy! With the theme of 'inspiring change' I knew you just had to write about your Grandmother! What a fantastic example! Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Thanks Corinne and the same to you. Yes, she was such an amazing lady, no one can inspire me more than her.

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  2. What a great lady and she is a source of inspiration to each one of us even till this day! Happy Women's Day!

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    1. Thanks Aditi and the same to you. I'm glad we all can take inspiration from her.

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  3. Wow Suzy,your grand mother was a really great lady. Her life was an inspiration for all of us. Hat off to the great daughter of Mother India.

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    1. Thanks Usha. She left a legacy for all the women of India. But her name is lost in the archives. Ironically she would have wanted it that way!

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  4. Happy women's day to you Suzy. Your grandmother has left a great legacy and is an inspiration to all reading your post and all those who knew her.

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    1. Thanks Sulekha and the same to you. I'm so glad you found this inspirational. She was a great lady.

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  5. Ohh wow this is absolutely amazing. She's really a woman to look up to ... who in those times stood up for women and their rights. Thanks for sharing her story.

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    1. Thanks Rajlakshmi. It's my pleasure to share. She was a great lady with an indomitable spirit.

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  6. A big salute to your grandmother...a pure soul....I'm impressed by her contribution to the society at that point of time....thanks for sharing
    Happy women's day

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    1. Thanks Shellymona. Happy IWD to you too. She made a huge difference to the rights of Indian women. Something we take so much for granted today.

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  7. A wonderful day to pay a beautiful tribute to the great lady your grandma was. Thanks for sharing, Suzy, and a happy IWD.

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    1. Thanks Michelle. Happy IWD to you too. Glad you liked my tribute. It's my pleasure to share.

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  8. wow! did not know about your dadi.
    You sure are wearing shoes of metal as you tread upon this path cause I am confident you will also make a difference in this lifetime since she is there to inspire you every step of the way!

    jai ho to your grand mom and am glad to get some pixie's of inspiration from you to fwd it around.
    happy women' s day, suzie!

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    1. Thanks Ruchira. Yes, it's a tough act to follow. But I hope someday I can do at a little if not a lot.

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  9. Dear Suzy,
    thank you SO much for writing this beautiful herstory about your grandmother for the #womeninspire campaign. I am truly thankful for women like her who have fought around the globe to make the future brighter for women like us!

    My favorite takeaway: "because she dared to dream, because she dared to fight, because she dared to be unafraid...."Thank you for telling her story! I'll ensure it is added to the MSW@USC roundup!

    Best,
    Gaby
    MSW@USC Team

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    1. Thanks Gaby. I'm so glad that you liked my post and thrilled that it will be added to the roundup. Thanks you for visiting and leaving a comment. Greatly appreciated. :)

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  10. that surely was an inspiring story of a woman with golden heart.i am sure you too are.we need more heros like her to change our plight.wishing for change is what we all do.but such women are actually who work towards it.hats off.dxbnidblog

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    1. Thanks Pastiche. Yes we need to do more than just wish. Thanks for your kind words.

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  11. What a wonderful post Suzy. Really a formidable soul your grandmother was. I have read your previous post about her as well. Its amazing that at that age and era there was this woman with high morals and an emancipated mind and heart. Superb!

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    1. Thanks Kajal. They were a unique generation. I envy their life - probably harder than ours without so many conveniences but hugely satisfying.

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  12. A truly inspiring post! Thanks Suzy for sharing your grandmother's story with us.

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    1. Thanks Beloo. Glad you found it inspiring.

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  13. "In a society where we have such evil customs as child marriages permitting a girl of ten or twelve to be married to a man of forty or fifty, old enough to be her grandfather, how can we expect her to be loyal? In a society where girls are at times sold as slaves by her own parents, how can they be expected to be faithful to their husbands?" How true Suzy! and rightly the Bill was with drawn. Salutes to your Dadima Suzy. May her tribe increase.

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  14. Wow! That's such a befitting tribute to your grand mom, Suzy! You all must be sooo proud of her!! Happy IWD day to you :)

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    1. Thanks Shilpa. We are proud of her but more than that we have a great love for her.

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  15. Such an inspiring lady and a wonderful ode to your grandma Suzy! It's sad though that people like her never get talked about/taught about but the Nehrus and Gandhis get all the limelight.

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    1. Thanks Psych Babbler. True there are so many like her - all forgotten faces.

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  16. The life of your Dadi-Ma is truly an inspiration, Suzy. Sad she is an unsung heroine in a society where we bask in the glory of male leaders. The great lines says it all, "In a society where we have such evil customs as child marriages permitting a girl of ten or twelve to be married to a man of forty or fifty, old enough to be her grandfather, how can we expect her to be loyal? In a society where girls are at times sold as slaves by her own parents, how can they be expected to be faithful to their husbands?"

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    1. Thanks Vishal. Inspirational life and inspirational lady. That era is gone now!

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  17. Reading about your Grandmother made me realize two things...One that she truly was inspirational and second that somewhere I forgot how inspiring my Grandmother has been to me in her own way... Thanks for the share... And Happy belated Women's Day!

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    1. Thanks Naba. Glad my post reminded you of your grandmother. Share her stories too.

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  18. Really wonderful to learn about the great lady. True inspiration.
    May we have such brilliant ladies to lead and inspire...

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    1. Thanks Anita. Amen to your prayer.

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  19. What an amazing lady! I am so happy you decided to share her adventures here. She was truly someone to look up to.

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    1. Thanks Kathy. She was a wonderful lady and truly a great role model. I am blessed to have known her.

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