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Soldiers for Women

As a foreign woman living in India, I'm very much aware of  the negative publicity India has received with regard to the area of the position of women in society and the security of women in this country.  The truly horrible story of a young woman literally gang raped to death while out for an evening with her boyfriend has resonated with right thinking women everywhere.  The 'honor killings' where young women have been brutally done to death to save their family's honor have horrified the world and don't get me started on female foeticide......

The truth is, it's impossible to generalize about a whole society because of certain, negative news reports.   Even though there have been horrific crimes against women in India's recent past, I know for a fact, having lived here for eighteen years, that India is not necessarily a nation where women are under constant threat of misogynistic crimes and hatred.  There are many Indian men who stand up for women all the time - in their daily lives, in small ways and in big ways.

For an example of a man who stands up for women and values them, I need look no further than my own husband, Dr. Mukesh.  Mukesh, although married to an English speaking woman (me), didn't start studying English himself until he was twelve years old.  He's as genuinely Indian as can be, educated through Hindi. He certainly didn't end up with me because of Anglophile tendencies and was not looking for a passport to living in the west when we decided to get married.  I had to come to India to be with him.  He's a biochemistry professor and has guided many students, both male and female, in postgraduate studies.  He encourages all his students, regardless of gender, to make the most of whatever educational facilities are available and to use their education for the betterment of themselves and for society.  Having a long track record of teaching at university level, some of his former students have done extremely well career wise.  Yet one of the former students of which he's most proud is Anjali, a postgraduate who works in the outreach section of a government research agency.  Anjali's job is to communicate with women at village level and teach them how to use kitchen gardens to grow useful herbs and plants which are an asset to their lives, both from a financial and a therapeutic point of view.

One of the things I value most about Mukesh is the fact that like me, his wish for our daughters is not to 'marry them off' with a bundle of 'dahej' (dowry), but rather to make them responsible, educated women who will have the ability to earn their own income and take decisions for themselves.  Including the decision about whether or not to marry.

Another example of a man who is a true 'soldier for women' is my brother-in -law, Rajeev Mohan.  Rajeev works with an NGO (non-government organization) which is dedicated to the betterment of women, the NARI SEVA SAMITI.  Founded in the last century by Padmashri Mona Chandravati Gupta, this Lucknow based organization works in the area of  education and empowerment.  They run an institution which provides education to girls from nursery to post graduate level and also provides vocational skills.  The organization also provides free legal aid and family counselling to women in distressing family situations.  Working in the area Family Counselling, Rajeev had handled many cases throughout the years.  Many women and families have benefited from the support provided by this organization. Although the media is very quick to highlight negative reports about the position of women in society, it's important to emphasize the very worthwhile work done in by various organizations and the individuals who work in them. Individuals like Rajeev who have put their whole professional lives into taking care of the problems of others have given an invaluable contribution to society.

One of the reasons women suffer so much in society, not only in Indian society but everywhere in the world, is that their contribution to family life is very often taken for granted and not even valued very highly. In the marriage commitment, two people agree to live together in a bond which literally dedicates them to each other's welfare.  Yet while the woman is automatically expected to sacrifice everything for the welfare of her husband and his family, the man is not necessarily expected to do the same.  Yet here in India, I know a man who literally sacrificed his high flying career for the welfare of his wife. I'm talking about my rakhi (adopted) brother, Ramana, the blogger from Pune.  Two decades ago, Ramana's late wife suffered a stroke which left her in need of full time care.  Ramana, instead of hiring a nurse to care for her and carrying on with his career as a management professional, took early retirement and cared for her full-time for the rest of her life.  He was just a little over fifty at the time and certainly very young to retire.  Yet the time he spent caring for his wife and being with her is a time he wouldn't have missed for anything.  And he never brags about it either.  I'm doing that for him.  Ramana is a follower of the vedas (hinduism), but as a Christian, I see his example as living out the Biblical injunction to husbands to care for their wives and go all out for their welfare.  While everyone seems to know  heroic women who have made sacrifices for marriage and family, I'm proud to know a man who has done exactly the same.

I'm sure there must be more men like Mukesh, Rajeev and Ramana in Indian society.  But these are the ones I know.  That's why I'm sharing this post.

This post is a part of #Soldierforwomen in association with


  1. It is a shame when a society is judged on the actions of a few. Thank you for sharing your experiences and knowledge of three remarkable men. Your husband is a true soldier for women - it is a shame we don't hear more about men like him, Rajeev and Ramana xx

  2. It was nice to read your blog today. It made me truly emotional.
    It also reinforced my conviction. India is very diverse and there are some wrongs happening accross the breadth of the country and its true.... but the opposite of that is also true. Thats a greater truth.

  3. Hi Teresa - thanks for your visit and comment. I've met some wonderful people since I've been living here and it's great to get a chance to spread the word about them.

  4. Suman -it's been a long time since I've seen you around in the blogosphere. This is a pleasant surprise. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I once worked with a wonderful Indian gentleman who used to say 'Everything you can say about India is true. And the reverse is also true.' I want to let people know about the good things that are happening here. There is enough written about the bad things.

  5. You made the impossible possible. I blushed! Thank you. Just a note about Urmeela. She would have done the same for me if the roles had been reversed.

    "In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit."
    ~ Albert Schweitzer

    My inner spirit was rekindled by Urmeela at a time when I had nothing to live for and I was heading down a dangerous path. She was special for me and will always be.

  6. While the crimes you described and that we have heard about are atrocious, the vast majority of men seem to be honourable and the ones you wrote about extremely so.
    I think all nations have rogue men among them (and women too at times) so we must keep it all in proportion, mustn't we?
    Maggie x

    Nuts in May

  7. I loved reading your post today, Maria. It was uplifting while being informative.

    Hats off to Dr Mukesh, Rejeev and Rammana. Three great men.

    And yes what you said about women-same in our country too. Women are taken for granted, beaten, raped and generally treated as second class citizen.



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