Women are the embodiment of all things resiliently steadfast and challenging. Perhaps it is the innate power stemming from the female essence or a resolution to do all odds- female power indeed is inspiring. India has been a country propagating women empowerment and considering its women folk as equals, yet numerous times there have been people who have failed their country. But the country also boasts of such powerful women that can be an inspiration for anyone, in what they have done and continue to do. Throughout history and in time, Indian women are true Goddesses. Here are 15 women achievers in India of all time you can turn to if ever you need inspiration-
In a country where crime against women has been rampantly prevailing, Laxmi Agarwal could have been another one of the multitude of victims ruing her ruined existence. Instead, the then 15 year old braveheart exhibited tremendous courage to rise above the assault of an acid attack. Not only she emerged stronger and bolder after the unfortunate encounter, but also became to champion causes of thousands of acid burnt survivors like her.
It is indeed a matter commendable that the Supreme Court of India acted on her many petitions against the open sale of acid and initiated steps to regulate its sale in regard to its use for spurious, inhuman purposes. From making prosecution of similar cases a matter less tedious to being actively involved with organisations that work along similar lines, Laxmi Agarwal is one of the women achievers of India who is inspiring in her fearlessness and her refusal to be just another woman submitting to her destiny. The recipient of the 2014 International Women of Courage award, Agarwal’s defiant life attitude will come to life on the silver screen with a Bollywood project titled Chhapaak. She is the embodiment of the real life hero, unperturbed and undefeated.
A name oft encountered in the circuit of Indian environmentalists, Saalumarada Thimmakka’s tireless pursuit of causes that concern the environment is ironically the rejection of a very dominant social standing. As a couple who could not bear kids, Thimmakka started planting trees in lieu of children in a venture that’s commendable not just for the magnanimity it harbours but also because she did not wilt before societal expectations and instead diverted herself to doings more demanding and necessary.
It is indeed incredible that this woman, well over 100 years of age, did not need to have formal education to understand how trees are so essential for the sustenance of the planet. Over the course of her life, she has planted well over 8000 Banyan trees. Named by the BBC in its 2016 list of the 100 most influential and inspirational women in the world, Thimmakka isn’t just an achiever. She is an inspiration and a role model for many who are unperturbed enough to yield into demands that are essential but are in no way the be all and end all of life.
Dr. Seema Rao
The country’s first woman commando trainer also qualified as a professional medical doctor, Seema Rao is India’s Wonder Woman. Having specialised in close quarter battle, Rao has trained the Special Forces of India without compensation for 18 long years. Indeed in her fierce domination, Dr. Rao is an inspiration but what makes her one among the prolific women achievers of India is the background that shaped her person.
A meek child in school, bullied and oppressed by the stronger ones, there was perhaps no way Dr. Rao would be one among the first in the Indian armed forces. However her suppression only made her more defiant of her self, as she went on to become a trained martial arts exponent as well. A black belt in taekwondo and also one of the only ten women in the world trained in Jeet Kune Do, Rao is a definite powerhouse. Not only that, the exceptional woman has also been one of the finalists of the Mrs. India World pageant.
In the civil sphere of the country, Kiran Bedia is a name that created waves by being the first female presence when she became the first ever woman to become an IPS officer. Her daunting spirit and determination to make governance a better prospect in India made her a phenomenon throughout the country. As stories of her valour and spirited resolve started doing the rounds, she instantly became the emblem of women empowerment and justice. Also the first Indian woman to be appointed as a Police Advisor to the UN Secretary General in 2003 and a Ramon Magsaysay awardee for the many reforms she introduced at the Tihar Jail, Bedi is a definite and inspirational achiever.
One of the most well known names in the boxing circuit in India is the magnificent Mary Kom who delivers every time with her kickass punches in the ring. A six time World Amateur Boxing Champion and the only female in that, this among the many women achievers of India has numerous firsts to her credit. The only boxer to have eight World Championship golds in her kitty, Mary Kom is the world number one in the latest AIBA world rankings. The only woman boxer to have won a medal in each one of the first seven World Championships and also the only boxer to become Asian Amateur Boxing Champion for a record five times, Mary Kom inspires and motivates with her every move. Also an animal rights activist and an incumbent member of the Rajya Sabha, Mary Kom awes and inspires with her success.
Professionally a computer scientist and an engineer, in addition to being the chairperson of the Infosys Foundation and a member of numerous public health care initiatives of the Gates Foundation, Ms Sudha Murthy has been no doubt one true embodiment of the dictum of gender equality in every realm. Specifically at a time when Indian women were not accorded the same status and allowances as the common Indian man, there has been this lady who drafted goals and worked on them with such dedication that she inevitably became a role model for many.
Even in her person, Ms Murthy remains more of an inspiration. Not only because she chose to tread unexplored grounds, but because she remained steadfast in the midst of it all. Whether it be overcoming stereotypes to stand her ground or supporting her husband Mr Narayan Murthy, This lady is one of the most inspiring women achievers in India there will ever be.
Rani Laxmi Bai
It hasn’t however been only in the modern dawn that the upsurge of women achievers in India has been a reality. Even in history, India has birthed such ladies who have been such encompassment of valour and power that seriously provides immense inspiration to all. One such celebrated and courageous woman has been Rani Laxmi Bai, the fearless Queen of Jhansi.
Even in the pre independence era, there was this woman so rooted in modern ideals and notions that she single handedly threatened to uproot the British advances on her land. She eventually lost her life at the battle against the British but not after she had put up a valiant show of bravery and audaciousness to ward off the foreign force. It is indeed remarkable that the Jhansi ki Rani remained unperturbed in her zeal to ensure the freedom and security of her people that she resiliently shoved aside the death of her four month old son even when it had cost her husband his sanity.
The Chief Economist of the International Monetary Fund, Gita Gopinath is the first ever woman to be a designate in the prestigious position. Also the only Indian after the illustrious Amartya Sen to be a permanent member at the Harvard Economics Department, Gopinath is a woman who has moulded herself in a way that her passions and interests define the individual she encompasses. It is perhaps remarkable that Gopinath rose to such great heights in the national and international platform on her own merits and sheer dedication. A former economic adviser to the Kerala Government and also a co-director of the International Finance and Macroeconomics program at the National Bureau of Economic Research, Gopinath’s achievements in her chosen field of specialisation are second to none. It is her determination and hard work that projects Gita Gopinath as a key figure among the women achievers of India.
The first Indian female gymnast to qualify for an Olympics and also the first Indian gymnast to clinch a gold medal at a global event, Dipa Karmakar’s story is one of resolute success. Though she started training in the sport when she was still quite young, Karmakar’s flat feet came in the way of her pursuit to be a successful gymnast. However this young girl from the north eastern state of Tripura was so determined to pursue her dreams that she practised relentlessly and tirelessy and ultimately overcome all barriers to emerge as the Indian gymnast with numerous firsts to her credit.
Not only that, Dipa is also one among the only five women in the history of the sport to have successfully landed the Produnova vault, the toughest move in the purview of gymnastics. Currently one of the best known female vaulters of the world, Dipa Karmakar is an inspiring woman, both in her achievements and in her persona.
Dr. Tessy Thomas
India’s Missile Woman, Dr. Tessy Thomas is the lady who was the former Project Director of the Agni- IV missile under the Defence Research and Development Organization. Hailed as Agni Putri for her immense dedication towards the development of the missile and also the first Indian woman in the field of leading a missile mission, Thomas is remarkable on her hold of what has been traditionally a male dominated field. This lady from Kerala is one of those women achievers who has helped establish India as a land that nurtures and encourages talent and dedication streaming in and from all forms whatsoever.
What makes Indian female sprinter Hima Das an inspiration for many is not just her legions of achievement on the track both in local and foreign grounds but also the hardships she endured and overcome to emerge as the Golden Girl who has been grabbing eyeballs with her every appearance since the last year or so.
The first Indian athlete to clinch a gold medal in a track event at the IAAF World Under 20 Athletics Championship, Hima managed to ensure that all spotlight was exclusively on her in the events that followed, specifically during this year when she claimed a staggering five gold medals in a single month. From running barefooted on the village roads to exercising her heroics on the track, Hima Das is a lesson on spirit and determination, and how a steadfast mind is all that one requires to overcome every obstacle and shine on to ultimate glory.
She is among the best Indian tennis players of all times and one of the prominent women achievers in India who inspires with her stupendous exploits both on and off the court. The only Indian woman ever to have won a Grand Slam event, and also the highest ranked Indian tennis player, Sania Mirza has forever been a phenomenon. Her powerful backhand strokes complements well her fierce personality both on and off court. However for someone who had been told to quit playing at a mere eight years because then ‘no one would marry her’, Mirza’s story is not just of passion and talent, but also of grit and determination.
Mirza’s reputation as being a hugely successful player has boded well for her public image. One of the highest-paid and high-profile athletes in the country, Mirza is the first among female players in India to have surpassed US$1 million in career earnings. A former world number one in doubles, Mirza’s Grand Slam cabinet boasts of six doubles and mix doubles titles. Mirza also is the first seeded Indian female at a Grand Slam event in the 2006 Australian Open while for the 2015 Wimbledon championship, Mirza’s top seeding made her again the first women player from the country with such distinction.
Mirza’s series of unprecedented exploits on the tennis court in the international stage also earned her accolades and fame. The Time magazine included her in their 2015 list of the “50 Heroes of Asia”. The UN Women’s Goodwill Ambassador for South Asia and one among Time’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2016, Mirza’s success and assertion spawns boundaries and realms, from being a global citizen to being an international player, Mirza’s accomplishments stand unparalleled.
The first ever female amputee in the world to have successfully scaled the Mount Everest, Arunima Sinha is a definite and badass achiever. But it is more the circumstances that governs her illustrious life that makes Sinha a terrific inspiration as well.
For someone who had been an enthusiastic national level volleyball player, losing a leg would necessarily be spelling doom. Specifically when Sinha lost her leg after being pushed out from a moving train for resisting a robbery, no one would have expected her to hold on to her resolve. Yet she did, and thumped her spirit with such resolute commiment that she took the entire world by surprise. Not only did she conquer the highest peak on earth, she also conquered the highest peaks in each of the continents. That speaks volumes about Sinha’s commitment and explains why we consider her as an achiever of all times.
Celebrated Indian actress Deepika Padukone might be making waves with her talents within the country and also globally but that perhaps isn’t enough reason to count her among inspiring women achievers. What however ensures Padukone as a personality that is inspiring in her grace and fame is that within her femininity, she holds so much resolve that does not let her shy away from speaking up openly about the concerning issues at hand.
Padukone has been an active enthusiast and a vocal supporter of the need to speak out about mental heath to deride the stigma surrounding it and create awareness about the same. While it has been her personal struggle with depression that convinced her to go all out about the debilitation that it might cause, she continues to be associated with the cause even after she has long recovered. And Padukone doesn’t merely speak outs or addresses qualms in her celebrity status; with the Live, Love, Laugh Foundation the actress also ensures that victims of depression and other such concerns should find an adequate platform to express and rebuild themselves. Deepika Padukone sure is an actress but in her person she is as deft an empathising human as any other.
Astronaut Kalpana Chawla was the first Indian woman to go to space and even in her death, she remains an inspirational achiever. Engineering, and specifically astronautical engineering was not yet the domain of the females when a determined Chawla embarked to make her mark in the world that had her forever in its lure. As an ambitious young woman, dedicated and hard working, Chawla made it matter in her chosen field of expertise. She made it to the unbounded expanses of space and died there, as a true daughter of the universe. A posthumous recipient of the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, Chawla is a nation hero in India and continues to inspire all with her achievements even after sixteen years of her demise.