India is fortunate to have borne testimony to some of the finest women politicians in the world. Recently, according to US based Pew Research Centre, India tops the list of countries, beating countries like US which stands at 33, when it came to having women at the helm of political affairs.
That is a testimony in itself that India´s daughter´ is not just a rape victim but also a powerful political leader, in the form of a Prime Minister, President, Vice President, Speaker, Chief Minister and holding other plum portfolios.
Even today in the world, a woman in power is more the exception rather than the norm. India has also had the longest stretches in history that saw women in powerful positions, with late PM, Smt. Indira Gandhi and Pratibha Patil both serving a combined 21 of the past 50 years. This is the longest serving record of women in powerful political positions. This is followed closely by Ireland, Bangladesh, Austria, Ecuador and Madagascar. Also, female leadership is more commonly found in some regions of the world such as the Nordic countries, with the exception of Sweden which has not seen a female leader, much like its counterparts US and Mexico.
Anyway, if the image of Indira Gandhi or Mamata Banerjee quickly flashed in your mind after reading the title, I am sorry to break your bubble. They did not identify or agree with the concept of Feminism and preferred not to be branded as one. Even though, they tirelessly worked for the upliftment and welfare of women! Anyway, more about them in another post.
I am talking about the Lady who has left Tamil Nadu inconsolable with her sad demise.
She is the ‘Wonder Woman’ for Tamil women in particular, who vote for her solely, because she makes men fall at her feet. Literally! This is no laughing matter and by no means, a small feat either. Jayalalitha has convincingly made the women voters think she is their proxy. And true to her word, Tamil Nadu is one of the safest states for women under her vigilant leadership.
The story of Jayalalitha would actually make a great case study on the rebuttal of Patriarchy in Indian politics. The horror stories of exploitation, abuse and betrayal still casts a dark shadow upon her and she refuses to forget that part of her life – that of a helpless victim of ugly sexism. This led her into severe depression and even suicide attempt. It was MGR who saw her through her personal crisis and became her mentor. She quickly learned from her failings and re-emerged stronger and mightier than ever before.
She was known to be a very independent woman who always acted on her own volitions. In an orthodox, traditional society, she made a definite choice to steer clear of marriage, placing far greater value on her own freedom and independence. She had absolutely no regrets about her decision and having no children of her own. She always found her satisfaction in working for the common man, calling the people of Tamil Nadu, her children and she, their mother. Always guiding and showing them the right path!
In the words of Amartya Sen and Jean Dreze, “Tamil Nadu is less known but no less significant.”
Under her stellar leadership, The Tamil Nadu model of government has proven to be stable, consistent and sustainable. Her welfare schemes such as the 20 kg rice for ration-card holders, mixers, grinders, etc, creation of more than 1.5 crore new job opportunities, setting up of many small scale industries, giving unmatched attention to the education and many more have earned her the love, trust and faith amongst the people.
Very recently, the former Supreme Court Justice Markandey Katju threw a bombshell after Jayalalitha´s hospitalisation, confessing his Ék tarfa pyaar´ on social media. He said, “All these Cassandras of doom will be disillusioned. Jayalalitha is a sherni, and her opponents are langoors. She will recover and be back to work. When I was a young man, and she too was young, I thought her extremely attractive and had fallen in love with her, though of course she did not know about it, and it was unrequited love. I still find her attractive (which unfortunately I am not now), and am still in love with her, and wish her speedy recovery. Hari Om,”