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In Netherlands, PM Narendra Modi pitches for Women Empowerment in India

Implying that it was paying dividends, he said that when the Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana was launched aiming at people who did not have bank accounts, most of those who availed of it were women

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Narendra Modi. Wikimedia
  • Modi also said that the target of providing electricity to 18,000 villages within 1,000 days was set to be met soon
  • Modi urged the Indian diaspora across the world to maintain their connections with their motherland
  • The Netherlands is home to around 220,000 people of Indian origin, many of whom are Surinami Hindustanis

The Hague, June 28, 2017: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday made a strong pitch for women’s empowerment, saying he is working for a women-led development of India.

“There is a government sitting in the Centre that is thinking about women-led development,” Modi said while addressing a gathering of 3,000-strong diaspora here.

Implying that it was paying dividends, he said that when the Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana was launched aiming at people who did not have bank accounts, most of those who availed of it were women.

ALSO READ: Not a single Blot of Corruption Against my Government, says PM Narendra Modi

“We created Mudra Yojana to promote entrepreneurship and turn job-seekers into job-creators,” Modi said. “Around seven crore people have taken advantage of it and 70 per cent of them are women.”

Stating that Parliament took a decision to extend maternity leave of working women to 26 weeks, he said: “It is an investment meant for the benefit of our future generations.”

He said that when then US President Barack Obama came to attend the 2015 Republic Day parade in New Delhi as the chief guest, each of the three services giving the guard of honour was commanded by a woman.

He said that women were starting to play a major role in India’s security and mentioned that Indian women were now flying fighter aircraft.

Referring to the launch of 104 satellites in one go, firing of the world’s heaviest launch vehicle and GSLV MkIII-D1 earlier this month and the simultaneous launch of 30 nano-satellites last week, the Prime Minister said that three of the most prominent scientists working behind these projects were women.

He said that more and more women were handling the education and health sectors in India and added that Olympic medals were being won by the country’s daughters.

“It is not just working for the development of India but working for a modern India,” Modi underlined.

In this regard, he said that India was targeting 175 GW of renewable energy to meet its energy needs.

“Solar energy, wind energy, biomass energy — it is these that will meet our energy needs,” he stated.

Modi also said that the target of providing electricity to 18,000 villages within 1,000 days was set to be met soon.

“Under the Digital India mission, we are laying optical fibre network, so that those living in our villages can use mobile phones.”

Modi urged the Indian diaspora across the world to maintain their connections with their motherland.

The Netherlands is home to around 220,000 people of Indian origin, many of whom are Surinami Hindustanis, descendants of Indians taken there in the 18th century to work as indentured labourers in sugarcane plantations in Suriname.

He appreciated the Surinami Hindustanis for maintaining their Indian culture and traditions even after 150 years of their ancestors leaving the shores of India.

“However heavy or big an iron ball is, it will roll away if one or two people will give it a strong push. But a tree with strong roots cannot be moved,” said the Prime Minister. (IANS)

Next Story

‘Daughter’s Pride Festival’: Celebrating India’s Daughters

It will need a lot of perseverance to achieve women's empowerment, says Jaglan, but the hope is that the names of girls being displayed outside doors will herald a brighter future for girls.

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India, Names
There is excitement in Patuka village in Haryana state as a man heads out to put nameplates with daughters' names on several homes. VOA

There is a sense of excitement in India’s Patuka village — adults and children look curiously as signs with the names of daughters are hammered outside several homes. It is a novelty in a village where patriarchal mindsets have long held sway.

As Mubin Sumssu poses proudly with his family after the name of his 14-year-old daughter is posted outside his gate, he envisions a new future for her. “I hope she studies well, progresses in life, does a good job and makes a name for herself.”

This is not the life that girls can traditionally aspire to in this Muslim-dominated village, which lies in one of the country’s most backward districts in the northern Haryana state. Many girls do not complete school and their lives revolve around household chores and looking after siblings from an early age. Most are married off young.

The nameplate campaign, called “Daughter’s Pride Festival,” hopes to make a difference by persuading village families to treat girls on par with boys. The aim: Names of girls plastered outside doors will carry the winds of change inside homes that continue to be ruled firmly by men.

The head of the village council is a 23-year-old woman, Anjum Aara — laws mandating female participation in local bodies have brought women like her to prominence. More educated than most girls in the village, Aara has been emphasizing the importance of educating girls since she came to Patuka after her marriage.

She is optimistic that the latest campaign will raise consciousness about the need to empower women. “It will make people understand that the daughter is the identity of the family,” Aara said. “They will be inspired to educate girls. Those with negative thinking about this will become more positive.”

Patriarchal mindsets

It is not an easy goal in places where women traditionally never had a voice. One village woman approached by a reporter for her reaction to the campaign refused to speak without her husband’s permission. The girls whose names have appeared outside homes are shy and appear to have limited understanding about its significance.

India, Names
Some families in Patuka village in Haryana state are posting nameplates of their daughters as part of a campaign that aims to change patriarchal attitudes and empower women. VOA

Nonetheless, the man spearheading the campaign, Sunil Jaglan, is optimistic that such steps will slowly usher in social transformation. The nameplate campaign is part of a model he followed in his village, Bibipur, when he was its head. It has now been adopted by the government in scores of villages.

Jaglan says it is not easy to persuade men to put their daughters’ names outside homes in villages with deeply entrenched customs.

He points out that virtually no women get a share of parental property despite laws granting them equal rights. Terming the campaign a “mind-strike,” Jaglan says that “this is a symbol to make people understand that putting the man’s name is not enough. The woman also lives there. She also has an equal stake in the home, in the property, in the village.”

The initiative cuts across religious communities in a country where patriarchal mindsets prevail among both the majority Hindu community and minority Muslims.

India, Names
Many families in Alipur village in Haryana state are now educating young girls, and say they will treat them on par with boys. VOA

About 20 kilometers down a road that cuts through fields blooming with the golden mustard crop, 25 out of 700 homes in another village boast of nameplates with their daughters’ names. Alipur is more prosperous, but traditional mindsets rule here as well — women automatically cover their heads when they see men.

Skewed gender ratio

In this Hindu-dominated village, the campaign is addressing another challenge: a skewed gender ratio. In Alipur, as in thousands of other villages, the number of girls dwindled in recent decades due to illegal sex-selective abortions. The practice, known as female foeticide, has flourished in a society that traditionally prefers boys.

Nobody knows that better than Mahesh Jangra, whose home flashes the name of his 10-year-old daughter, Dipti. Growing up in Alipur, he saw many more boys than girls in his village. But he says the imbalance has brought an awakening.

“Now people realize that who will the boys marry if there are no girls?” Jangra said. “First everyone gave priority to sons, now we want to treat sons and daughters equally and put the daughter’s name ahead.”

That is why he willingly put his daughter’s name outside his door, instead of that of his 15-year-old son.

India, Names
Many women in Alipur village in Haryana state keep their head covered, as tradition demands. VOA

So far it is the more affluent families like that of Jangra that have opted to post their daughters’ names. But as they are usually the trendsetters in the village, the hope is that others will follow suit.

Komal Kalonia, a 19-year-old college student, is one of the few girls who has received a good education. She says her family did not need any persuasion to put her name outside. Kalonia feels the nameplate will send a message.

“When a passerby sees this, it will encourage them to do the same and take their thinking a step ahead,” she said.

As such campaigns make a mark, the state’s gender ratio has improved from 834 girls for 1,000 boys, according to the 2011 census, to 914 last year.

Also Read: The Risk of FGM Hangs Above British Schoolgirls During Holiday Break

It will need a lot of perseverance to achieve women’s empowerment, says Jaglan, but the hope is that the names of girls being displayed outside doors will herald a brighter future for girls.

“I cannot say everybody’s mindset has changed. But if families agree happily, then the message we are giving through these nameplates will ultimately percolate down.” (VOA)