OPINION: Women of Indian subcontinent, I salute you!

Today, 12th May, is Mother’s Day.

On this occasion, I salute the brave women of India, whom I regard as our true heroes.

Most people hero-worship famous political leaders like Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, and Lenin, or brilliant military commanders such as Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, and Napoleon. I, too, admire many of them. 

However, my greater heroes are those who remain anonymous. In particular, I salute the brave women of the Indian subcontinent who selflessly and anonymously dedicate themselves to feeding their families and managing their homes on the modest incomes of their husbands or their own earnings. These women perform back-breaking work all day long, including washing clothes, cooking, caring for children, and keeping their homes clean. Additionally, some supplement their family’s income with outside work.

It is estimated that about 57% of Indian women are anaemic, which indicates they do not get enough to eat. 

Despite this, they often choose to feed their children and husbands before themselves. Should we not admire them? I regard them as our real heroes.

As I stated in an article, IQ tests have demonstrated that women are intellectually equal to men. 

Yet, they are often oppressed and discriminated against. It is the people’s revolution, which I foresee occurring in 10–15 years, that will establish a social and political order where our women will be truly emancipated.

I conclude by quoting verses from the great Tamil poet Subramania Bharati, who wrote around 1908–1910, advocating powerfully for women’s emancipation — a time when the concept was virtually unthought of globally, placing him far ahead of his time:

“Gummiyadi Gummiyadi Nadumughudum Kulungida thaikotti Gummiyadi”

“Dance, oh friend, dance; let playing dandiya shake and wake this entire Nation. Celebrate our emancipation from the ghosts binding us for centuries. Those who believed educating women would harm society are gone! Those strange men wanting women locked inside have tasted downfall! So, friends, let’s celebrate the emancipation of women by playing dandiya.”

“Pudhumaip Penn” (The New Woman)

“This world will excel in knowledge and wisdom by treating men and women as equals. Valiant women will soon eradicate the tradition of seclusion in homes.”

“Pengal Viduthalaik Kummi” (Women’s Liberation Song)

“Those who deemed it sinful for women to touch books have perished; The absurd men who wished to confine women inside now hang their heads in shame.”

From “Murasu”

“Blinding one eye spoils your vision; similarly, hindering women’s education impairs the world. Educating women will automatically dispel the backwardness engulfing this world.”

“Pattankkal Aazhvadum Sattankkal Seivathum Paarinil Penkal Nadatha Vanthom”

“Women are now attaining degrees, legislating, and ruling the world. Women of the Indian subcontinent, I salute you.”

Justice Markandey Katju retired from the Supreme Court in 2011.


The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of THE WEEK.