By Swarnendu Biswas
In the first few minutes of my first meeting with her, it was quite difficult for me to discern that this extremely unassuming and scholarly lady with a friendly disposition, and ravishingly gorgeous laughter, has across the last three decades been responsible for giving sleepless nights to countless proponents of oppressive and feudalistic mindsets.
In other words, people who wrongly think or thought that their illegal and inhuman deeds would be strong enough to throttle the voice of law and sanity.
But gradually with the progress of the conversation, as the conviction and the music of inherent leadership in her soft and firm voice began to induce me to open the windows of my insular mind towards a more humane, equitable and just tomorrow, I began to realise that I am privileged to be in the company of a real superwoman.
A superwoman who is feared and hated by a plethora of perpetrators of dowry, domestic violence and honour killings; a thought leader who is the hope of a generation of enterprising women wanting to have their rightful share in the highest legislative body of the country; a compassionate mind who is always there to help the underprivileged and underserved — both among the women and the men.
An Inspiring Presence
I realised that even within a turbulent sea of crowd, she can easily become a leader whenever she chooses to, for minds like her are only born to lead; to show us the way from darkness to light. I also began to understand the steely grit within her compassionate mind.
To name this embodiment of power, passion and compassion, you can call her Dr. Ranjana Kumari, the Director of Delhi-based and internationally renowned NGO, Centre for Social Research.
Today, after three decades of its struggles and successes, Centre for Social Research is probably one of the most powerful pressure groups in India, working towards justice, empowerment and equality of women.
Founded in 1983, CSR’s mission has been to empower the women and girls of India, guarantee their fundamental rights, and increase understanding of social issues from a gender perspective.
The organisation, led by Ranjana’s powerful vision, operates on local, national and regional levels in an effort to enhance the capacities of individuals, communities and institutions for creating a humane, equitable and gender-just society.
Ranjana Kumari was the main player behind the famous signature campaign, which snowballed into an environment of potent activism that eventually induced the Rajya Sabha to clear the Women’s Reservation Bill during the budget session in 2010.
I am sure future history would credit her empowering vision and activism, and Sonia Gandhi’s dynamic political leadership, for the smooth passage of the bill in the Rajya Sabha.
I am also sure this bill will be passed through the Lok Sabha soon, to emerge as a real force for women in the near future, despite the vested forces of patriarchy and chauvinism opposing, tooth and nail, the birth of this remarkable legislation.
This bill, when becomes a law, is sure to bring about path-breaking socio-cultural changes from gender perspective, and the fact that Ranjana remains one of the major propelling forces behind the translation of this revolutionary bill to a law gives our society hope for a new tomorrow.
In my subsequent meetings with her, I slowly began to get transfixed by her dynamism and empowering vision, which allowed me to believe that I too could make a change in my own little way, in this unjust world, if I can get to assist a progressive leader and a truly original thinker like her.
To read the rest of this 21-page interview, please get your free membership to the Naaree Academy for Indian Women Achievers.
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