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Indian Women Scientists: Do We Lag Behind Our Western Counterparts?

Science is believed to be associated with meritocracy and its standards are considered universalistic. Yet women in science and technology are very few in all parts of the world. And India is no exception to this.

Though the education and workplace environment in the last two decades for women in science and technology has witnessed a positive transformation, the deep-rooted issues in socio-cultural acceptance have not been adequately addressed. As a result, women are still facing gender disparity.

Worldwide, science is traditionally an area that is a stronghold of men. It is this perception that has led to the marginalization of women in science related careers – more so in India. It has been traditionally expected of women in India to be home-makers rather than professionals, negatively affecting the participation of women in science.

It was only in 2005 that a woman was appointed head of a national physics laboratory. There has been no woman president of the two national science academies, namely, the Indian National Science Academy and the Indian Academy of Sciences.

Of the 179 fellowships granted by the first academy, only three have gone to women, and of the 112 granted by the second, only two have gone to women. Only eight women have received the most prestigious Indian Science Award out of 333 awarded since 1958.

Women are also under-represented on award-giving committees. Is it really a surprise then that women in India lag behind their western counterparts?

Although there is no explicit discrimination against women in enrolment and recruitment at the university or faculty levels, attitudinal biases against women and unsupportive institutional structures have over the years operated as powerful forces against talented women realizing their full potential in the pursuit of productive and rewarding careers in science.

In the field of science, one cannot work “part-time”. Most working women in India play dual roles of a home-maker and professional. And sometimes handling both at the same time becomes challenging.

Here women tend to opt out or “take a break”, but re-entering the field becomes all the more difficult. In addition to such workplace problems, there is lack of support from family. More often than not, a girl child in India is educated only up to a certain degree and then married off.

Even if a woman works, the stringent pressures to look after the family and houses results in women changing their jobs to something more manageable and convenient; or giving up their careers entirely.

This situation is slowly changing but a lot more needs to be done in order to attract women to science and more importantly, to retain them in the profession. A beginning has been made by the Ministries concerned of the government to redress this.

The most recent of these is the decision taken by the Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister, headed by C.N.R. Rao, to set up a National Task Force on Women in Science. Several women scientists from leading Indian centers of science have taken time off their own work to research and campaign on these issues at academic and professional fore.

Women in India are qualified, driven and ready to overcome barriers. The challenge will be to successfully address the many problems that our society still faces.


Nurture Talent Academy Announces Techpreneur Workshops For Students

Nurture Talent Academy today announced its series of workshops named Techpreneur to impart entrepreneurship and technology skills among Indian students.

The program will be held for one week each in four cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad. Venture capitalists, angel investors and successful entrepreneurs will be invited as experts for the program.

Nurture Talent Academy Entrepreneurial Training

The aim is to train students on the basics of business plan and starting a technology venture. Each session will be having interactive exercises, business plan templates and dialogue with experienced experts.

Amit Grover, Founder of Nurture Talent said, “In 2 years of my journey as an entrepreneur, I have seen the potential of Indian students closely. Given the right information, awareness and knowledge, they can do wonders and achieve their dreams at an early age. They have the potential to creat the next Apple, Facebook or Instagram”.

Nurture Talent has conducted over 200 workshops across 68 cities attended by over 10000 students, professionals and entrepreneurs.

The objective of Techpreneur is to motivate the students to solve the key problems, generate ideas and build small prototype during the programs and train the students to take up entrepreneurship as a career option.

This will also help students to learn how to make rapid prototypes, LEAN STARTUP methodology, mentoring on ideas, making minimum viable product during the program itself.

The best students will get one month Internship opportunities in startups like Ixigo, Myntra, Pristine and many more startups across India. For more details, you can visit

About Nurture Talent Academy

Nurture Talent Academy is India’s 1st Institute for training entrepreneurs. Started in January, 2010 with the objective of training students, professionals and startups, it has conducted 200 workshops across 68 cities attended by 10000+ participants. It covers the basics on subjects like business plan, technology, marketing, finance, and HR during the programs.

Amit Grover, Founder, is an IIT and IIM alumnus and has worked with Infosys, Asian Paints and Onida in the past. The objective is to enable 1000 ventures to start in next 3-5 years, which will generate 20000 jobs for the country.



Marry An NRI At Your Own Risk

The promise of a secure, luxurious life lures many women and their families to opt for marriage to an NRI groom, making them vulnerable to exploitation and abandonment. Can corrective reforms put an end to the evil practice of fraudulent NRI marriages, asks Leena Kundnani.

As she peeked through her rich and intricately woven maroon and golden veil to catch a glimpse of her husband Manoj, 18-year-old Neeta started daydreaming about the luxurious life that lay ahead of her. The first in her family to go abroad, she thought to herself: “this wedding is a dream come true.”

NRI Wedding

Reminisces Neeta’s mother; “We thought this was a God-sent match as he was well established abroad. We were happy that our daughter would lead a secure and comfortable life and would enjoy all the luxuries we lacked.” The family, who hails from a remote town in the Indian province of Punjab, were so impressed with the suave and sophisticated Manoj, that they even sold their ancestral property in the village to meet the hefty $20,000 dowry demand.

Manoj left India a week after the wedding, promising to send his new wife the documents she needed to get a visa. Neeta and her parents waited for the documents to arrive. And waited. And waited. After nearly one year of anxious waiting, the divorce papers came along with the news: Manoj had used most of the dowry money to sponsor his longtime Indian girlfriend.

“Where Is My Husband?”

Neeta is not the only one suffering. After waiting for nearly one year for her visa papers, Jasmeet landed at Heathrow airport, eager to start her new life with her husband. She found him waiting anxiously for her at the airport. Visibly happy to see her, he greeted her with a quick hug and a peck on the cheek. He took her suitcase and passport and asked her to wait while he fetched his car. He never returned.

The distraught bride waited for hours for her husband to return, and, at last in tears, she sought help of the airport staff. She had no idea of her husband’s address or contact number. She was in an alien country, with nowhere to go, and no one to turn to. One of the officers took her to the nearest gurudwara at Southhall. The gurudwara authorities tried to locate her husband, but in vain. They then, helped her re-apply for her passport, raised funds for her ticket, and arranged for her passage back home. For no fault of hers, Jasmeet was abandoned.

There are hundreds of stories of abandoned brides being reported to the Indian press in the last few years. Still others go unreported for fear of social stigma. The word NRI (Non Resident Indian) has in fact, now become a four-letter word, as it only brings grief to the families falling for NRI grooms.

Lies, deceit, fallacious promises and escalating dowry demands are just some of the problems Indian brides have faced, not to mention quickie divorces, desertion and abduction of children. Every year expatriate bridegrooms come to India, from Canada, USA and other European countries, with the hope of seeking an Indian bride.

A district lawyer from Punjab dealing with at least 400 cases of abandoned women says that many of the NRI grooms come to India for the dowry. “Getting married in India is a means of getting a huge dowry,” says the lawyer. What usually happens, he states, is that these boys come home for a holiday, and under pressure from family to get married to a traditional Indian girl, tie the knot with a girl of their parent’s choice.”

“They get a huge dowry to do so — money that would help them abroad. The brides’ parents even splurge on an extravagant wedding to impress their NRI groom. Soon after the wedding, the groom leaves, promising to send the visa papers for his new wife. Then begins an endless wait for the bride who yearns to hear from her new husband. The letters go unanswered, and the phone calls stop suddenly. In some cases all the men want is a “Holiday Bride”, a woman to live with while holidaying in their native villages, and with whom they have no intention of ever settling down with.”

There is an alarming increase in the number of girls taken for a ride by fraudulent NRI grooms. Today, it is estimated that over 30,000 women have been abandoned by NRIs in India. Local aid organizations have tried to spread awareness of the potential dangers of entering into matrimony with prospective NRI grooms without proper verification.

A majority of these abandoned brides are uneducated and hail from poor backgrounds. The lure of a lavish lifestyle abroad tempts them to fall in the trap of an NRI groom. A majority of these women end up being tortured by their in-laws, and most have no financial support.

Non-Reliable Indian Grooms And The Law

There is a pressing need for a more stringent legal system as well as for better coordination between India and the United States to curb this social evil. Laws governing divorce are different in each country. Many states in the US for instance, have very relaxed divorce laws. One can easily get a divorce in less than a week, for just a pittance of $500. It is this loophole that the NRI grooms take advantage of, and swindle large sums of dowry from unsuspecting brides and their families.

At a recently held conference for women and child development (WCD), it was suggested that the existing rules be changed to ensure that Indian laws apply to NRI’s, no matter where they reside. The committee is also pushing for a mandatory certification of marriage on the wife’s passport. This would ensure that if an Indian citizen ill-treats his wife or violates the law, he could be summoned back to India.

Further, the Indian government plans to enter into agreements with foreign rulers whereby, a divorce handed out to an Indian woman by a non-resident husband overseas, would have to be validated by Indian courts. There is also a suggestion under which a potential groom would have to submit his social security number to the concerned authorities. This would aid in tracing him in case of desertion, abandonment or ex-parte divorce.

Several NGO’s in the USA, such as Manavi in New Jersey, Apna Ghar in Chicago and Raksha in Atlanta are doing a lot of good work in this field. Says a co-founder of one of the organizations “Obviously there is a need and all the organizations are totally swamped. Even then this is only the tip of the iceberg.”

Through these corrective reforms, we could hope to put an end to this evil practice of fraudulent NRI marriages.

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Mallika Sarabhai - Bharata Natyam

Naaree Interviews Mallika Sarabhai, Goddess Of Dance

By Swarnendu Biswas

Photos by Yadavan Chandran

She comes across as a physical manifestation of boundless feminine energy, exuding great inner strength, grace, kindness and compassion. You can call her a Goddess; an embodiment of the unlimited shakti of woman power.

She is also known as Mallika Sarabhai; one of the most creative minds of our times, on this planet. Her multifaceted genius is reflected in various fields, ranging from arts to creative and non-fiction writing, and from entrepreneurship to activism. She is globally renowned as an Indian classical dancer and choreographer, but it is not easy to slot the incomparable force of her creative cascade.

Besides being one of the greatest exponents of Kuchipudi and Bharatnatyam, Mallika is also a writer par excellence on women’s empowerment and other burning social issues, a visionary publisher of a publishing house focusing on illustrated books on India’s arts, culture and literature (Mapin Publishing), an accomplished actress of theatre, television and cinema, a tireless social activist with dreams of a better world thriving in her heart and swimming in her eyes, a politician with a difference, and a super-successful social entrepreneur.

In fact, her unimaginable aesthetic versatility, which can perhaps only be compared to the versatility of Tagore (incidentally, both were born on the same date, 9th May) and Satyajit Ray, in modern India, doesn’t allow her to excel in only one field of art.

“Just dancing, or just doing one thing at a time doesn’t work for me temperamentally,” asserts the great lady. She is compelled by her fountain of creativity to do multiple things at the same time, and it has become almost imperative that she manages to attain the zenith of excellence in whatever she does.

To top it all, at the end of the day, there is a sensitive, unassuming human being whose immense compassion always manages to reach the anguished lives of the common folk.

Mallika, the global citizen, hails from Ahmedabad, from the state of Gujarat. The state, which is famous for being the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi, is now also infamous for the 2002 carnage; perpetrated by the Hindu fundamentalist forces on the hapless Muslim population.

Mallika is continually anguished by the emergence and growth of monstrous fundamentalism from various quarters of Indian society, and the fervent struggle to restore the pluralistic legacy of India is the cornerstone of her arts and activism.

Her courage and conscience made her take up cudgels against the Narendra Modi’s Gujarat government during the height of Gujarat carnage, and also against the rampant maladministration perpetrated by the same regime.

The Art of Managing

It is interesting to note that Mallika is an alumni of IIM Ahmedabad —probably the most prestigious business school of India — and has a doctorate in Organisational Behaviour from Gujarat University.

She completed her MBA in 1974, when she was just 20 years old, and completed her Phd degree two years later. Normally getting a Phd degree would take three to four years of hard work by most ordinary intelligent individuals. And few of us have heard of anyone getting a Phd degree at only 22 years. One wonders while getting those degrees from renowned institutions whether she knew that she would soon become an institution herself.

However, her heavyweight degrees in the realm of management and organisational behaviour didn’t induce her to climb the pinnacle of corporate ladder, which she could have easily achieved. Instead, her immense passion for dancing and choreography led her to create new history in those fields.

But that doesn’t mean her enviable academic qualifications went waste. Instead of the corporate sector, which is driven primarily by profit motive, she chose to direct her academic expertise and management talents towards creatively managing the Darpana Academy of Performing Arts, a nationally renowned institute known for imparting training in dance, drama, music and puppetry, located in Ahmedabad.

“It was never my intent to sell soap or investments. The degrees helped in disciplining the mind, and facilitated me to look at various angles; to deal with multiple variables. Earning or selling was never part of my paradigm,” states Mallika.

Along with her illustrious mother, Mrinalini Sarabhai, the gifted classical dancer, choreographer and instructor, Mallika has been running the Darpana Academy of Performing Arts for the last three decades. Darpana uses Indian dance, puppetry, music, theatre and television to educate, empower, and raise awareness about the critical issues of today.

The institution serves as an aesthetic haven where artists from all countries, traditions, and walks of life come together to employ art for the betterment of humanity. Mallika is Darpana’s esteemed co-director and has been instrumental in leading the organisation in the direction of direct social change and activism through the arts.

From a small dance academy started over six decades ago in 1949, by Mrinalini Sarabhai and her late husband, the eminent scientist late Vikram Sarabhai (Mallika’s father), Darpana’s stupendous growth as an internationally renowned institution of performing arts speaks volumes of Mallika’s unparalleled aesthetic vision, as well as of her sound sense of management.

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