Member of Parliament, RSP
When we say idol, it’s a representation of someone who we want to perceive as God or we worship. It is upper limitation of reflection of our imagination. But I have a different opinion on this. For me, only one character cannot be a full package idol. When we talk about female idols, most of the mothers are my female idols. They have sacrificed their dream for their kids, have learned to be strong to give strength to their family and knows how to hide tears and throw smiles to keep everyone happy. We learn to struggle from them, we learn to survive and fight.
Successful politician Angela Markel from Germany is my idol of consistency, Michelle Obama is my idol for logical thinking, Indira Gandhi is my idol for politics and tennis player Steffi Graf is my idol for sports, button lady, Laxmi Sharma from Nepal is my idol for struggle. My mother is my idol for love and care and my second mother is my idol for spirituality and Mother Teresa is my idol for humanity.
But how people become idols for others is also important to learn. Probably most of us want to be an idol for someone; I wish to be. Be focused on your objective, make your schedule like a mission and invest in yourself. Treat yourself as an institution and try to create a legacy. All the female idols for me have done that, I believe.
SAMEER MANI DIXIT
Director of Research – CMDN, Chairperson – INPL
My mother is and always has been my female role model. She married into a very traditional family at an early age of 15 years (legal in those days) and carried out her duties under a strict mother-in-law, practically alone (my dad was studying medicine in India) and managed to raise three children, the oldest being me. I never saw her shed a single tear at home while growing up for having to do all the chores that she did, while she ensured that her children grew up in a lively positive environment. She even passed SLC (School Leaving Certificate) studying from home, which at the time would be considered a big achievement. She has faced many family hurdles in her life, but she takes each challenge head on and keeps moving forward.
I absolutely admire her sense of resilience and refusal to give up or give in on any occasion. Reba Devi Dixit is definitely my female role model.
Managing Director, Millenia Global
My female role model is Savitri Jindal, Chairperson Emerita of O.P. Jindal Group and a politician. She went on to create a business empire like no other and is today India’s richest woman and that too in a segment which has since forever been termed as a ‘man’s world’. She is one of the few Indian women having stepped out from being a housewife to enter the family business and transforming her group’s global presence in the steel space. Her group’s turnover increased four times after she took over as the chairperson.
After her husband’s sudden demise, Savitri Jindal at the age of 55 discovered a whole new world where she entered politics and then further became a billionaire at the age when people plan to retire from household and corporate duties. Even in the space of politics, she held portfolios ranging from minister of state for revenue, disaster management, rehabilitation and housing to minister for urban local bodies. Where others saw walls, she saw doors – with this success mantra Savitri Jindal is inspiring people in her own humble way.
I am very fortunate to have been touched in my professional and private lives by many women I consider inspirational and influential role models.
But my grand-aunt Tulaja Sharma stands out. Tulaja Sharma was the eldest among seven siblings – six sisters and one brother, the latter my maternal grand-father. Aged 17, she escaped an unhappy marriage and headed to Bombay (Mumbai), determined to force the colonial British out of India. There she joined Mahatma Gandhi in his Satyagraha (Quit India) movement. In 1931, she was jailed for her seditious activities. Upon release after 1936 she joined Gandhi again to volunteer at his Sevagram Ashram at Wardha, Maharashtra, today a historical landmark.
Post-independence and upon Gandhi’s advice, Tulaja Sharma returned to Kathmandu to join the Shree Chandra Kamdhenu Charkha Pracharak Mahaguthi led by fellow Gandhian social reformer, Tulsi Mehar Shrestha. By most accounts, the Mahaguthi is Nepal’s first non-governmental organization (NGO), authorized by none other than Rana Prime Minister Chandra Shumsher on the condition that it be named after him! To their credit, they convinced Chandra Shumsher that Charkha (spinning and weaving of the local khadi textile) was one way to promote national self- reliance. Today, most of us know the NGO simply as Mahaguthi, with flagship handicraft stores in Kathmandu Valley at Kupondole and Jhamsikhel.
When the Rana regime fell in Nepal in 1951 and as Nepal was taking its first baby steps towards democracy, Tulaja Sharma was appointed a member of King Tribhuvan’s 112-member Advisory Assembly in 1954. Reading back on the history of political intrigue and upheavals during that period, I doubt she would have particularly enjoyed her role. Mercifully, for her, the assembly was disbanded in 1955 when Tribhuvan passed away and Mahendra became king. Meanwhile, she partnered with the late Mangala Devi Singh to find the Nepal Women’s Organisation. Ever the social advocate, she eventually parted ways there, too, when the organisation she once led became an undistinguishable political arm of the Nepali Congress party.
Later in life Tulaja Sharma devoted her life to public education. One of her lasting legacies is the Mahendra Adarsha Vidyalaya school in Lalitpur which she single-handedly built up and expanded as a labour of love over the rest of her life.
I still recall the grace, humility and comportment Tulaja Sharma always exuded. My one regret is that I was too young and naïve in the ways of the world to have meaningfully interacted with my grand-aunt. What I know about her today is mostly from living accounts from people who were close to her. Yet I burst with pride when people half my age so vividly recall her and the efforts she put into mentoring them.