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Woman power

Kolkata was the first to hold a pride event in 1999, calling it a 'Friendship Walk'.

Slender and leggy, Putlibai was a stunningly attractive dancing girl. Kidnapped by the handsome bandit Sultan during an assignment in Dholpur, she became his mistress. When Putlibai returned home carrying Sultan's baby, policemen allegedly raped her. She returned to the ravines, became a sharp shooter and rose to No. 2 position in the gang. Even though she lost an arm, she could shoot accurately. When Sultan was killed in 1955, the dasyu sundari (beautiful dacoit) teamed up with brigand Kalla. The Kalla-Putli gang terrorised the ravines. Putlibai was shot by the police in 1958.

Among the first women doctors in India, Dr Muthulakshmi Reddy was the first woman to enter a legislative body. Nominated to the Madras legislative council in 1927, she fiercely fought for abolition of the devadasi system. She also campaigned to raise the minimum age of marriage for girls and demanded voting rights for women.

In 1951, Prem Mathur became the first woman commercial pilot. Her application was turned down by eight airlines. In her ninth interview, she told P M Reddy, MD, Deccan Airways: "You will not regret hiring me. " The job was hers. The first woman to hold a pilot's licence was Urmila Parikh, who earned her wings in 1932. JRD's sister, Sylla Petit, was the first woman pilot, but she flew for recreation.

M Fathima Beevi was appointed as the first woman judge of the Supreme Court of India in 1989. After retirement, she served as the governor of Tamil Nadu from 1997 to 2001. Anna Chandy, also from Kerala, was the first-ever woman judicial officer, serving as munsif - a district judge - in Travancore state in 1937.

Kolkata was the first to hold a pride event in 1999, calling it a 'Friendship Walk'. Integration Society, an NGO, got members of the hijra, homosexual and transsexual communities to march in yellow T-shirts on the streets of Kolkata, distributing flowers and brochures. The walk eventually grew into the Rainbow Festival. In 2008, Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai joined in to have Gay Pride marches to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York when the gay community fought for equal rights.

Kiran Bedi became the first woman IPS officer in 1972. She transformed Tihar jail, improving prison conditions during her tenure in 1993-95.

Kalpana Chawla was born in Karnal and then migrated to the US in the 1980s. The aeronautical engineer joined NASA in 1995 and became the first Indian woman to go into space in 1997. She was selected in 2000 to be part of the sevenmember crew of the space shuttle Columbia to conduct micro-gravity experiments. The shuttle disintegrated during re-entry into the earth's atmosphere in February 2003, and she died along with the rest of the crew.

Five years after hijras were granted voting rights in 1994, Shabnam Mausi was elected to the Madhya Pradesh State Legislative Assembly as an independent candidate.

JJayalalithaa won the election to the Tamil Nadu legislative assembly for the first time in 1989 and became the first woman leader of opposition. She was groomed and mentored by M G Ramachandran in her film and political careers. Jayalalithaa's massive fan base and charisma led to the former film star becoming the first (and only) woman chief minister of Tamil Nadu in 1991.

On May 23, 1984, Bachendri Pal became the first Indian woman to summit Mt Everest. Bachendri, from the Garhwal Himalayas, defied her family and continued school after she turned 13. Eventually, her parents gave in and encouraged her to go on to college and even earn a PhD. But as the job offers were far from exciting, she joined the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering. She not only aced the course but was also deemed 'Everest material' and joined India's fourth expedition to the peak.

Reader's opinion (1)

Vrajesh KothariOct 14th, 2010 at 21:51 PM

good articles like it very much

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