Gender biases have no place in modern India where inclusive development is a key objective, President Pranab Mukherjee said on Wednesday.
He also lamented the rise in crimes against women and said it was inexcusable that they do not feel as secure and safe as they should in India.
His remarks came during a ceremony held at Rashtrapati Bhavan to present Nari Shakti (Women Power) Puraskar on the occasion of the International Women’s Day.
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The 31 awardees who were honoured included ISRO scientists, first-ever women troupe of Kathakali dancers, India’s first female graphic novelist, survivors of acid attack and trafficking, environment and animal activists, among others.
“The government is equally concerned at the rising rate of violent crimes against women. It is inexcusable that women in India do not feel as secure and safe as they should.
“Gender biases have no place in modern India where inclusive development is a key objective,” said President Mukherjee while addressing the gathering.
The three women scientists from ISRO, who were honoured, were Subha Varier, B Codananyaguy and Anatta Sonney. They have participated in ISRO’s historic space missions like the Chandrayaan mission, Mangalyaan mission and the most recent launch of 104 satellites in one go.
Subha Varier, who was in-charge of the video system for the launch of 104 satellites, explained her role in the most recent mission, “Video is the best way to show our achievement. Seeing is believing. In this mission we had satellites of six different countries and therefore it was even more necessary to have visual evidence.”
“We had eight cameras for video processing. Images were acquired in real time, compressed, transmitted on ground, de-compressed and converted into a video so all of us could watch it,” she said.
An all-women kathakali troupe was also awarded for claiming a dance form which was traditionally a male preserve.
Tripunithura Kathakali Kendram Ladies Troupe from Kerala was formed in 1975 and since then they have delivered over 1,500 performances in India and abroad.
Among the other winners were Amruta Patil, a writer and painter. She is also the first female graphic novelist of the country. Her novel ‘Adi Parva’, based on the Mahabharata, Puraans and tradition of oral storytellers, was selected as one of the year 2012’s best graphic novel.
Asia’s first woman to drive a diesel train, Mumtaz Kazi, was also bestowed with an award.
Anoyara Khatun, a survivor of trafficking, who has worked to rescue child labourers, victims of human trade and domestic violence, also received an award. Anoyara was also nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize in 2012 and has represented India at the UN.
The Nari Shakti Puraskar comprises Rs one lakh and a certificate.
Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi was also present at the event where she recounted the achievements of her ministry in the past three years.