Noted actress Shabana Azmi in conversation with Barakha Dutt, Group Editor, NDTV at the New Indian Women seminar, Mumbai on Monday.
India has evolved since independence and so has the new Indian woman. Tracing, celebrating and to remove the roadblock to the evolution of this woman Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) organised a seminar on ‘The New Indian Woman’ on Monday. Actor Ms Shabana Azmi, Co- Chair, CII National Committee on Media & Entertainment, said, “The new Indian woman has arrived and she is here to stay. She has found a voice and is speaking out. She is asking for her place in the sun without fear and at all levels. This new Indian women deserves more strength and needs to be supported. When this is done, the new Indian man will emerge and together the two will transform society. They will change notions of power so that power does not remain about oppressing the powerless but of sharing power and partnerships. She further added, “The true measure of a country’s progress is not just its GDP, but its human development index where empowerment of women is an important constituent.”
Mr Amit Khanna, Chairman, CII National Committee on Media & Entertainment & Chairman, Reliance Entertainment expressed his regret that while much has changed since independence, much still needs to be done. “What saddens me is that after so many years of progressive thought and some affirmative action within the many India’s that coexist in our nation, there’s still a lot more to do. Out of the extremely poor in the world, 70% are women. 50% of all women and 60% in South Asia are illiterate. Hence to me, the greatest problem is gender bias which takes root at the beginning of gender identity formation. This bias is so deeply ingrained in our DNA that at superficial levels there might be symbolic changes, but a lot need to be done on ground.”
In a lively discussion between Shabana Azmi and Barkha Dutt both reiterated that their view of the world is informed first by their identity as women. After Shabana Azmi said that she was surrounded by feminist including her father, father-in-law and husband, and when asked if he was a feminist, Javed Akhtar said, “Society should be just and fair and people should get equal respect without regard for their caste, gender or religion. If that makes a feminist then I guess I am one.”
Shabana Azmi consistently said that the New Indian woman can’t emerge or exist without the New Indian Man and together they can make a modern, progressive society. Actor and director Nandita Das said that the change is really slow. “The cinema where I find less hierarchy and more democratic space as a woman is regional cinema. When I started doing regional cinema, at some level the journey was somehow different. The kind of stories and women characters they have, are far more layered and nuanced. There were more complex images of women,” she said. (SSNS)