Wednesday, September 2, 2009

First woman to head the BBC

India-born Dr. Chitra Bharucha is set to become the first woman to head the BBC, albeit in an acting capacity, following the resignation of BBC chairperson Michael Grade.

Bharucha, vice-chairperson of the recently formed BBC Trust - which will take on the responsibility of running BBC come January - has been named acting chair of the Trust.

As of now, Anthony Salz, who is deputy chairperson of the BBC's board of governors, has taken over from Grade, who is joining the BBC's main terrestrial rival in Britain, ITV.

The BBC Trust is a new body that has been created to oversee the regulation and governance of BBC from January, when the board of governors, which currently oversees the autonomous broadcaster, is disbanded.

Along with an executive board, the Trust will take over the role of the current board of governors and will be independent of the BBC management.

When it assumes its responsibilities in January, Bharucha will become the acting chairperson of the BBC Corporation - till a full-time chairperson is appointed.

According to reports, current acting chairperson Salz is not joining the Trust, which will replace the board in January, and will be leaving his role in the BBC at the end of the year.

Though Britain's Department for Culture, Media and Sport will advertise the BBC Trust chairmanship as soon as possible, it is unlikely the process will be completed until well into the new year, according to a report in the Digital Spy website.

Applications for the post must be scrutinised by a government panel, which can take time.

Born in Madurai, India, Bharucha has lived in Britain since 1972.

A haematologist by profession, Bharucha has served as deputy director, Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion Service, and consultant clinical haematologist, Belfast City Hospital.

She currently also chairs the Fitness to Practise Adjudication Panels of Britain's General Medical Council, having served as a council member from 1999 to 2003.

Bharucha shifted from a career in medicine to media in 1996 when she joined the BBC Broadcasting Council for Northern Ireland, a position she stayed in till 2003.

She had also served as the Northern Ireland member of the Independent Television Commission from 2001 to 2003.

In 2004, Bharucha was appointed to the Advertising Standards Authority - Council, where she currently chairs the Advisory Committee on Animal Feedingstuffs for the Food Standards Agency.

Muthulakshmi: India's first woman doctor

Muthulakshmi was the first woman doctor in India. She had earlier been advised not to appear for the very difficult M.B and C.M. course but she had prevailed and shocked everyone by getting the 100 per cent result in surgery and most of the merit medals and prizes of that year. This was at a time when some professors did not even allow women to sit in their class. They would ask junior lecturers to take classes for girls separately.

She later became active in the social arena and was the prime mover behind the legislation that abolished the system of dedicating young girls to temples (devadasi) and played a role in raising the minimum marriage age for women.

She founded the Cancer Institute (WIA) in Madras and Avvai Home, the first institute in Madras to admit and educate poor and destitute girls with no caste bias.

First female Prime Minister in the world

Sirimavo Bandaranaike

Sirimavo Ratwatte Dias Bandaranaike (April 17, 1916 – October 10, 2000) was a Sri Lankan politician and the first female Prime Minister in the world. She served as Prime Minister of Ceylon and Sri Lanka three times, from 1960 to 1965, 1970 to 1977 and 1994 to 2000 and was long time leader of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party.

Bandaranaike was the widow of a previous Sri Lankan prime minister, Solomon Bandaranaike and the mother of Sri Lanka's third President, Chandrika Kumaratunga, as well as Anura Bandaranaike, former speaker and minister

Early life
She was born April 17, 1916 as Sirimavo Ratwatte to a prominent Radala family, who were descended from Ratwatte Dissawa, Dissawa of Matale a signatory on behalf of the Sinhalese to the Kandyan Convention of 1815. Born to Barnes Ratwatte Dissawe and Rosalind Mahawelatenne Kumarihamy of Mahawelatenne Walauwa,Balangoda. she is the eldest of four brothers and a sister.She was educated at St Bridget's Convent, Colombo, but was a practicing Buddhist. In 1940 she married Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike, a member of the State council and son of the powerful Sir Solomon Dias Bandaranike the Maha Mudaliyar (the chief native interpreter and advisor to the Governor).

Political background

Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike with Soviet Union Prime Minister Alexei Kosygin,Tissa Wijeyeratne and Anura BandaranaikeOn her husband Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike's assassination, Bandaranaike took over the leadership of his Sri Lanka Freedom Party kept it for forty years until her death, became a Senator and lead her party to an election victory in 1956. She became prime minister on July 21, 1960 as a member of the Senate and ruled her country on and off throughout the 1960s and 1970s until she was crushingly defeated in a general election in 1977. In 1980, she was expelled from parliament for abuse of power, and banned from public office for seven years.

A staunch socialist, Bandaranaike continued her husband's policies of nationalizing key sectors of the economy, such as banking and insurance, and also nationalizing all schools then owned by the Roman Catholic Church in 1961[3]. Unfortunately, she was on a roller-coaster ride from the moment she took office and within a year of her 1960 election victory she declared a state of emergency. This followed a civil disobedience campaign by part of the country's minority Tamil population who were outraged by her decision to drop English as an official language and her order to conduct all government business in Sinhala, the language of the majority Sinhalese. This they considered a highly discriminatory act and an attempt to deny Tamils access to all official posts and the law. This led to an increase in Tamil militancy which escalated under succeeding administrations.

Further problems arose with the state takeover of foreign businesses, particularly the petroleum companies, which upset the Americans and the British, who imposed an aid embargo on Sri Lanka. As a result, Bandaranaike moved her country closer to China and the Soviet Union and championed a policy of nonalignment. At home, she crushed an attempted military coup in 1962 by Catholic officers. In 1964, she entered into a historic coalition with the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP). At the end of that year, she was defeated on a confidence vote, losing the general election that followed. Six years later she bounced back, her United Front winning a substantial majority in the 1970 elections.

Her second term saw a new Constitution introduced, which ended the country's status as a Commonwealth realm. Ceylon was renamed Sri Lanka and declared a republic. But after just 16 months in power, a left-wing youth uprising almost toppled her government:1971 JVP Insurrection. Sri Lanka's small army was caught off guard due to the lack of early warning since the county's intelligence unit was disbanded by Mrs Bandaranaike fearing it being loyal to the UNP the year before. However the Sri Lanka Army quickly mobilized its reservist and held its ground although some remote areas of the country where occupied by the insurgents. She was saved by her skillful foreign policy when the country's non-aligned friends rushed to her help. In a rare move, both India and Pakistan sent troops to Colombo to aid Bandaranaike in crushing the insurgency by deploying them to guard airports and port, freeing up Sri Lankan service personal for offensives. In those tough political years, she turned herself into a formidable leader. "She was the only man in her cabinet", one of her officials commented during the height of the insurgency.

The 1973 oil crisis had a traumatic effect on the Sri Lankan economy; the government had no access to Western aid and her socialist policies stifled economic activity. Rationing had to be imposed. Bandaranaike became more and more intolerant of criticism and forced the shut-down of the Independent newspaper group, whose publications were her fiercest critics. Earlier she had nationalized the country's largest newspaper, Lake House, which has remained the government's official mouthpiece.

Style of functioning
Known to her fellow Sri Lankans as "Mrs. B," she could skillfully use popular emotion to boost her support, frequently bursting into tears as she pledged to continue her assassinated husband's policies. Her opponents and critics called her the "weeping widow".

By 1976, Bandaranaike was more respected abroad than at home. Her great triumph that year was to become chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement and host the largest heads of state conference the country had ever seen. Despite her high standing internationally, she was losing Sri Lankan support rapidly amid allegations of corruption and against the background of a rapidly declining economy . Nothing, it seemed, could save her. This led her government, which enjoyed a large majority of more than 75% in parliament, to use its majority gained in the previous election to postpone elections by two years, extending her administration's term to 8 years from the legal 6 years. This undemocratic action was the main reason her civic rights were suspended in the later years.[citation needed]

She suffered a crushing election defeat in 1977 and was stripped of her civic rights due to abuse of power. The 1980s were her dark days - she became a political outcast rejected by the people who had once worshipped her. Banadaranaike spent the next seventeen years in opposition warding off challenges to her leadership of the SLFP, even from her own children. Always the politician, she played her ambitious daughter, Chandrika, and son, Anura, against one another, holding on to control despite losing every subsequent general election. She finally met her match in Chandrika who outmanoeuvred her mother to become prime minister of Sri Lanka in 1994, when a SLFP-led coalition won power in the general elections, and president the following year.

Bandaranaike became prime minister again, but the constitution had changed since her last tenure; she, as the prime minister was subordinate to her daughter, the president. She remained in office just a few months before her death, but had little real power. She died on election day October 10, 2000, having cast her vote for the last time.

Female education

Female education
Female education is a catch-all term for a complex of issues and debates surrounding education (primary education, secondary education, tertiary education and health education in particular) for females. It includes areas of gender equality and access to education, and its connection to the alleviation of poverty. Also involved are the issues of single-sex education and religious education, in that the division of education along gender lines, and religious teachings on education, have been traditionally dominant, and are still highly relevant in contemporary discussion of female education as a global consideration.
While the feminist movement has certainly promoted the importance of the issues attached to female education, discussion is wide-ranging and by no means confined to narrow terms of reference: it includes for example AIDS.

Islamic history
Women in Islam played an important role in the foundations of many Islamic educational institutions, such as Fatima al-Fihri's founding of the University of Al Karaouine in 859. This continued through to the Ayyubid dynasty in the 12th and 13th centuries, when 160 mosques and madrasahs were established in Damascus, 26 of which were funded by women through the Waqf (charitable trust or trust law) system. Half of all the royal patrons for these institutions were also women.
According to the Sunni scholar Ibn Asakir in the 12th century, there were opportunities for female education in the medieval Islamic world, writing that women could study, earn ijazahs (academic degrees), and qualify as scholars and teachers. This was especially the case for learned and scholarly families, who wanted to ensure the highest possible education for both their sons and daughters.[3] Ibn Asakir had himself studied under 80 different female teachers in his time. Female education in the Islamic world was inspired by Muhammad's wives: Khadijah, a successful businesswoman, and Aisha, a renowned hadith scholar and military leader. According to a hadith attributed to Muhammad, he praised the women of Medina because of their desire for religious knowledge:
"How splendid were the women of the ansar; shame did not prevent them from becoming learned in the faith."
While it was not common for women to enroll as students in formal classes, it was common for women to attend informal lectures and study sessions at mosques, madrasahs and other public places. While there were no legal restrictions on female education, some men did not approve of this practice, such as Muhammad ibn al-Hajj (d. 1336) who was appalled at the behaviour of some women who informally audited lectures in his time:

Indian history
In 1878, the University of Calcutta became one of the first universities to admit female graduates to its academic degree programmes, before any of the British universities had later done the same. This point was raised during the Ilbert Bill controversy in 1883, when it was being considered whether Indian judges should be given the right to judge British offenders. The role of women featured prominently in the controversy, where English women who opposed the bill argued that Bengali women, who they stereotyped as "ignorant", are neglected by their men, and that Indian men should therefore not be given the right to judge cases involving English women. Bengali women who supported the bill responded by claiming that they were more educated than the English women opposed to the bill, and pointed out that more Indian women had degrees than British women did at the time.

In the developed world, women have surpassed men at many levels of education. For example, in the United States in 2005/2006, women earned 62% of Associate's degrees, 58% of Bachelor's degrees, 60% of Master's degrees, and 50% of Doctorates.

High prevalence of child marriage in India

High prevalence of child marriage in India
A large proportion of women in India were married when they were still children, a study has found, and researchers warned that such unions carried higher risks of unwanted pregnancies and female sterilization.
Nearly all the women who were married before they reached the legal age of 18 reported that they used no contraception before they had their first child, according to the study, which was published in The Lancet.
UNICEF defines child marriage as marriage before 18 years of age and such a practice has been increasingly viewed as a violation of human rights.
Marriage at a very young age carries grave health consequences for both the girl and her children and it is well documented that adolescent mothers are more likely to experience complications such as obstetric fistula.
Researchers analyzed data from a national family health survey that was conducted from 2005 to 2006 in India. The survey involved 22,807 Indian women who were aged between 20 and 24 at the time of the survey.
Of these, 22.6 percent were married before they were 16, 44.5 percent were married when they were between 16 and 17, and 2.6 percent were married before they turned 13.
"Women who were married as children remained significantly more likely to have had three or more childbirths, a repeat childbirth in less than 24 months, multiple unwanted pregnancies, pregnancy termination, and sterilization," wrote the researchers, led by Anita Raj at the Boston University School of Public Health.
India introduced laws against child marriage in 1929 and set the legal age for marriage at 12 years. The legal age for marriage was increased to 18 years in 1978.
While the practice of child marriage has decreased slowly, its prevalence remains unacceptably high, and rural, poor, less educated girls and those from central or eastern regions of the country were most vulnerable to the practice, the researchers wrote.
Such findings indicate that child marriage affects not only adolescents aged 16 to 17 years, but also large numbers of pubescent girls aged 14 to 15 years, and show that existing policies and economic development gains have failed to help rural and poor populations, the researchers wrote.
They attributed the high numbers of sterilization in young women married as children to them having their desired number of children at an earlier age.
But it was also indicative of inadequate fertility control, which was evident from the high numbers of unwanted pregnancies among these women.
They also warned that sterilization might reduce condom use in such couples, which would heighten the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
Child-marriage prevention programmes should be broadened to include interventions for women married as children and men who might pursue children for marriage, the researchers added.

Root Cause of Child Marriage

CHILD MARRIAGE was not ubiquitous in early India. The most prevalent kind of marriage was Swayamvara, where grooms gathered at the bride's residence and the bride had the privilege of choosing her life partner. There were numerous kinds of marriages, customary in antiquated India. Gandharva Vivaha (love marriage), Asura Viviha (marriage by seizure) and many more but among these, Bal-Vivaha was mostly not prominent.There are innumerable evidences, which lead us to the conclusion that this ritual took birth in the medieval ages. The Mughals who came from a different type of tradition primarily ruled India. Their attitude, thinking and way of life were very orthodox in nature with an obsessive obligation to their religion and a heartless approach in its proliferation. They were not only fanatical to all forms of religion other than their own; they also employed condescension for members belonging to other religions.
Women were mostly the sufferers during any war or plunder. During the period of the Delhi Sultans, the most awful victims were Hindu women. These were the insecure times when traditions like child-marriage came into the forefront. This age also witnessed customs like Sati.During these days, raising up young girls was considered as a relentless source of risk. Therefore, parents would always try to find grooms so as to get done with the responsibilities of their daughters by getting them married off before they reached maturity. The caste hierarchy had played a vital role in disseminating this system. Social group, which is based on origin and heredity, does not allow marriages between members of different social groups. But as young blood often gets swayed by passion and emotion, might violate this embargo. Hence, in order to keep this culture intact, child-marriage came into being.