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You Can Be A Soldier From Wherever You Are: Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, at WEF Meet
“I am aware how big a support wives and mothers are and I credit these two women in my life for all my success… It’s just that their (women’s) roles have not been publicly acknowledged yet,” said Union minister of state for information and broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore on Day 1 of the week-long Women Economic Forum 2017 in New Delhi on Monday
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“I am aware how big a support wives and mothers are and I credit these two women in my life for all my success… It’s just that their (women’s) roles have not been publicly acknowledged yet,” said Union minister of state for information and broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore on Day 1 of the week-long Women Economic Forum (WEF) 2017 in New Delhi on Monday (8 May).
At the conference, Rathore expressed his views on various topics, including how the world has changed for women today and how the role of a common man is much bigger than that of the government.
“Truly speaking, an average Indian has the courage, conscience and resources to do more than what the government can. In the three roles I have played in my life—as an army man, a sportsperson and now a politician—I have learnt that the average Indian is gaining a much significant role in the society. He/she is in a better position to touch more lives than one. The government is there to facilitate, rejuvenate, and boost the extent to which an ordinary citizen can contribute in any programme, be it Beti Padhao, Beti Bachao or Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan.”
A celebrated personality, Rathore retired as a Colonel after serving in the Indian army for decades and has won accolades for India at the Olympics in shooting. He won 25 international medals at various championships and has been honoured with the Padma Shri, Ati Vishisth Seva Medal, Arjuna Award and Khel Ratna Award for his exceptional services to the army and sports.
When asked if women could be respected in alternate roles as wives, daughters, friends, colleagues and sisters while they are worshipped in forms of divinity, femininity, and maa, in societies and daily walk of life, the ex-army man-turned politician said he was happy to see the change already taking place.
“I am involved with several activities which engage the youth. As I have close to 2,600 villages in my constituency, I keep conducting tournaments (in rural areas). Once, while organizing a kabbadi tournament, I did not specify the gender (for the game). My team informed me that many girls had registered and were asking if there was a dress code. I instructed them to allow the girls to wear whatever they are comfortable in. You will be surprised to know that 23 girl teams participated (along with 500 boy teams).”
Rathore went on to add that he would like to see more women contingents in parades, “taking part with more fervour. Not because that will mean the change is complete, but it would trigger us towards a shift in mindset, where the society as a whole will be more accepting towards women, whether they become fighter pilots or astronauts. It will mean the change has begun, not only at the grassroots level, but also at higher levels”.
The minister recalls the days during the 1996 Olympics when women and men participated in shooting together, because, he says, it wasn’t a test of physical strength, ‘the gun had to do it all’. The women beat men for the first time ever in the history of Olympics and then on, the Olympic committee said that women needed to do only 75 shots and men need to complete 125 shots.
State of affairs
Further into the conversation, the minister was asked to comment on the diminishing credibility in ministers and politicians, and statesmanship revival, and how it could take place.
“There are attributes and virtues that parents want their kids to imbibe, to take from public figures. When I am at the airport, people come up to me and introduce me to their kids as a sportsperson, as an Olympic medalist, as an army man, but not as a politician. It makes me proud that now I am in a role where I can share the fruits of my hard work and effort with the society at large. An Indian parent would love to let their kids imbibe the qualities of national pride, selfless service and representing one’s nation through sports… we should look at it this way. Even mediapersons have these challenges before them. If they want to be recognized as people behind big stories, they should sever all ties with sensationalism and the commercial aspect of media.”
In the end, Rathore put forward a word of caution that the world is changing, addressing issues has become much easier and that distributing information has become simpler through technology. “Advertisements, messages, posts, etc., can be delivered effectively without incurring much cost. You would never come to know if it was hyped, false, orchestrated or if it really was the truth. Hence, I would like to request each one of you who thinks about national interests, humanity and wants to be a fighter: never forward malicious content to people you may or may not know. It can save lives. You can actually be a soldier from wherever you are.”
An associate of ALL Ladies League, WEF is a global conference to foster empowering conversations and connections among women committed to adopt constructive change in all walks of life.