Today, India is celebrating its 74th year of Independence, but even after seven decades are we independent, are the women in India free?
On Independence Day, popular television actress Donal Bisht in an exclusive conversation with International Business Times, India, shared her childhood picture where she is seen in her NCC uniform doing march- past.
Furthermore, Donal candidly opened up about her thoughts on being a modern independent woman, her views on gender equality, pay parity and India's acceptance to LGBT.
Excerpts from the conversation:
What is the significance of Independence Day?
Independence day is the day we Indians became independent from British Raj. But for me, being independent means to become independent in one's thoughts as well; in the sense to do what we think, and not what others think we should do. One shouldn't live their lives keeping in mind what other people would think, or say, but to follow their own heart and path. One should always be themselves, and inspire others with their ways. So, for me, that's the definition of true Independence.
How did you celebrate I-Day during your school days?
So when I was a school kid, we used to hoist a flag, and of course, that's basically part of all schools during Independence Day. So I remember this one function in particular where we marched to the song 'Kadam Kadam Badaaye Jaa' on the stage, and I was dressed i]n police uniform. It's a lovely memory. Independence Day was always a big celebration in school, and I used to participate in all functions. We'd all gather on the ground, and the principal would come and hoist the flag.
Do you feel women in India are free to speak and are living liberally?
To a certain extent, yes! Because it's a democratic country, and we have freedom of speech. So, technically, we do have independence in many ways compared to other countries. I really like how there are no restrictions as to which religion we can follow, or language we can speak; unlike other countries. Having seeing all this I can say, we are very much independent. I also feel like many people aren't aware of their rights, so I think they should be educated about the laws and rights that could benefit them.
What is that one thing as a woman you want to be independent of?
It would definitely be how women are perceived by men. I think 'staring' should be considered a crime, and also rapes that are taking place - the only punishment should be death. These things should be stopped right away. Then I think every woman will be truly independent and free. I think LGBT is fine. I think now people are now open to coming out about their sexuality. And of course they have equal right to live, just like any other normal citizen. We need to all be like one big family, and be stronger, and be a happier society.
Is the woman of India Independent in terms of gender equality or pay parity?
I think this pay gap is slowly narrowing down as women from all walks of life started to come out and work in different sectors of work, and proving themselves as equals or even better than men. So of course, if women are good enough, why not give them equal rights, pay and respect. On the brighter side, these stereotypes about women being not-so-efficient will slowly fade away in the near future, and women will be equal to men. So when a woman is equally working and shows that she's capable of being a successful entrepreneur, these stereotypes will fade away, and the wage gap will be gone. So right now, I do feel like wherever women are working, they are more efficient than men. (I'm not talking about strength-wise, but I'm talking about dedication). I have seen it for myself in many situations! Women can manage a house as well as her work- and I think that's amazing. I'm not sure how capable a man would be to do the same. But slowly but surely things are changing. I see a great future ahead for women in all work sectors.
International Business Times, India, wishes all our readers a very Happy Independence day!