Category Archives: My country


Being the harsh critique that I am of myself, I am quick to point out the mistakes and wrong choices that I have made in life – as I type this, I have to resist the temptation to list them, partly because that is not what this post is aimed at, but more because it would become a very large list.  I have never thought about the right choices I have made in life.  In fact, considering that my clan is not extinct yet, I must have made some good choices, no?

Some of the choices have been small – such as choosing to let go of my youth conviction of beauty-parlors-are-demeaning-to-women (I must have been one of the very few brides in India who was less made up than the guests at her wedding), in favour of availing of professional services to pamper myself  with a monthly pedicure, and an occasional facial.  There have been a few rare life-altering decisions that had been easy to make – such as marriage, but some other choices have been very difficult, and didn’t seem like the right choice at that time.  Time has, however, justified such choices.

The first difficult choice that I had to make was to quit my PhD.  I could not give a rational reason for why I wanted to quit – I was doing well in the program, I had passed the qualifiers, my research was going good and I was due to present my first seminar in a week.  As I was putting together material for my seminar, an overwhelming feeling of pointlessness swept over me.  It was foolish to quit at that point – I had a valid visa to stay in the US, my advisor was a soft-spoken and friendly man, but I just couldn’t continue with a research that seemed to have no relevance to the world or even myself.  It didn’t seem right.  Despite everyone pointing out that I was making a foolish decision, I yielded to my gut feeling,  defended my research for a Masters’ degree and got out of grad school.  The next few years were tremulous – the job market in the US was shaky and I went through some difficult times, to put it mildly.  But through all that, I never once believed that I had made a mistake in quitting my Ph.D.   The fact that I eventually got a job I love, in due course, is moot.

The next difficult choice was along the same lines.  Eight months into my marriage, living in the US and a with a blob of foetal cells in the uterine oven, we had to choose between raising the family in the US or India. Both sides had equal advantages and disadvantages.  After months of talking, arguing and fighting (and vomiting through the first trimester), we decided to return to India.  Interestingly, I was the one that resisted the move, but now, I am the one that won’t budge out of India (my better-half often wistfully stares towards the west even now) – this is home and coming back was the best decision of my life.

All though my pre-marital life, I was sure of two things – that I would be married.  And I would have many children.  Even as long as I was pregnant, I believed that this was going to be the first of many pregnancies to follow.  But by the time I was ready to start the oven again, I had made my choice (supported of course by my partner in crime) to stop with one. As cliched as this may sound, my decision was not made for me, my family, or my only child, but for my country.   With India bursting at its seams, it was just unfair to add to her burden.  I don’t regret this decision either.

A fourth decision was made more recently.  It is way too personal to put out in a public domain. It has been, by far, the toughest decision I have made yet.  Since it has been made fairly recently, it still feels raw and scary but as before, time would prove to me that I was right.

Have you made a decision in your life that seemed illogical at that time, but proved to be right later?






Indian women rulers


Mangamma, Queen of Madurai: 18th century


Lakshmi Bhai – Queen of Jhansi, Freedom fighter:  19th century

—India attained independence from British rule in 1947 and has since elected its rulers—-

The president is the namesake (De-jure) head of the country, and the governor is the de-jure head of the states.

The prime minister is the active head (De-facto) of the country and chief ministers are the de-facto heads of states.

President and governor are appointed.

Prime minister and chief ministers are elected by the people.


Sarojini Nadu: First Governor of an Indian state 1947

Sarojini Naidu was followed by 26 female governors in various states of India since then until now.  See the list here.

Of course, the governor is the ‘de-jure’ and not ‘de-facto’ head and are selected and not elected by the people.

We have had women de-facto heads (Chief ministers) to states and the country as well., who have been elected by the people.


Indira Gandhi: First woman Prime minister of India: 1966


Sucheta Kriplani.  First female chief minister to an Indian state. 1962.



Nandini Satpathy: Chief minister of an Indian state: 1972


Shashikala Kakodhkar: Chief minister of an Indian state: 1973


Syeda Anwara Taimur: Chief minister of an Indian state: 1980


J. Jayalalitha:  Chiefminister of an Indian state – THRICE.  Current.


Mayawati:  Chief minister of an Indian state – THRICE


Rajinder Kaul Bhattal:  Chief Minister of an Indian state: 1996





Rabri Devi: Chief minister of an Indian state. THRICE


Sushma Swaraj: Chief minister of an Indian state: 1998


Sheila Dixit: Chief minister of an Indian state: 1998


Uma Bharti:  Chief minister of an Indian state: 2003


Vasundhara Raje:  Chief minister of an Indian state: Twice. Current.


Anandiben Patel: Chief minister of an Indian state: Current.

Our first woman president was


Pratiba Patil:  First woman president of India – 2007


They’ve thought this through, haven’t they?

Dang.  Smart move.  Damn smart move.  And yet, so humane.  I know this sounds cliched, but man, I feel proud.


Till November 11, the following places and institutions will continue to accept Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes for payment:

–Government hospitals

–Railway, airline, government bus ticket booking counters

–Petrol, diesel and gas stations authorised by public sector oil companies

–Consumer co-operative stores authorised by state or central government.

–Milk booths authorised by state governments

–Crematoria and burial grounds