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VOTE: Most inspirational young woman of India

Last updated on: March 8, 2013 20:05 IST

VOTE: Most inspirational young woman of India

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On the occasion of International Women's Day, we ask you, dear reader, to vote for India's most inspirational young women. While this is by no means an exhaustive list, we present to you seven young women who in the recent past have either stirred the nation's collective conscience or given us a reason to cheer.

Delhi gang-rape victim

No woman in contemporary India has galvanised the young as much as the Delhi girl who was brutally gang-raped in a moving bus on the night of December 16, 2012. So violent was the rape that the girl succumbed to the injuries in a Singapore hospital on December 29, almost two weeks after the assault.

But in those intervening days the 23-year-old's courageous battle to live, in Delhi's Safdarjung Hospital and later at Singapore's Mount Elizabeth Hospital, led to an unprecedented outpouring of anger on Indian streets demanding the death penalty for the rapists and a reform in Indian laws to deal better with sexual offences against women.

India's youth who were often derided for launching reform movements only on social networking sites flooded the country's streets braving lathicharges and water cannons by the law enforcing machinery.

In life and in death the young girl stirred the conscience of a nation, including its lawmakers, to do something substantial to prevent sexual offence against women. In distant America, too, she will be honoured today for her brave and inspiring fight to live.

Move on to the next slide and register your vote on the last page of the slideshow.

This picture is only for representational purpose


Image: A demonstrator holds a placard during a protest in New Delhi December 24, 2012. Indian authorities throttled movement in the heart of the capital on Monday, shutting roads and railway stations in a bid to restore law and order after police fought pitched battles with protesters enraged by the gang rape of a young woman.
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters
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MC Mary Kom, India's first Olympic bronze medallist in boxing

When it comes to Olympics, Indians don't quite fancy their sportsmen to make a mark in the international arena. More so when it comes to Indian women in sports, given our general attitude towards them.

Indian pugilist Mary Kom, however, was determined to change how Indians look at sportswomen when she entered the boxing ring on August 11, 2012, to fight the battle of her life against Great Britain's Nicola Adams in a semi-final bout.

She lost the bout but won an Olympic bronze medal for the country.

The entire nation rose in unison to rejoice the Manipuri's historic feat, for she became only the third Indian woman to win an Olympic medal even as her male compatriots failed to deliver.

This 30-year-old, mother of two twin sons, from India's strife-torn northeastern state had sacrificed everything for her love of boxing.

As a kid, Mary, who was born to poor farmers on March 1, 1983, had to help support her family to make ends meet. Growing up, being the eldest of her siblings, she had to look after her three siblings -- two sisters and a brother -- while pursuing boxing simultaneously.

Mary Kom carved a name for herself when she won six gold medals in World Championships and from then this petite pugilist from the northeast has not let her country down. In fact, so inspiring has been her tale that Bollywood has been quick to announce a biopic on her life, with the feisty Priyanka Chopra playing her character.

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Image: Olympic Bronze medallist MC Mary Kom
Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com
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Saina Nehwal, India's first Olympic Bronze medallist in Badminton

Badminton ace Saina Nehwal is another jewel in India's Olympic crown.

Like Mary Kom she too showed the world that Indian sportswomen are a force to reckon with. She proved to her countrymen that being a girl cannot be a hurdle in achieving one's dreams.

On August 4, 2012, the 23-year-old Saina won the Olympic Bronze at Wembley Arena in London when her opponent China's Xi Wang conceded the match to her due to a knee injury.

However, this does not take anything away from fourth-seeded Saina's victory as she had given a tough time to China's Xi by saving four game points in a dramatic fight back.

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Image: India's Saina Nehwal holds up her bronze medal at the women's singles badminton victory ceremony at the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Wembley Arena August 4, 2012.
Photographs: Bazuki Muhammad/Reuters
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CA topper Prema Jayakumar

What does it take to achieve one's dreams?

"Hard work, hard work, hard work," said Prema Jayakumar, the daughter of an autorickshaw driver who topped the all-India CA exam this January.

All of 24, Prema scored 607 out of 800 marks in her chartered accountancy exam, considered one of the toughest competitive exams to crack.

Being born into a family with modest financial means only encouraged her to do better. Her father, an autorickshaw driver, would toil 12 hours everyday to earn Rs 15,000 every month in which he had to make provisions for household expenses as well as his children's education.

That is exactly what spurred on Prema when she began preparing for her CA exams. She too, like her father, studied almost 12 hours every day along with her brother, who also cracked the exam in his first attempt, inside a cramped room in a suburban Mumbai chawl.

Like many young Indian girls Prema finished her secondary education from a municipal school where she studied in her mother tongue.

Through shree grit Prema and hard work Prema has managed to inspire India's youth who share her passion for hard work and excellence.

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Image: CA topper Prema Jayakumar at her residence in Mumbai
Photographs: Prasanna D Zore/Rediff.com
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Irom Sharmila's historic protest against draconian powers to security forces

Manipur is a state with a history of strong women -- its women fought pitched battles against the British. So perhaps it is not surprising that yet another Manipuri lady should be on this list.

Irom Sharmila has been on a hunger strike for over 11 years now. Her demand is the repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, which gives security forces sweeping extra-judicial powers, from Manipur.

She has been charged with trying to commit suicide and is forcefed through a nose-tube, but the woman who has given up the best years of life for a non-violent protest -- in a state that has more militant organisations than working ATMs -- maintains she is only following Mahatma Gandhi's ideal of peaceful protest.

Her peaceful yet historic protest began in 2000 when ten unarmed civilians were allegedly shot dead in Manipur's Malom town by Assam Rifles. Then only 28, Irom, also referred to as the 'Iron Lady of Manipur' has continued her hunger strike for which she gets booked every year under Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code for 'attempt to commit suicide' and later released.

Even as we write this Irom is under trial at a Delhi court under the same charge. The next hearing of the case is on May 10.

Sharmila, who does yoga in her hospital room and is not allowed to meet anyone, maintains she is an ordinary woman. Her struggle and resolve are far from ordinary.

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Image: Irom Sharmila in her hospital ward prison
Photographs: Chitra Ahanthem
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Rukhsana Kausar who killed an LeT militant in J&K with an axe and AK47

On the night of September 27, 2009, Rukhsana Kausar, a resident of Jammu and kashmir's Rajouri district, then only 20 years old, took on Abu Osama, a dreaded Lashkar-e-Tayiba terrorist who along with a couple of other terrorists, wanted to take the girl along with them.

Even as her parents and siblings were being butted with rifles Rukhsana sprang up from her hiding place and attacked a Lashkar commander with an axe. Taking the terrorists completely by surprise, she immediately got hold of an AK 47 assault rifle belonging to a terrorist and shot dead Abu Osama.

Inspired by her derring-do, her family members, including her younger brother, too fought the terrorists and made them flee for good.

Incidentally, she was abducted by the same bunch of terrorists in July 2009.

As would befit such an act of courage Rukhsana was honoured with the National Bravery Award.

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Image: Inset: Rukhsana Kausar
Photographs: Fayaz Kabli/Reuters
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Mitali Madhumita, India's first female officer to receive the Sena Medal for gallantry

Without bothering too much about her personal safety Mitali Madhumita, then on a United Nations' mission in Kabul, thrust herself headlong to save precious lives buried under the debris when the Indian embassy in Kabul suffered a terror attack on February 26, 2011.

Had she wanted she could have easily looked the other way and allowed local security agencies take charge of the rescue operations. Her brave act helped save scores of lives of those grievously injured in the attack.

For her valiant act, Mitali was conferred with the Sena Medal, the very first awarded to a woman army officer who went beyond the call of duty and helped save lives.

Mitali's act of bravery has once and for all put a lid on the debate whether women should be given permanent commission in the Indian Army.

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Image: Mitali Madhumita, India's first female officer to receive the Sena Medal for gallantry

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Who do you think is India's most inspirational woman? Take the poll below and let us know!



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