Published in "Hayatsk Yerevanits" (View from Yerevan), Armenian language magazine, April 2000
The wife of the Ambassador of India to Armenia, Mrs. Aradhana Anand, replies to the questions of our magazine.
Mrs. Anand, it has been only six months that you are in Armenia, and your first impressions about our country must be still fresh - Which feeling was the most dominant one? Were you psychologically prepared for coming here and what did you know about our country?
India and Armenia have indeed an ancient goodwill for each other. My husband and myself have certainly arrived in Armenia full of expectations to further strengthen the bonds of friendship and cooperation between our two countries. We had read and heard a lot about the historical relationship between India and Armenia and my husband had met the Armenian Ambassador in London, Mr. Armen Sarkyssian, former Prime Minister of the country.
How do you feel now when you mast have found answers to many questions, where have you already been, what has become a part of you?
Whom are you making friends with, with the wives of other Ambassadors or the local Armenian women?
The wives of Ambassadors were the first but I have also Armenian friends. My husband and I have been able to make a lot of friends during our few months stay in Armenia. We planned to organize more cultural and social activities and the process would certainly help us in knowing more of Armenian artists, journalists, writers, academicians etc. The International Woman Association has been active in bringing together the ladies from Armenia and the international community. As for myself, I would like to know Armenian women more closely, to understand their customs, national values, etc.
It is said that the women of different countries of the world understand each other much better than the men-folk. The subjects of the responsibilities of the family; the national traditions of food; costumes and other matters of daily life are very different. Armenia and India are ancient counties and they have traditional societies but their people are ready to welcome various positive aspects of modern life also. The most striking similarity between India and Armenia is the importance given to the family values. Both Indians and Armenians love their parents and children; they live in extended families with their grandfathers - grandmothers. You will appreciate that both in India which is such a vast country and in Armenia, tradition and modernity are coexistent. I would like to mention another important factor particular to both our countries, i.e. the rate of divorce, which is very low.
You may have had an opportunity to feel that Mrs. Indira Gandhi is very much loved also by Armenians. One can meet a lot of Armenian women who look very much like her, however as a personality she is inimitable. What about India? Are there any new names of women in the political lde of India?
Mrs. Indira Gandhi certainly became a powerful symbol of the political leadership as well as human qualities in the modern times. We are indeed touched by the loving memories, which Armenian people have of her visit here in June l976. I wish Armenian also elect women to high political positions. The women are in the forefront in all walks of life in India, thanks to the background of the freedom struggle in which women had actively participated. I am glad to mention that the girls are beating the boys in obtaining most of the top positions in higher education in India. We have women who have climbed the Everest; we have women fighter pilots, senior police officers and, of course legendary artists. The women have been provided special representations in the elected bodies at the village and the city level. The parliament is in the process of adopting a new bill which will make the one third seats of the parliament reserved for women. I may mention that the President of the International Parliamentary Union is an eminent Indian Mrs. Najma Heptullah, a lady born in a traditional Muslim family whom I had the occasion to meet during her visits to Saudi Arabia. We have also many women politicians including Sonia Gandhi.
The world has been recently exposed to the beautiful Indian girls. In 1994 and 1995, two Indian girls Sushmita Sen and Aishwarya Rai won Miss Universe/Miss World crowns. The Indian women are on the march although the path still remains long and difficult.
Mrs. Anand, to which extent are the women's rights protected? Is it relevant to treat the problems of women separately form the general problems?
The Constitution of India, adopted exactly 50 years ago in 1950, on 26th of January, three years after the Independence, conferred all the rights on the women of India. In practice, there are many problems and disadvantages a girl-child has to cope with in India. Generally, the women have more problems, since they work both at home and outside. However in the field of education, many achievements have been made. The southern state of Kerala is a shining example of the progress of the woman. The women are almost at par with men in every field in this state, which has achieved 100 percent literacy. All the political parties in India are committed to implement special policies to improve the conditions of women.
April 7 is officially celebrated in Armenia as the Women's Day. This day they praise the women, congratulate them and wish them good luck. We would like to congratulate you, wish you all the best there is in the world, woman's real happiness, new perspectives and pleasant surprises.
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