On the occasion of the 150th Birth Anniversary of Sri Aurobindo & Pondicherry Heritage Festival, AuroBharati, Sri Aurobindo Society in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India organized a Panel Discussion on Measuring Women’s Contribution to Culture- Key Factors for Achieving Sustainable Growth on 8th March, 2023 at Sri Aurobindo Society, Union Territory of Puducherry.
Dr. Kishor Kumar Tripathy welcomed the dignitaries, participants and audience and said that International Women’s Day, is a day when women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political. Highlighting women’s contribution to culture, he spoke on the vision of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother about the Divine Shakti and the four aspects of the Mother. During the Vedic times, we also find the names of female seers including Vishavaraa, Gosha, apala and Godha, who made a significant contribution in enriching the integral knowledge system. He further said that sustainable growth depends on the equitable distribution of resources and gender equality and women’s empowerment can play an important role in sustainable growth, social development and environmental stability.
Speaking on the occasion, Shri Pradeep Narang, Chairman, Sri Aurobindo Society, Puducherry said that in India, the role of women was diminished due to some reasons and as a result India suffered a lot and Indian culture also suffered. But in the contemporary scenario, things are changing, women are coming back in all dimensions of work. As far as the culture of India is concerned, we can’t do anything without Shakti. Even the Shastras say that without a wife we can’t perform rituals also. This is the importance of the feminine power that the divine has created. The Mother has very specifically told about the role of women. Sri Aurobindo has written about Indian culture in an intensive and extensive manner, as the Mother has written ‘Sri Aurobindo used to say: it is woman that can build a bridge between the old world and the supramental world."
Chief Guest, Dr. Amaresh Samantaraya, Professor in the Department of Economics, Pondicherry University said about the basic principles of economics as a tool for sustainable development by giving significant examples of developing countries. As far as economic welfare is concerned, there was a time when the special emphasis was given to women’s empowerment and gender equality. In ancient India, women were respected and their contribution is remarkable as well. He said that International Women’s Day is a day where we recognize the contribution of women in many sectors. He spoke about the role of women in shaping institutionalization economics by giving a specific focus on women’s empowerment which is only possible by giving equal opportunity to everyone.
Ms. Gayatri Panda, State Nodal Officer, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India highlighted the role of women in shaping the cultural economy and said about various initiatives undertaken by the Ministry of Tourism. She highlighted important aspects of ‘accelerating Equality & Empowerment: How Women's Leadership & Collective Action Can Make a Difference.’
The panel discussion was followed by presentations by Dr. R. Nalini, Prof.Department of Social Work, School of Social Sciences & International Studies, Pondicherry University; Mrs. Sithara Nair Gerdes, Founder- Secretary, Crafts Council of India; Ms. Ratirekha, Editor of the Awakening Magazine, Women Council, Sri Aurobindo Society; Dr. Sundar Murugan, Founder, Abay NGO; Ms. Shweta, Director, AuroYajna & Dr. Beloo Mehra, Senior Academic Mentor, AuroBharati, Sri Aurobindo Society.
Dr. R. Nalini, Prof. Department of Social Work, School of Social Sciences & International Studies, Pondicherry University spoke on ‘Substance Abuse: Its Impact on Women and Culture.’ She highlighted the basic issues faced by women and emphasized that social responsibility of all stakeholders, work on demand reduction, reduce vulnerabilities and awareness generation can be an important solution to this problem. Mrs.Sithara Nair Gerdes, Founder- Secretary, Crafts Council of Puducherry (CCP) spoke on Women, Culture & Entrepreneurship. She said that culturally inclusive development should promote gender equality and improve economic growth opportunities for women.
Ms. Rathirekh, a member of the Women Council of Sri Aurobindo Society, Puducherry said on women: Her Strength & Beauty. She emphasized that women must overcome their vulnerabilities and sentimental narrowness to show their true nature. Ms. Shwtea, Director at AuroYajna, Sri Aurobindo Society spoke on the topic ‘Time for Being Women or a Human: Contemplation on the Guardians of the Mother for the Future of Women.
Dr. Sundara Murugan, Founder of Abay NGO, Puducherry said about the role of women in shaping the culture of the family and the society as well. He gave many examples from the Sangam Literature containing the significant contribution made by the women in the areas of culture and heritage. Dr. Beloo Mehra, Senior Academic Mentor and Editor of Society's monthly online journal, Renaissance, AuroBharati spoke on ‘Women, Dharma and Socio-cultural Evolution.’ The panel discussion was followed by significant discussions on important issues.