Author : Aura Staff

Each issue features success stories of women from a field or genre, ranging from entrepreneurship, academics, the world of art, etc. This issue features women from the academic sphere.

Flying High

Flying High (Achievers)
The onset of 2021 witnessed a very proud moment for India, as a team of four Indian women scripted history. India rejoiced and cherished the moment as Air India’s first-ever longest direct route flight with the all-women pilot team landed at Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru from San Francisco, flying over the North Pole and covering a distance of about 16,000 kilometres. This empowering moment will undoubtedly kindle aspirations in young Indian girls to envision and realize their dreams.

Dr Afifa Maryam Ansari

Dr Afifa 2
Dr Afifa Maryam Ansari is being celebrated as one of the youngest women neurosurgeons in India as possibly the first Muslim woman in the country to become one. After completing her studies from Malegaon, Maharashtra, and then Hyderabad, she has now joined Osmania Medical College for her MBBS course. She cites her mother (who is an Aalima) who brought her up in a single-parent household for her successes today. She wishes to serve her community with her work in the future.

Hajira Hafeez

Dr Afifa 2
HAJIRA HAFEEZ is an international award-winning Karate and Kung-Fu sportsperson, a PhD scholar, and a homemaker all rolled into one. Recently she won two gold medals and one silver medal, in Kung Fu and Karate at the Asian Tournament. She is also a mother of three children and practises her martial arts skills at a school in Mehdipatnam, Hyderabad. Although the sport is still mostly practised by men, it has seen a surge of popularity among women in recent times. Hafeez overcame many adversities and setbacks to both her academic and sporting careers and juggles her time between multiple commitments with great skill.

Jinan Ashraf (22)
As a research scholar in the School of English at Dublin City University, I work on examining connections and departures from James Joyce in the works of Post-Renaissance (1930s) Indian writers in English, with an emphasis on select female writers producing avant-garde novels in English in India in the early part of the 20th century. In addition to prompting interesting questions related to teaching, learning, and researching in English, researching on James Joyce for me is also accompanied by emancipatory aspirations as a young Muslim woman. My current work looks at bringing Irish and Indian modernisms in conversation with other intersectional categories of my identity as an Indian Muslim woman. To me, the words “forge” and “smithy” that occur at the end of Portrait seem to offer an interesting way to explain how one can begin to think of the question of colonial relationships as well as those of class, caste, gender and religion through the radical ideological pinnings underlying the works of James Joyce. These words seem to imply a certain rigidity of the “workpiece” that was at one’s disposal and had to be brought under necessary conditions after which the material was ready to be “forged”: the “rigidities” under question here are our calibrated notions of language, nationality, and religion and a need to awaken to the politics of reading that Joyce’s works inspire. Joyce also inspires one to look at craft as a source of emancipation (the “smithy” that is the craftsman’s “soul”) so that one could begin to make something “beautiful” of what were mere rigidities, incapable as yet of being forged, requiring the temperament of the artist and the hearth.

Maryam Siddiqui

Maryam Siddiqui (Achievers)
Maryam Siddiqui a B.Arch student of Jamia Millia Islamia has secured a place in an essay competition organized by Luton Lights for her essay “Why We Need More Female Leaders.” The essay competition had considered submissions from all over the world. (Her essay is reproduced in the magazine with her permission.)

Anuradha (28)
For Bahujan women researchers, mere presence in higher educational institutions like JNU marks their political statement. Everyday casual casteism, various forms of harassment to eventual dropouts is what Bahujans go through every day (or it marks their everyday experience). Despite several attempts at intimidating, shattering my confidence, gaslighting, to manipulating me into believing that I do not belong here, one thing that kept me going was the silent whispers of my anti-caste crusaders who braved it all, in the face of all odds. It leads me to believe that if I brave it all too, it will open up the doors to people of my community to survive as well. It makes me believe that I have nothing to lose and there’s no turning back. I come from the other backward community from Bundelkhand region and am currently an MPhil scholar at the Centre for the Study of Law and Governance in JNU. My research has been shaped largely from my association/engagement with the anti-caste discourse and the people of oppressed communities, both on and off-campus. My broader research interests include the public sphere, sociology of emotions, cultural politics, free speech jurisprudence etc. My work, “Hurt-Sentiments and Law in Independent India: Liberal Rights, Censorship and the Politics of Redressal”, explores the contours of freedom of speech and expressions and what it entails for different communities (both marginalised and dominant communities). The enquiry of ‘claims’ of hurt-sentiments, the way it is articulated and foregrounded to demand censorship by both, dominant and marginalised communities is the main thrust of my research. It becomes important, because in a society marked with inequalities, freedom of speech and expressions does not emerge as equal and thus, perpetuates inequality and compromises the right to equality and commitment to non-discrimination.

Ashwathy CM (27)

I am a first-generation learner from a tribal community named Kuruma of Wayanad district, Kerala. I joined Jawaharlal Nehru University for Masters in Political Science after cancelling my MA admission at the University of Calicut. Following the completion of my MA, I cleared the JNU MPhil entrance and secured admission at Centre for the Study of Law and Governance, where I completed the thesis titled “Adivasi Gothra Mahasabha: Framing and Formation of an Indigenous Social Movement in Kerala.” My primary interest of research is on the social, economic, political and educational conditions of Adivasi communities in the context of the well-known Kerala model of development. This model has not brought about improvements in the conditions of tribes in Kerala and the Adivasi communities lag behind in welfare indicators such as poverty eradication, education, malnutrition, child death in comparison with non-tribal communities.

When it comes to my experiences as an Adivasi woman, as far as I remember no one asked me (except during casual conversations) about my experiences till reaching as well as surviving JNU. There are experiences which make me think of the way society perceives my identity, even if it hushed up and not spoken of directly. There was an argument that happened with my teacher during my 12th standard. Out of humiliation, I asked the teacher and students “Are you doing this to me because I am a tribe!” Everyone in the class was shocked and speechless for an instant. For me, that was the moment of realisation of the social inequalities embedded within my identity.

After reaching JNU, the major problem I faced was the language issue since I have always studied in Malayalam medium schools. This being the condition of the majority of marginalised students belonging to Dalit or Adivasi backgrounds, it put us in a disadvantaged position, riddled with stigma.

1 Comment

  1. Hafizi

    An interesting combing of the achievers. All are of new generation and a hope for the coming years.
    Well done aura.


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