I firmly believe that the respect that its women enjoy tell us how developed a country is. Equally, I truly believe that in every man burns the courage to stand up against any injustice done to the other gender. He has demonstrated this over centuries, and we must salute and further this quality.
Today I have the opportunity to be a soldier for women, by telling you a story of the woman who taught me how important it is to embrace the values of a solider; to stand up for and stand by women. Let me tell you of my own mother. We lived as a joint family in Rameswaram, with my grandmother and mother managing this large contingent. When I was just 10, World War II put everything in short supply.
One day, at dinner, my mother went on giving me chapattis. When we rose, my elder brother chided me in private: “Kalam, do you realise you went on eating chapattis and Amma kept giving you even her share? It is a difficult time. Be a responsible son and do not make your mother starve”. I was seized by a shivering sensation which I could not control. I rushed to my mother and hugged her. My brother that day demonstrated in a very small way the values of a soldier; respecting and standing by our mother.
Mother lived till 93, a woman of love, kindness and, above all, a divine nature.
In my 80 years, I have interacted with many great women’s minds. Their professionalism, contribution to family and society has left a permanent imprint on me. And I am sure everyone has similar inspiring memories.
Our nation has a noble tradition of respecting women, and all good minds must unite to eliminate the inhumanities which blot our traditions. When we respect women we respect our nation. All men must stand by and stand up for all women. In this, they would be doing nothing more than nurturing their own inherent goodness ,be the best they can be – and act as a morale booster for others of our gender.