Once an international hockey player, model, choral singer and highly successful banker till diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at 37, she never gave up and extends outreach to fellow sufferers, champions those with disabilities, participates in wheelchair marathons to raise funds for charities and creates awareness against female injustice.
She writes based on her own life experiences and typed her autobiography ‘Just me, Jacqueline, on My Way’ with one finger. This was published when she turned 60.
Only perhaps when I applied for an overseas posting with the Bank for which I worked and I think that was more out of protective concern of the authorities for me, being a single Indian woman going to work in an environment with which I was not familiar, and living on my own for the first time as well. In the interview when this was raised, I replied that if I did not have the confidence to tackle what might be in store for me, I would not have applied for the position. I was 34 then and had worked for 14 years with the bank. Thanks to one broad minded boss I understand I got the position in New York, and once well settled in that Branch, my local boss did express to me his initial apprehensions of how they were wondering if I’d fit in with the all male bastion, but was proud to truly declare me a plus to the team. Luckily, my father too was confident I could handle myself and was proud of my selection as the first woman officer selected to work abroad.
Tell us how you got to where you are today?
I’ve been blessed with a reasonable IQ that has not required me to struggle too much with any pursuit of mine, and I’ve been content to be an all round achiever, going along with the flow of life. However it is hard work, dedication and a strong commitment to people and the job on hand that has enabled me believe in my own self worth and create a belief of my reliability and credibility with those who repose their trust in me.
What advice do you have for other Indian girls and women?
Whatever your circumstances and difficulties, it is for you to overcome and find support from someone around you, if you are unable to fight for yourself. In today’s world, we are fortunate to have many helplines and self help groups, but it is for us individually to find the one within us that really wants to connect with the external one to change our situation for the better, instead of being content to continue as victims of self pity and keep looking for empathy. Sadly, I still find many women like this, even those who are economically stable, lacking the courage to move forward to change for a better life where they are doing what they want to do too, alongside an effort to introduce the concept of equality harmoniously by their man and his family! Education and elimination of dowry system will improve this situation, especially in rural India.
Do you think Indian girls are endangered? And if yes, why?
Sadly the lack of awareness, education and crass male domination in Indian society leading to disrespect for all women, is still a threat to Indian females.
What can we do to make India a safer place for girls?
The past one year has however seen a great change from middle class Indian women and men, at least in terms of public protests, taking to task all offenders and making the law and authorities move to punish offenders. The media too has given widespread support and coverage of issues relating to improving attitudes towards the female sex in India, exposing laxities on the part of authorities in enforcement of rules and regulations in regard to protection and enforcement of sex determination tests, abortions beyond permitted dates and related foeticide/infanticide crimes. TV coverage spreads to rural india as well and these programmes are beamed to the masses in the local languages to educate them and hopefully change the archaic attitudes and show them how wrong the practices have been in denying the girl child her equality in the family. ’Satymev Jayate’ the TV series produced and hosted in 2012, by Aamir Khan celebrated actor on social issues, also covered a couple of gender related themes and was a ‘sellout’ programme of huge impact in terms of awareness creation in the country.
Is there anything that you are doing to promote the value of girls and end gender discrimination and violence?
I am a promoter of the ’Petalsinthedust’ Campaign on Facebook and through e-mail and I have also organized the Global Walk for India’s Missing Girls for the past three years and publicized it through local press/TV media.
What are three things you love about India?
It is truly a ‘live and let live country’ and democracy prevails!
My living and cultural tastes are mostly Western influenced, but I’d never choose to live anywhere else because this is home for me. I love my city’s salubrious climate and the neighborliness and mutual acceptance we share irrespective of caste, creed or culture.
There is much outreach to be done here towards those in need to make one feel fulfilled.
What is your favorite quote?
To be a leader as well as a member of a team
To be competitive but not cut-throat
To be sporting and gracious both on and off the job
And to play the game of life for the sheer love of it!
The Global Walk for India’s Missing Girls was founded in 2010 on the occasion of International Women’s Day in San Francisco by the filmmakers of Petals In The Dust. Since then the Walk has taken place in over 26 cities in five countries including India, Australia, Kuwait, Canada and the USA. Many of the organizers of the Walks are very committed young Indian men and women. The goal of the Walk is to be a global platform to highlight the enormity of the murder and sexual violence that Indian girls face, create dialogue around these issues and to spur the Indian and International communities into getting involved into making India a safe place for the female gender.
Here are videos of the compelling speeches made by our wonderful guest speakers who are all involved in making a difference in our Indian community here in the US and in India.
The 4th annual Global Walk for India’s Missing Girls, City Hall, San Francisco
Anu Natarajan, Vice Mayor of Fremont
Sonya Pelia, President of Board of Maitri
Dayamudra Dennehy, Founder of Jai Bhim International
Partha Vasisht, SF Coordinator, Asha for Education
Photographs by Rashi Jindani
On October 26, a bright and sunny day in San Francisco,over 70 people walked in solidarity to put an end to the killing of girls in India. It was the fourth annual Global Walk for India’s Missing Girls, a Walkathon founded by Nyna Caputi, director and producer of the documentary film Petals in the Dust : The Endangered Girls which is currently in post-production. To date, this Walk has taken place in over five countries and twenty-six cities. There was great diversity in the group of walkers, people from all over the Bay Area with different backgrounds and professions, but everyone felt compelled to come together and show support for this tragedy.
Q: This is the fourth annual Walk for India’s Missing Girls. Why was it so important for you to start this walk?
Q: What do you hope the Walk will achieve?
Q: What is your motivation in bringing awareness about the issue of female infanticide?
Q: How does supporting the Walk support the film?
Q: For people who want to volunteer and get involved with the cause, what work is there to be done? How can people help?
For girls in India, this day has immense significance. Ranked as the fourth most dangerous country in the world for women by a TrustLaw poll conducted by the Thomson Reuters foundation in 2011, Indian girls are endangered at every stage of their lives.
Female foeticide, child marriage and high levels of trafficking and domestic servitude make the world’s largest democracy the fourth most dangerous place for women, the poll showed.
To highlight how unsafe India is for girls, how little is being done to protect them or convict the perpetrators of these crimes, we have launched the #IamEndangered campaign.
If you are an Indian girl or woman living in India or anywhere else in the world and feel strongly about this, do join thiscampaign.
1. Take a photo of yourself holding a handwritten or printed sign #IamEndangered
or take a photo of yourself and add the caption #IamEndangered
2. You can include a caption too #IamEndangered because…..
3. Upload your photo on this FB page, on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest or Tumblr using the #IamEndangered and #petalsinthedust in the comments.
4. If you don’t want to do a photo, write a caption #IamEndangered because …..
The caption can represent any form of violence and discrimination that an Indian girl faces.
If you don’t use social media, you can email us your photo or caption to firstname.lastname@example.org
The campaign will end on October 31.
“Be the change you wish to see in the world” – Mahatma Gandhi