Friday February 29, 2008
Don't underrate women in politics
By WANI MUTHIAH
WOMEN have a significant role in nation-building and their involvement in politics should not be underestimated, according to a visiting legendary Indian actress-turned-politician.
Vyjayanthimala Bali strongly believes that every nation should give more women the opportunity to become elected representatives.
The 72-year-old, who became a household name after starring in the 1964 cult movie Sangam, said this was because most global societal problems and issues revolved around women and children.
“Women also make very good politicians as they are able to grasp situations easily,” said Vyjayanthi-mala, a two-term elected representative in her country.
Vyjayanthimala, who contested in the South Madras parliamentary constituency in the 80s, was also elected to the Rajya Sabha, India's upper house of parliament, in 1991 after serving as an MP for 10 years.
She retired from politics in 1999 after serving in the Rajya Sabha for eight years.
Vyjayanthimala, who was on a private visit to Malaysia, said that women were also generally more receptive towards their constituents.
“I think women have the ability to get closer to the people, especially womenfolk and children, and I think that this is a very valuable advantage for an elected representative,” she said.
On her involvement with politics, Vyjayanthimala said she had very little understanding of politics when the Congress Party approached her to stand as a candidate for the South Madras constituency.
Vyjayanthimala said, however, that she was able to learn fast on how to serve the people as an elected representative with the support of her late husband.
“My late husband Dr Bali, being a medical man, also knew very little about politics but we managed. He was a great pillar of strength and was supporting me until his death in the mid-80s,” she said.
Vyjayanthimala said her debut into politics was made easy given that people already knew her as an artiste and film personality.
“People also knew me for my integrity, credibility and loyalty to the Congress Party,” she said.
Vyjayanthimala said that things also worked out well for her because her constituents believed what she said.
“I was very honest with them and told them that I didn’t know anything but would work for them and take up their grievances to the relevant channel,” she said.
According to Vyjayanthimala, she never made promises that she couldn’t keep and was honest and straightforward with her constituents.
Now that she is no longer involved in active politics, Vyjayanthimala said she spent most of her time researching on Indian classical dance.
She still performs and her next dance programme will be held in India in April.