Malala Yousafzai at a news conference celebrating International Day of the Girl in Washington
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Even as we’re bombarded with burgeoning statistics and heart-rending images of the temple stampede and the Phailin cyclone, let’s take a few minutes to celebrate these mavericks who decided to change their lives for the better. And can inspire us to change our attitudes:
Malala Yousafzai: She’s definitely not the girl next door. All of sweet sixteen — when the average urban Indian discovers the pleasures of a uniform-free life and co-education, among other things — this Pakistani girl who fought the Taliban’s bullets and was a contender for the recently-announced Nobel Peace prize, is busy making an impression on TV host Jon Stewart and US president Barack Obama himself. Despite the fact that she didn’t take it home, and irrespective of whether she’ll be the next Benazir Bhutto or not, we definitely need to take a leaf out of her book and fight for the right to basic education. Especially for the oft-sidelined girl child.
Arunachalam Muruganantham: What would you say about a man who decided to wear sanitary napkins because no woman would agree to be a “guinea pig” in his experiments to create inexpensive period protection? Nothing short of a revolutionary, considering that he lives in a society that takes gender demarcation and roles quite seriously. The Coimbatore-based entrepreneur who created a buzz about a year ago is back in the international news. More is definitely less, I’d say, when it comes to inspiring people with his Gandhian simple-living-high-thinking principle.
Mark Boyle: Talking about inspiration from Gandhi himself, here’s the story of an Irishman that could push us to associate Gandhi Jayanti (observed about two weeks ago, for those of you who’ve forgotten already) with other things than a public holiday and a dismal dry day. As for Boyle, he was part of the rat race as the manager of an organic food company, but the turning point in his life came in the form of the Mahatma’s words: “Be the change you want to see in the world”. He decided to live without money — making it, spending it, wasting it. Not all of us could, would or would want to follow suit. But the least we can do is preserve and recycle resources, and minimise and utitlise waste.
P Chandralekha: Who says you need to queue up for hours on end to get into reality TV talent shows and exaggerate personal “tragedies” to earn sympathy brownie points from judges and the public at large? For this Kerala housewife, a Youtube video of a Malayalam film song sung in a modest house with unplastered walls and a young child in her arms did it. Apparently, she’s been receiving offers (or at least, promises) to perform on a professional basis. A lesson for us to use the Internet to our advantage, like the 33-year-old or this 25-something Taiwanese woman who used the same site to quit her job in style.
Mallika Sherawat: The lady who made her Bollywood debut a decade ago with 17 smooches has done it again. This time, with a big kiss on the small screen. One more brave step from the Haryanvi bachelorette to get us to stop being such prudes and making a big deal of lip-locks.
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Image courtesy: Reuters
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