An Interface with Ms Margaret Alva

The department of Political Science St Aloysius College (Autonomous) organised the programme- An Interface on the Reminiscences of a Political Journey of Smt. Margaret Alva on 11th September 2019 at 3 pm at LCRI.

The programme employed the interview style of interaction conducted by Dr Rose Veera D Souza, the Head of the Dept of Political Science and the questions were based on the book “Commitment and Courage- The Autobiography of Margaret Alva”. The questions were directed to bring out the experiences of Smt Margaret Alva as a woman leader and her battles and struggles in politics. A Great Parliamentarian,  youngest to be elected to Rajya sabha in the year in 1974, and serving five times as MP- four times to Rajya Sabha and 5th time to Lok sabha, her saga  from of being a party worker to a Minister was explained by her, while answering the questions. A great debater in her young days with commendable leadership skills translated into political dynamism was to be a great inspiration to the young minds in this programme.  The audience also had the opportunity to raise their questions.

1.    Could you describe your childhood as a girl child because I remember reading in your autobiography on p. no -4 “My mother was disappointed at the birth of another daughter. – how did you face the patriarchal world?- I am sure Margaret Alva of the 40s and Margaret Alva of 2000 had a  huge journey traversed.-
Ans: Mothers those days had a son stroke. My mother was crying and my grandfather consoled her saying “one should not cry at the birth of a child she would going to be great in the future”. I had my early education in the then Mangalore , Coimbatore and the Mount Carmel Bangalore
2.    What are your experiences as a young college student? What shaped you in your formative years ? -Your leadership traits and debating Skills- As a student, Party worker, Parliamentarian, representative of the State abroad
Ans: I was picked by an English teacher and I am grateful to her for it, as I look back my journey. she picked me up saying - you are at good talking and so could be a debater
3.    You went on to become a parliamentarian. How do you describe yourself as the young woman in the Parliament– being the youngest in the Rajya Sabha. Your experiences from a back bencher to the treasury bench. –
Ans: I had no idea till Mrs Indira, the late PM of India picked me up to be a candidate for Rajya Sabha Elections. I had not applied for it either. It was a public speech that I made promoted me as Mrs. Indira was impressed by it and then later as a minister in the Rajiv Gandhi Government , it was indeed a huge stride
4.    What are your perceptions on patriarchy in the family and the hurdles for women
-    I remember reading in your autobiography that -you were a driver, a cook, a cleaner, teacher , MP and hostess rolled into one, with little time for yourself  p.39
Ans: That is true with every working woman who has to balance numerous roles and they do it willingly. It is tough when you have to manage so many responsibilities, probably easy with the help of a supportive husband.
5.    Your battle to change the situation of women in Indian airlines
Ans: the discriminatory practices that were quite the rule in Indian Airlines. For example women could not continue to serve after 35 whereas men could still till 55 years of age. We had to put up  a legal battle to change the situation.
6.    Stint in the UN as a Woman representative from India- have served in many women committees. In India too have contributed to women rights as a member of committees viz., the Dowry Prohibition Act (Amendment) Committee, the Marriage Laws (Amendment) Committee, Equal Remuneration Review Committee and the 84th  Constitution Amendment Bill Joint Select Committee for 33% reservation for women in local bodies. As a chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Empowerment of Women 1999-2004.   
7.     Stint in the Lok Sabha Elections 1999- introducing 33 per cent reservations in the Parliament: It is unfortunate that 33% reservation didn’t pass.  So during Rajiv Gandhi’s tenure it was taken to government at the grassroots – women  participation in local governments
8.    Role in the constituency- It is unfortunate that I am asked a question has to what I have done to my constituency- In fact 10,000 crores rupees I could get through World Bank and ADB for roads in my constituency and my battle to get Siddis -SC status. Often it doesn’t get published, it looks I may have to write another book to explain that.
9.    Your involvement as speaker for the training programme for Parliamentarians on mainstreaming gender Equality organised by UNDP in Nepal.- flight of women – young girls
10.    As a founder President of “Karuna”, a Non-Governmental Organisation working for women and children with presence in 6 states which specialises in empowering women at the grassroots politically and economically and as a patron of “Tamanna”, an organization for the rehabilitation of mentally challenged children. As a President of the Delhi Foundation of Deaf Women during 1975-82.
11.    Balancing the role as a mother, and as a political leader

Rev Fr Praveen Martis SJ Principal St Aloysius College in his Presidential address appealed to the students to emulate Smt Alva’s example. The faculty members of city colleges, faculty of the college and St Aloysius institutions, students of both UG and PG  Members from CASK and were present

The students asked the questions on the 33 per cent reservation in Panchayats, reasons for her to quit politics, and her message to girl students.

Smt Margaret Alva was felicitated with fruits , shawl and paintings of the Chapel of St Aloysius college. Dr Alwin D Sa, COE, welcomed the gathering, Dr Denis Fernandes, Director  Arts faculty read the citation, Dr Joyce  Sabina Lobo, faculty Dept of Political Science compeered the programme, Dr Lovina Lobo, Director , PG section rendered vote of thanks. Ms Rachel and team rendered Prayer,