Washington: The Indian system is fair and best in the world when it comes to acknowledging the contribution of women, India's top diplomat to the US has said.
This is amply demonstrated in the very fact she being a women rose to be the highest position in Indian diplomacy, Indian Ambassador to the US Nirupama Rao told students of the University of Florida in her Commencement Address.
"In the years since when I came to be a diplomat, the impact that women have on public life in India has also grown from strength to strength. For example, I was privileged to head India's Foreign Service as the Foreign Secretary for two years from 2009 to 2011. It was a unique experience in every way," she said.
"It also demonstrated that our system is fair and just, and one of the best in the world when it comes to acknowledging the contribution of women in public service and to the life of the nation," Rao said.
Diplomacy, the field to which she belongs, Rao said was for long the exclusive preserve of men and this was very evident when she became a Foreign Service officer in 1973.
"The very thought that statecraft, the conduct of relations between sovereign countries, could involve women, was new, even up to a few decades ago," she said.
"Of course, the fact that we had a woman Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi at the time, was a revolutionary development not only for India, but for the world. It made our ascent as women much more acceptable to society, at large," Rao said.
She said that, years earlier, C B Muthamma, the first Indian woman to write the examinations for the civil service, and to join the Indian Foreign Service, struggled valiantly to improve the system and her efforts yielded extraordinary opportunities for those who succeeded her.
"Today, the Indian Foreign Service can proudly count in its numbers a host of women Ambassadors and High Commissioners, not to mention all its other women diplomats, who represent India abroad and contribute effectively to the making of our foreign policy," the Indian Ambassador said.
India, Rao said, is today going through a process of historic change, adding that aspirations are rising with millions being lifted out of poverty and the country's accelerated growth has made it well poised to be one of the leading economies of the world.
"We have consistently discharged our national and international duties with responsibility. Our democracy is strong, vibrant and resilient," the Indian diplomat added.