Ode to women rule-breakers: Author Neha J Hiranandani explores stories of 50 such women

Hiranandani’s book, Girl Power: Indian Women Who Broke the Rules, was an attempt to introduce her daughter to more such women from India.

Published: 17th November 2019 10:07 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th November 2019 10:07 AM   |  A+A-

Neha J Hiranandani

Neha J Hiranandani

The book, titled Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, was admired by children and adults alike.

Last year when author Neha J Hiranandani’s eight-year-old daughter was reading the same book, the child found only a couple of rebel girls or inspiring women from India mentioned in the book.

“It was Mary Kom and Rani Laxmibai,” says the author adding, “My daughter asked me, ‘India has only two rebel girls?’”

Hiranandani’s book, Girl Power: Indian Women Who Broke the Rules, was hence an attempt to introduce her daughter to more such women from India. The author spoke with The Sunday Standard on her endeavour. Excerpts:

How did you think of this book? 

I started researching about a  number of ‘rebel women’ from India who revolutionised the society in their own way, for my daughter.

During this time, I came across many names who were not well-known as opposed to others.

Hence I decided to write this one. I also acknowledged that many of the stories were not told in an interesting way. Girl Power also includes illustrations. 

Tell us about the stories of women included in the book?

The book tells the story of Manju Devi, titled Coolest of Coolie, who took up the job of coolie at Jaipur Railway Station after her husband passed away who was also in the same vocation.

She faced huge opposition from her family but she overcame all. The story called Dreamer is about Suhasini Mistry who built a hospital in her village in West Bengal.

She also won Padma Shri in 2018. Then there is Noor Inayat Khan, popularly called Spy Princess, who  grew up in France as a member of a royal family. She became a spy for the Britishers in World War II. 

How did you discover these women?

It was primarily due to the conversations with people who are part of various communities. For an example, Rule Breaker is a story about a Dalit women Dakshayani Velayudhan who went through a difficult times to pursue education.

Somebody from the Dalit community asked me take up this story. Also, there are stories from Southern and Northeastern parts of India, included in the book. 

What is your message with this book?

I believe that woman should be heard, not at all in a combative way but accessible way. I wish readers will take it  from here and delve deeper into the lives of many such women.

It is important to know that Indian women are also scientist, wrestlers, spies and much more. 

Tell us about your background?

I have studied English Literature and Education Policy. I have also worked with UNICEF and Muktangan in Mumbai, the latter an NGO that further empowers local municipal schools. 

And your upcoming books?

I am planning a sequel to Girl Power. There is a another book on parenting in a digital age with Penguin Random House. 
 

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