On that note, here is a list of exceptional women who are better role models than any of our Bollywood ‘heroes’.

Be it scientific research or sports, over the past few years, Indian women have strived to make a mark around the world in various fields. And, their stellar achievemets have brought honour to our country. 

1. Faye D’Souza

Amidst all the noise and drama that passes for news on Indian media, Faye D’Souza has constantly been vocal about all the things that matter and that need to be talked about. Over the years, she has established herself as one of the most trusted journalists in India. In fact, she gave up a successful career as an anchor on Mirror Now and started her own channel because ethics were more important to her than materialism. Her social media updates on current affairs shine as a beacon of honest, exigent facts. In 2018, she was awarded the RedInk Award for ‘Journalist of the Year’.

2. Rana Ayyub

Rana Ayyub is yet another female journalist who is known for her no-filter critic and her fearless ground reporting. She is an award-winning investigative journalist who was recently also honoured for her “tenacious reporting on the rise of authoritarian Hindu nationalism.” In February 2020, she also won the McGill Medal for journalistic courage. And, in a world where journalism is dying, her relentless critique, large public following and to-the-point reporting makes her a voice that’s impossible to ignore.

3. Dhivya Suryadevara

In the automobile industry that’s largely male dominated, Dhivya Suryadevara is paving the way for women and encouraging them to join the automobile sector. She is the Chief Financial Officer of General Motors and a Harvard Graduate and she has risen to the top after gaining years of experience in several key roles throughout her career. She is certainly someone women and young girls look up to. She was also named in the Fortune Most Powerful Women as a Leader to Watch.

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4. Dipa Karmarkar

Dipa Karmakar was the first Indian female gymnast in history to win a bronze medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow when she was just 24-years-old. After that, she represented India in many other competitions and brought glory to our nation and has become an inspiration for young women who also aspire to join sports. Dipa is also a recipient of the Padma Shri. In 2016, she was also awarded with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award for her impeccable performance in Rio Olympics 2016.

5. Hima Das

Despite the lack of resources, Hima Das became the first-ever Indian athlete to win the gold medal at the IAAF World U20 Championships. By doing so, she became a role model for many female athletes and an inspiration for millions of Indians. Currently, she holds the national record in 400 metres with a timing of 50.79 sec that she clocked at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia. And, recently she was appointed as a Deputy Superintendent Of Police (DSP) in Assam Police under the state’s ‘Integrated Sport Policy’.

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6. Arunima Sinha

Arunima Sinha is a mountain climber and a former volleyball player. She is also the world’s first female amputee to scale Mount Everest, Mount Kilimanjaro (Tanzania), Mount Elbrus (Russia), Mount Kosciusko (Australia), Mount Aconcagua (South America), Carstensz Pyramid (Indonesia) and Mount Vinson. Despite losing her left leg due to a train mishap in 2011, she never gave up on her dream. Her aim was to climb each of the continents’ highest peaks and hoist the national flag of India and that’s exactly what she did. In 2015, she was honoured with the Padma Shri award for her achievements. 

7. Latika Nath

Dr Latika Nath is a wildlife conservationist and she is hailed as India’s Tiger Princess. And, her work in the forests of India has been a source of inspiration for several wildlife experts. From the very beginning of her career, she knew that the wildlife conservation and research fields were male dominated but, despite that she worked with true determination to overcome all the obstacles she faced. She has been working since the 90’s for the conservation of tigers in India. In May 2020, she was bestowed with the honorary title of “Her Daringness” by Mr Nitin Gupta (Former Ministerial Adviser, Australia). She is also the first Indian with a doctorate on tigers. 

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8. Bhakti Sharma

Many may not know this but, Bhakti Sharma is the first Asian and also the youngest to set a record in open swimming. She holds the record for swimming the longest distance of 2.28 kms in 41 minutes in the freezing waters of Antartica- something no one has ever done till date. And, she is an inspiration for all those who wish to embark on the road less travelled. Her passion for swimming never died down. Besides swimming in or across eight other seas and channels, she has swum in all the five oceans of the world. In 2010, she was also honoured with the Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award.

9. Dutee Chand

Dutee Chand is an Indian professional sprinter and the first Indian to win a gold medal in 100m race in a global competition. She is also the current national champion in the women’s 100 metres event. As a matter of fact, in 2019, she became the first Indian sprinter to win gold at the Universiade, clocking 11.32 seconds in the 100m race. Her story is inspiring and many young men and women aspire to be like her. Apart from that, she is also India’s first openly gay athlete. 

10. Mithali Raj

Mithali Raj is the captain of the women’s national cricket team, highest run-scorer in women’s international cricket and the only female cricketer to surpass the 6,000 run mark in Women’s One Day International matches. This makes her the perfect role model for all the youngsters around the world who want to make a mark in the field of sports. In June 2018, during the Women’s Twenty20 Asia Cup, she became the first player from India (either male or female) to score 2000 runs in T20Is. And, in 2019, she became the first woman to complete 20 years in international cricket. She is the recipient of several national and international awards, including the Wisden Leading Woman Cricketer in the World, Arjuna Award and the Padma Shri. 

11. Manya Singh

Manya Singh was declared the runner-up of Miss India 2020. She is the daughter of an auto-rickshaw driver and her story is an inspiration for anyone who is scared to dream big.  At 16, she worked as a dishwasher at a Pizza Hut store and at a call centre during the night to support her family. And, from not being able to pay her school fees and afford books to being neglected by fellow classmates for being an auto driver’s daughter, Manya overcame many obstacles in her life and never lost hope. 

12. Mahua Moitra

TMC MP Mahua Moitra is known for her fiery speeches during parliamentary sessions and her on-point interviews. She is one of the very few politicians in our country who always speaks her mind and fights for what’s right. She has always challenged the current government and questioned them fearlessly. She is an inspiration for all the youngsters out there who are afraid of speaking their mind and voicing their opinions. And, in a world where policticians are known to be corrupt she is a ray of hope. 

13. Disha Ravi

Disha Ravi is a climate activist and the founder of Fridays For Future India. She came into the limelight when she was arrested in February for an alleged involvement with an online ‘toolkit’ with regards to the farmers’ protest that has gained international attention. Her arrest sparked outrage on social media as people raised questions over the procedure of her arrest. She was allegedly just volunteering in the farmers protest and was expressing solidarity with the farmers. She was later granted bail. 

These women are no less than Bollywood ‘heroes.’ Respect!