| GEO World|
| My services will be impartial: Lok Sabha speaker|
| Updated at: 0241 PST, Friday, June 05, 2009|
NEW DELHI: India’s first female parliament speaker on Wednesday said the independence achieved in 1947 had remained ‘meaningless’ for a majority of the Indian population.
Speaking shortly after being sworn-in, Meira Kumar, a Dalit leader, hit back at the ruling Congress, saying the independence had only been a political freedom, as it has provided nothing to the minorities and lower castes in India. She said the independence would be meaningful to the deprived only when “we raise their living standard, resolve poverty crisis, provide them food, clothing and housing, opportunities for all-round progress and free them from exploitation, injustice and torture”.
Service: In her address after her unopposed election as speaker, Meira said she would rise above politics and serve the nation. Answering female parliamentarians’ on what initiative she would take to empower women in politics, she said she hoped that all parties arrive at a consensus on this issue, since it has remained unsolved despite numerous attempts in the past.
Meira said the election of 58 this year was an indication of the progress Indian women had made over the years. The speaker said the election of the first female Indian president two years ago, followed by a female speaker, carried a strong message of women empowerment.