Poem binds Hillary and Karnataka women's activist

The bond remained intact, although 14 long years have passed since Hillary, now the US Secretary of State, had first met Anasuya, who oversaw a UNICEF project in Karnataka till a few years back.

They met once again in the Delhi University on Monday. And again at the centre of attention was the poem that was penned by none else but Anasuya herself.  Anasuya – then an undergraduate student of Lady Sri Ram (LSR) College in Delhi – had written the poem in 1995 when Hillary had come on a visit to the capital of India as the US First Lady.

The poem –Silence – was all about the status of women around the world.

The LSR principal had handed over the poem to Hillary during a luncheon with the US First Lady and it had impressed the latter so much that she had quoted from it while speaking on women’s rights in the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, where its author had been present too.

That was not all. The poem struck a chord with Hillary. She cited it while delivering a lecture in a UN conference on women in Beijing and finally dedicated a chapter of her 2003 autobiography – Living History – to it.  The chapter – Silence is not spoken here – was about her visits to South Asia.

Hillary referred to the poem once again when she reached Delhi University’s Convocation Hall on Monday for an interaction with the students. Anasuya – now a women’s rights activist – was present on the occasion too. The US Secretary of State recalled her meeting with Anasuya in 1995 and recited the few lines from the poem – “Too many women in too many countries speak the same language, the language of silence”.

“Today she (Anasuya) is a women’s rights activist. She has not remained silenced,” said Hillary.

After graduating in economics from the LSR, Anasuya – daughter of an IAS officer of Karnataka cadre Abhijit Sengupta and eminent author and playwright Poile Sengupta – got M Phil on development studies from Oxford. She returned to Karnataka, where she worked on several projects with NGOs.

Till a couple of years back, she co-ordinated a UNICEF project aimed at sensitising Karnataka police personnel about the issues related with women and children.

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