Michelle Obama-The powerful lady

Spintharus  michelleobamaae, a "smiley-faced" spider, is named after the former U.S. First Lady. She became a role model for women and an advocate for healthy families, service members and their families. Michelle Obama’s journey began in the South Side of Chicago, where Fraser and Marian Robinson instilled in their daughter a heartfelt commitment to family, hard work, and education. Michelle earned a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and a juris doctor degree from Harvard Law School. In 1988, she returned to Chicago to join the firm of Sidley Austin. It was there that she met Barack Obama, a summer associate she was assigned to advise. They were married in 1992.

By that time Michelle had turned her energies to public service. She was assistant commissioner of planning and development in Chicago’s City Hall before becoming the founding executive director of the Chicago chapter of Public Allies, an AmeriCorps program that prepares young people for public service. In 1996, she joined the University of Chicago as associate dean of student services, where she developed the university’s first community service program. In 2002, she went to work for the University of Chicago Medical Center, where in 2005 she became the vice president of community and external affairs. Worldwide, she championed the education of girls and women. In a commencement address at the City College of New York she told graduates, “Never view your challenges as obstacles.”

Credit : THE WHITE HOUSE

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Why was Margaret Thatcher prominent in British history?

Margaret Hilda Thatcher was Britain’s first female prime minister and served three consecutive terms in office. She was born on October 13, 1925 in Grantham, England and trained to be a research chemist at Oxford. She later became a barrister and specialized in tax law.

In 1951 she married businessman Denis Thatcher. She became a Member of Parliament in 1959 and led the Conservatives to a decisive victory in 1979. She became the first woman prime minister of the UK that year!

She introduced many reforms, including the privatization of state-owned industries and enacted measures to curb trade unions in Britain. Her leadership during the Falklands War and the subsequent victory of the UK sealed a second term in office for Thatcher, earning her the sobriquet- ‘The Iron Lady’. Her government introduced huge reforms in all sectors and some of them were quite controversial. Thatcher’s extended tenure as PM was very significant in British history.

She battled memory loss in her later years due to a stroke and died on April 8, 2013, at the age of 87. In 2011, Meryl Streep portrayed Thatcher in the biopic ‘The Iron Lady’.

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Why is Indira Gandhi considered to be a strong leader?

Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi’s whole life was spent on the forefront of history. Her grandfather Motilal Nehru was a prominent politician of the Indian National Congress. Her father, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, was also a prominent leader in the freedom movement, as well as India’s first Prime Minister.

Indira was born on November 19, 1917 and lived her life watching India’s history unfold before her. When she was 5, she burned her ‘made in England’ doll in solidarity with the Swadeshi Movement in 1921. When she was 12 she led the ‘Vanar Sena’ - an army made up of children who helped in the freedom struggle by carrying secret messages, putting up notices, addressing envelopes and making flags.

She became the 3rd and only woman prime minister of India on January 24, 1966. She went on to mark her tenure by strong leadership and a global presence. She launched a war against Pakistan in 1971 to liberate Bangladesh and won. She implemented strong anti-poverty measures, ushered in the green revolution and clamped down a national emergency in June, 1975.

She lost power in the 1977 elections but won a landslide majority in 1980. Her fight against terrorism in Punjab led to her untimely death on October 31, 1984, when her own bodyguards shot and killed her.

At a speech at Bhubaneswar 2 days before she died, she said, “I spent the whole of my life in the service of my people...I shall continue to serve until my last breath and when I die, I can say that every drop of my blood will invigorate India and strengthen it. “She refused to be intimidated by circumstances and changed history and geography as we know it. She was India’s ‘Iron Lady’!

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Why is Mother Teresa’s life inspiring?

Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu or Mother Teresa as she is known was born on August 26, 1910 in Skopje, Macedonia into an Albanian family.

Little Agnes knew that she wanted to be a missionary at the age of 12. When she was 18, she joined the Order of the Sisters of Our Lady of Loreto, Ireland to learn English, which was the language used by the Order.

Named Teresa, after St Terese of Lisieux, she journeyed to Calcutta, in 1929, leaving her family behind forever.

She taught for 17 years as a nun but was deeply troubled by the poverty she saw around her. She experienced what she describes as a “call within a call” to leave the comfortable convent and tend to the poor on the streets. She obtained special permission from the Vatican to establish a new order of nuns called ‘The Missionaries of Charity’ in 1950.

The primary task of this Order was to love and care for the people that nobody cared for. She and her fellow missionaries gathered the poor and dying off the streets of Calcutta and cared for them. What started as a small seed community is now a congregation with more than 4,500 nuns and branches in 133 countries.

Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, but declined the ceremonial banquet asking that the $192,000 cost of the banquet be given to the poor. She was honoured with the Bharat Ratna in 1980.

She died on September 5, 1997, aged 87. She once said, “To be able to love the poor, we must be poor ourselves. So we possess nothing, we own nothing, we are the poorest of the poor”.

She had a different understanding of poverty as we know it. She once said that the poverty she found in India was easy to overcome with food and clothing, but the poverty she witnessed in the developed world was a poverty of spirituality and love, which according to her, was much more difficult to overcome.

She liked to repeat, “Do little things with great love”. She was declared a saint of the Catholic Church on October 19, 2003 by Pope John Paul II.

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Why is Rachel Carson known as the ‘early bird’ of environmentalism?

Long before melting icebergs and raging forest fires made the climate crisis impossible to ignore, a scientist in the USA had already started sounding the warning bells for the environment.

Marine biologist, author and conservationist Rachel Carson was born in 1907 to a farming family in Springdale, Pennsylvania. In 1962, she wrote a book called ‘The Silent Spring’ which documented the irreversible effects that chemical pesticides had on the environment. Carson accused the chemical industry of blatant disregard for environmental concerns and public officials for looking the other way.

She was one of the first scientists to draw attention to environmental causes. Her seminal work created public awareness, forced the US Government to reverse its national pesticide policy, resulted in a nationwide ban on DDT for agricultural use and led to the formation of the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Her book was a game changer. It challenged industrial capitalism and triggered the first wave of environmental activism. Silent Spring was named one of the 25 greatest science books of all time by Discover Magazine and Rachel Carson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom 16 years after her death, in 1980.

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