An endeavour to tell the stories of eight path-breaking Indain women who joined the corporate world in an era when women were thought to be cut out for a more conventional role. They not just participated in the business world, but excelled in their respective pursuits. Today, they stand as role models for thousands of Indian women how are waiting to go mainstream, both in urban and rural India.
The Author, Prerna Kaul Mishra, was born in Kashmir and completed her early education at the Presentation Convent, Srinagar. She did her Post-Graduation in journalism from the Maharashtra University and started her career with The Times of India, Mumbai. During the past 14 year, she has done business reporting for The Indian Express and The Hindustan Technology sector. Presently, she is Deputy Editor with the online Edition of The Economic Times.
The world of women is a fascinating one. It has glamour, beauty, attraction and charm. But, this book is about what lies beyond the obvious. It tells the stories of eight women who were born into average middle class families and in an era when women were bound to follow convention vis-a-vis conviction. It's about their journey against the tide and towards pursuits that were primarily considered male bastions.
These eight ladies are the light bugs of the Indian corporate jungle who lit the way for thousands to tread the path. They defied convention and broke the traditional cocoon to redefine the concept of beauty for Indian women. They reinvented beauty to mean 'beauty is what beauty does'.
Each one of them has immaculately juggled relationships without letting any piece fall. Their dreams may be made of 'Excel sheets' and 'PowerPoints', and their mind maybe focussed on the next presentation. But their heart lies with the family and employees.
These are the hands typically expected to rock the cradle but today they rule the stocks.
The stories have different hues of these women being interesting companions, compassionate daughters and daughters-in-law, super moms, considerate employers and above all, gender ambassadors.
The author has interviewed the eight ladies to revisit their childhood, the parental influences, dinner table discussions, youth pangs and what lead to their taking the path less trodden, to arrive at these fascinating stories of grit and single-mindedness. Each story is different, yet has shades that most women will identify with.
Be it the story of Kiran Mazumdar Shaw who could not get into a medical college but went on to build a pharma empire and become India's richest woman or the tale of a reluctant Kalpana Morparia who was pushed into thinking big by her mother who was widowed early in life-they all have an ordinary beginning but pan out as extraordinary success stories.
The book unveils Naina Lal Kidwai's pride on being the first Indian woman at Harvard and Neelam Dhawan's entry into a leadership position in marketing technology that was considered a male bastion. It brings out the softer self of an 'unassuming and businesslike' Vinita Bali and the cultural and artistic pursuit of a science student, Swati Piramal. It traces Ritu Kurnar's journey that began from a nondescript business destination called Bharat to 'Brand India'. And, many would identify with the emotional turmoil of Vandana Luthra who has walked the tight rope of a typical Indian marriage and her global aspirations.
And in more ways than one, these stories stand as lighthouses for all those who are into the difficult job of parenting. Notably, all these exceptional success stories started with the parents believing in their daughters.
The book is written with the earnestness to help thousands of Indian women to believe in themselves. Success is not the caprice of fate. Those who have the fire in the belly can turn eventuality into opportunity. As the Hindi poet Dushyant Kumar puts it:
"Sirf hangama khada karna mera maksad nahi, meri koshish hai ki ye soorat badalni chahiye; mere seene mein nahi to tere seene mein sahi, ho kahin bhi aag, lekin aag jalni chahiye. "
This book is an endeavour to applaud the achievements of these exceptional women who have made Indian parents look at their daughters with pride and have the same aspirations and expectations from them as they have always had from their sons.
Finally, this book is also for millions of average but special Indian women who live their lives keeping home and hearth, bringing up children and keeping their flock together. It is an ode to their contribution to our social fabric-a salute to their selfless contributions that make us who we are today. Let us not allow them to fade unsung!
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