Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Follow your heart but don't forget your brains

Prachi Rege

Speakers: Meera H Sanyal, Chairperson and Country Executive, Royal Bank of Scotland, India, President, Indian Liberal Group
Vandana Shiva, Scientist, Environmentalist and Organic Food Entrepreneur
Anuja Chauhan, Author and Former Vice President and Executive Creative Director, JWT
Rahat Taslim, Homemaker turned millionaire

Moderator: Prasoon Joshi, Lyricist and Executive chairman, McCann Worldgroup India and Chairman, McCann Erickson creative leadership council

Follow your heart but don't forget your brains is what the panelists agreed upon. Her father wanted her to be a doctor and Rahat Taslim wanted to fulfill his dream. But due to shaky economic conditions the dream couldn't be fulfilled. But perseverance to graduate and be an educated woman kept her going.

Married at the tender age of 18 she completed her education, earning an Honours in History after marriage and two children. Her life changed completely when she won the one crore rupees prize money on Kaun Banega Crorepati. "I was a bit nervous because I was sitting in front of Mr Amitabh Bachchan but my confidence rose because I knew the answers to the questions," she said.

For Meera Sanyal, it was the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai that made her follow her heart. She was shocked the way the state government had responded to the attacks and decided to be a part of the system instead of blaming it. This led her to contest the 2009 Lok Sabha election. "It begins somewhere for each person and for me that was the moment," she said.

Anuja Chauhan pointed out at the stereotypes with which women are viewed in society. "It is always the 'Santoor Woman' attitude that has been followed, about a superwoman who can achieve everything," she said. If a woman wants to sit at home and fulfill her dreams it's her choice she shouldn't be judged on that.

Scientist Vandana Shiva says seeing her dreams being fulfilled gives her the feeling of being one with the planet and society. "You feel a sort of energy when you achieve what you've wanted to," she says.

All women agree that it's fulfilling after having followed their heart defying all odds but Rahat says it's important to listen to only the good things that the heart says. Amidst all your ambitions there should always be a corner for humanity in the heart is what came out at the end of the session. Chauhan adds that it isn't just a momentary thing. The pursuit of the dreams should continue. "It could be those little things like exercising and praying. They're equally important parts of what your heart says," she concluded.

Women are fighting big battles: Aroon Purie

Prachi Rege

At the 3rd India Today Woman Summit, Aroon Purie, Editor-in-Chief of The India Today Group, in his inaugural speech welcomed the guests attending the summit. He said that it is a different energy every year to attend and organize the Summit. He also added that women are special - they are caring, warm and emotional in their approach to everything in life.

Speaking of a new decade which can be easily dedicated to woman empowerment, he pointed out the achievements of women in different fields. "Women are fighting battles both big and small stepping out of their houses and joining the workforce," he said.

Mr Purie touched upon the high points in women empowerment in previous year. "This is a year when women from small towns have made their mark in sports by winning medals at International sporting events," he said. He also referred to the large number of women being elected to the Assembly in Bihar. It is because of such achievement that this Summit is about 'Changing the Game'.

Mr Purie said that the society which acknowledges women's role at home is coming to terms to acknowledge their role in the workplace. Inspite of these advancements, there are still places where the society is still lacking in some ways. While the Supreme Court recognized live-in relationships as legal the women in such relationships are still considered keeps and cannot make financial claims if the relationships break. Honour killings, gender gap and reservation in the Lok Sabha are still the areas which need to be looked upon. He ended his welcome speech by saying that he believes that our society will solve these problems and further empower its women.