In Book Review

She Walks, She Leads

Published By: Penguin Random House India
AuthorGunjan Jain
ISBN: 978-0670088850
Genre: Non-Fiction

NR Narayana Murthy is counted as one of the 12 greatest entrepreneurs of our time (Ref. Forbes); Mukesh Ambani, undeniably is the richest person in the country, but how many of us are aware of the achievements of Sudha Murty and  Nita Ambani? Sudha Murty is not only one of the most successful and accomplished authors but also the woman behind the genesis of Infosys. Nita Ambani is handling a number of portfolios successfully, but often gets discredited. Chanda Kochhar, Kiran Mazumdar, Anamika Khanna, Anu Aga, Priyanka Chopra, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Saina Nehwal are some of the stars who have set new standards in their respective fields, be it business growth, corporate governance, fashion designing, acting/entertainment and sports. Written by debutant author Gunjan Jain, 'She Walks, She Leads' offers brief glimpses of the lives of 24  extraordinary Indian/NRI women, set to inspire its readers. The book has covered almost all their aspects—relationship, leadership, philanthropy, parenthood, childhood, marriage, dark clouds and more; thanks to the author, reading them is like entering the persons' portion of lives and taking a part of it.

Starting with Nita Dalal, a Bharatnatyam dancer in her childhood, the author has successfully delineated the making of Nita Ambani, an educationist, philanthropist, environmentalist and sporting woman. Interestingly, her unknown love life, Mukesh’s proposal in the middle of a traffic jam on Bombay's Arterial Peddar road. Hardly does anyone know, Nita has planted over 3.4 million trees over the  2500 acres area; she  chairs DAIS, an international school that provides quality education to over 15000 children. To her credit, there is much more...

Included in their topsy-turvy memoirs are some titillating stories that will surely help you understand and decode their success. For e.g. during Sudha Murty's wedding, the bride and groom split the cost which was Rs. 800. An IISc Alumnus, Sudha went on to write to JRD Tata against Tata's policy 'to hire male engineers only'. Tata not only changed their policy but hired her for a Researcher profile.
It was Sudha's savings that became the capital of Infosys, then.

I am 5ft 4in tall. I come from a lower-middle-class family. I can never be rich. You are beautiful and intelligent. You can get anyone you want. But will you marry me?
- NR Murthy to Sudha 

To me, the most interesting and inspiring was reading Kiran Mazumdar Shaw who earned her master’s degree in Malting and Brewing from University of Melbourne, Australia. “But, back in India, the greatest challenge that Kiran faced in the brewing industry of the 70s was that no employer was ready to hire a woman for a job that involved running the brewery, handling labour unions and late nights at the plant. Kiran even approached Vittal Mallya, Vijay’s father-Chairman of UB. He told her, “It’s difficult to give you a job; this is a man’s work.”

“I had to take on the challenge.” Kiran was up against many barriers, as she started going about setting up the business in the garage of her rented house in Bangalore with a seed capital of Rs10,000; a 3000sqft shed nearby served a factory.

The book has many moments to trigger its readers, delving into the lives of Shabana Azmi, Mary Kom, Indu Jain, Shobhana Bhartia, Ritu Kumar, Anamika Khanna and many Sheros, as SRK calls them. Some are hilarious, some are comic. Yes, 'Aishwarya Rai' was one name that I missed.

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