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A giant leap for women biz leaders!

   By Vijay Darda | 14-11-2022

Inclusion of three Indian women in Forbes’ Asia list is certainly a matter of great pride

Vijay Darda

Forbes, a prestigious American business magazine, has included three Indian women in the list of 20 Asia’s Power Businesswomen in its latest issue. It is a matter of pride for anyone to figure in any list of Forbes Magazine. Its publication started in 1917 and eight issues come out in a year. For three years (2019, 2020 and 2021), Forbes included India’s finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the list of 100 Most Influential Women in the world.

This year, the three Indian women who have been included in the Asia’s Power Businesswomen 2022 list of 20 women trailblazers are the chairperson of Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) Soma Mondal, the executive director (India business) of Emcure Pharmaceuticals Namita Thapar and the co-founder and chief innovation officer of Honasa Consumer Private Limited Ghazal Alagh. The important thing is that only those women have been given a place in this list who have succeeded in expanding their businesses overcoming the odd conditions due to Covid-19 pandemic. It is noteworthy that apart from being the first woman functional director of SAIL, Soma Mondal is also its first woman chairperson. Soma Mondal, Namita Thapar and Ghazal Alagh scripted new stories of success in very difficult times due to their foresight. It is certainly a matter of pride for all of us. Previously, Forbes India had included several women business leaders including Hemalatha Annamalai (Ampere Electric), Falguni Nair (Nykaa), Aditi Gupta (Menstrupedia), Kiran Mazumdar Shaw (Biocon India), Vani Kola (Kalaari Capital), Radhika Aggarwal (ShopClues), Shuchi Mukherjee (LimeRoad) and Roshni Nadar Malhotra in its list. There are many other names who have figured in the list of successful women too.

If we look at the pages of history, the daughters of India have scaled new peaks of success in every era. King Prithviraj Chauhan, famous for his bravery, talked about the respect and power of women in his time. We all know about the reign of Ahilyabai Holkar, Rani Lakshmibai or Razia Sultana. In the post-independence era, who can forget Indira Gandhi who fought a big battle and carved out a new country? Talking about today, our daughters are scripting stories of success in every field right from space, science and technology to the Olympics. They are proving their mettle by occupying top positions in the fortune companies of the world. The time will also come when the command of India’s Army, Air Force and Navy will also be in the hands of women. The CDS will be a woman too! By the year 2050, we would have become the third largest economic power in the world and the women would be playing the biggest role in all of this. Notably, the women will write success stories in keeping with their culture. Remember that changing the dress does not change the culture. For, culture is an intrinsic power.

Statistics show that more than 18 per cent of the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the country are run by women. More than 23 per cent of the workforce is working in these 18 per cent enterprises. Let me remind you that the contribution of MSMEs to the country’s GDP has exceeded 29 per cent. The data from the National Sample Survey shows that the total share of women in commercial establishments in different states across the country is still not more than 14 per cent. Interestingly, women from Northeast and South India are ahead. In other states, business establishments are less in the hands of women. It is necessary to change this scenario. When Dr Manmohan Singh was the finance minister and when the country was being moulded according to the market, policies were framed for women too. As Prime Minister, Narendra Modi also recognised women’s capabilities and policies have been designed accordingly. The Securities and Exchange Board of India, i.e. SEBI, has made it mandatory to have one woman director in every listed company. This has increased the number of women in businesses but it cannot be seen as their full participation. The question is, are all such women able to use their powers? I know many businesswomen who have used their authority and expanded the company but this is not the case everywhere.

I would like to mention here that in developed countries like America and Japan, no woman has reached the highest seat of leadership. But here in India, Pratibhatai Patil and Droupadi Murmu have occupied the post of President, and Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister for long. Even in Pakistan and Bangladesh, which were once part of India, women have climbed the pinnacle of leadership. I believe that women have immense power and a unique ability to lead. Rather, they are more competent than men; it’s just a matter of chance! Today, at many places across the country, girls are forced to leave school. Foeticide has reduced but the stigma has not disappeared. The basic problems faced by women will have to be done away with. Women who are engaged in innovations will have to be given a chance. The report on Women’s Entrepreneurship in India says that 15 crore to 17 crore new employment opportunities can be created if entrepreneurship among women is encouraged holistically. The biggest thing is that the whole society will have to shed its conservative thinking. Do it once and see how high our daughters fly!

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