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That Fierce Desire To Help

Warrier’s subjects are not only about the enterprise they created, but of the society, mind sets, personal struggles and unbelievable accomplishments, which make the book an inspiring read

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Women have always been givers, caretakers and custodians all over the world. The Barefoot college in Tilonia teaches only women from all over the world to become solar engineers. Their reason is that if you teach a man he will go to the city and get a job, while if you teach a woman, she tends to goes back to her village and makes life better for future generations. Women enter the world of entrepreneurship with the same consciousness, that of giving, helping and creating support.

Award winning journalist and Editorial Director of rediff.com, Shobha Warrier brings to us stories of a set of entrepreneurs where each enterprise is creating a social change or a social support system. These are inspiring stories where difficult circumstances have made women channelise their energy into such huge ventures that it leaves one awestruck. Warrier writes that ‘these stories all point to one thing that with dedication and hard work, anyone can achieve even the unachievable and gender has no role to play with it’.

However, there is a common thread to all these entrepreneurs – of social consciousness, whether it is preserving one’s heritage or giving employment to rural population through BPOs, the connect with society and the fierce desire to help others is what makes all these stories unique. Somewhere, the gender of womankind comes into play here.

Deborah Thyagrajan’s story of creating DakshinChitra challenges all expectations. An American woman coming to India as a bride in 1968, not accepted by her husband’s family for seven years, goes on to create a heritage museum (It was visited by 230,000 people in 2017).

The journey of 47-year-old Sabriye Tenberken to set up Kanthari, an International Institute of Social leadership is remarkable. A German woman with no vision takes on an adventure. Travelling to Tibet without a companion, setting up a school for blind children called Braille Without Borders, writing a book,  and finally setting up ‘Kanthari’ undoes all norms for a visually impaired person anywhere in the world.  

Shanthi Ranganathan’s journey from a conservative middle-class household to becoming the daughter-in-law of the illustrious TTK household is challenging enough. She goes on to set up the first de-addiction centre in Asia and has impacted 1,40,000 lives. Hers is also a story of how her mother-in-law supported her all through. It is these underlying messages that makes Warrier’s narratives impactful. Poonam Natrajan’s journey from her son’s diagnosis of cerebral palsy, setting up of ‘The spastics society Of India, Madras’ now known as Vidya Sagar and doing exemplary work for people with disabilities is one of courage and giving. She embodies the true spirit of the words ‘social entrepreneur’.

Kalki Subramaniam’s story (India’s first transgender entrepreneur)of grit and struggle to establish her identity; Nalini Shekar’s story of improving the lives of rag pickers in Pune to helping women survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking in the US and finally now creating ‘Hasiru Dala’; Sreeja Arangottukara, an organic farmer who found ‘Paatasala’; Radhika Menon’s Tulika Publishers are all inspiring stories of setting up successful business enterprises aimed at enriching the lives of many in society.  

Warrier presents the narratives as a first-person account. This makes a personal connect with the reader. These stories are not only about the enterprise they created but of the society, mind sets, personal struggles and unbelievable accomplishments, which make the book an inspiring read. The language is fluid and simple. As the title suggests all these women are based in south India but their spirit and struggles are those of women in any part of India.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


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Hema Tiwari Chaturvedi

The author is a freelance writer

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