Devi Awards Kolkata edition honours women entrepreneurs, activists and agents of change from different walks of life

Here’s what the Devis had to say after getting awarded for their commendable and life-changing initiatives

author_img Ujjainee Roy Published :  06th September 2019 02:42 PM   |   Published :   |  06th September 2019 02:42 PM


Madhu Neotia

“I FEEL IT’S a wonderful idea to honour women who are working in different aspects with innovative ideas because sometimes they get very well-hidden. It was wonderful to see that there are so many people who are doing such deserving work and they got the recognition today. I am overwhelmed by the award, more so because I got it from Smriti Irani, a woman I have always admired for her strength. And she inspires all those who are out there trying to establish their work. Smriti herself started from nothing and look at where she has come and I think she has balanced her life really beautifully. I think there’s a good takeaway here that a woman who’s working in a man’s world doesn’t need to lose her femininity and at the same time has the strength to follow her dreams all the way. When we started India Story people invited us from New York, England, Mumbai and Delhi but I felt it was important to give something to Kolkata that it could call its own property, like Jaipur has its literary festival. I feel Kolkata should be the centre of India Story because it’s the cultural capital of our country. Having said, we are working on exploring other cities in India as well.”


Sujata Chatterjee

“IT’S SUCH AN honour to be recognised for the work that we are doing, it encourages us to do much more. While we often use words like sustainable we don’t really carry it out towards the end, but Twirl as a brand, is focussed towards society and the environment and our products are made from upcycled fabrics and we will remain committed to our motto which is to reduce fabric waste, try to meet the clothing needs of the poor, as well as conserve and conserving natural resources.”

Alokananda Roy

“HONESTLY, I AM really humbled that Indulge, The Morning Standard thought of me as a Devi because I do my work very quietly so, when somebody acknowledges it, it’s a wonderful feeling. I didn’t go to the correctional homes to transform jail inmates. I know I have been through ups and downs in my life and dance has always helped me come out of it. When you are dancing or singing, you can never be sad in that moment and I just wanted to share the joy of music and dance rhythms with the jail inmates because I know they are not happy there — nobody can be happy inside a prison. I didn't even try it as therapy because I had no theory as such and what started as just a simple workshop became therapy and then a movement because nowhere in the world would prisoners go out of the prisons and perform all over the country and come back.”


Temsutula Imsong

“I ACTUALLY FEEL like - “Am I a deserving one?” That was my first thought. I am very thankful and am grateful to Indulge and The New Indian Express group. With this win, I feel the responsibility is now bigger. It feels like I have to prove that am deserving of this award. I have been working with my volunteers, and the best thing about them is their strength. It’s not easy to see quick changes. We have been littering our streets and public places for a long time. Sometimes, it pains to see that one day we clean and the very next moment it is dirtied by defecation or litter. The important thing is to be persistent—the goal is to keep the city clean, so we will keep cleaning until that goal is achieved.”

Parmita Sarma

“I AM VERY honoured, I wasn’t expecting this. Our journey is only three years old and it’s very encouraging for us because we know we are going in the right direction. We have a lot of kids who have come from really underprivileged backgrounds and they have anger issues, adjustment issues and a range of problems and we have seen these kids transform in a very short period in our school because we have our senior kids teach the younger kids everyday and we pay them a little. So, that increases their self worth and we have seen kids become really well-adjusted. It has been a rewarding journey to see that we are actually making a difference in these children’s lives.”


Pritha Chakraborty

“IT’SSO OVERWHELMING to get such a great award at the very beginning of my career. But it’s also very heavy because it’s a huge responsibility because if The New Indian Express which is such an amazing platform recognises what I do then I have to live up to the expectations, I feel more responsible as an artiste. Being raised in a middle-class family in a small town in Bengal and being a woman myself I have grown up around women whose stories I have told because being a woman I can understand their sentiments and voice them out much better than the male directors. One of my teachers in the film institute told me that always tell the story that is closest to your heart and disturbs you the most and women’s issues and their travails always disturbed me. And in future probably I would try to explore more in this area because there are so many other issues which need to be dealt with in films. The film I am planning next is also about women.”


Laldinsangi, Lalsangzeli and Lalrinpuii

“ITFEELS LIKE such a privilege to receive so much love. Receiving an award like this is an honour, it boosts us further to do a better job. We are really overwhelmed and we are very happy that our work which takes place in a small city in India is getting recognised in a major city like Kolkata. Our canvas targeted the local market but then it got bigger and one day we thought we can do more and we wanted to grow our business and we can even capture the mainland India through the textiles of Mizoram. So, we are planning to take steps towards that. One of our main sources right now is social media and people recognise us through it and through some online shopping sites. We receive orders from different parts of India and even abroad. We are also planning to open stores in different parts of the state.”

Ritu Agarwal

“IFEEL REALLY good, I feel honoured and recognised. It was a wonderful evening and the other winners are also very accomplished and it was such an honour to receive the award from Smriti Irani. I think all the awardees are connected to their roots and are changing India in their own way and helping the rural people. So, it’s always special to see women coming out and do good work. In the last couple of years, I have wanted to take my company pan India, unfortunately, I have very little time because I work also back home in Delhi and so there’s only so much time that I can divide between other projects. But in the coming years, we will definitely take it pan-India.”

Ekta Jaju

“I AM EXTREMELY humbled and excited to get this award and I think it’s a great opportunity for me and my organisation because I think the work we are doing was helping small farmers transition to a more sustainable model and that I would love to see the work scale-up and look at other innovative ways to solve the problems of the farmers. For this sector to get recognition from this platform, I am significantly grateful and I am sure this will create more opportunities and more and more people will know what we are doing. When we started ONganic, we were very clear that we wanted to increase the income of the farmers through organic farming to make it more profitable. We wanted to find export markets for our farmers and since last year we have had a really strong export focus and we want to keep that. We will start exporting to Europe and the US soon.”